Prime Minister Scott Morrison and ABC‘s Leigh Sales finally went to head to head in a long-awaited showdown leading up to the election, resulting in a lacklustre interview.
When asked by Sales what he would do differently, Morrison talked over the top and interrupted the retiring journalist.
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“What would you have done differently for example, when it came to the way your Government used community sports grants as a slush fund to channel money to marginal seats?,” Sales asked.
“Well, I completely reject that, Leigh. Over the course of this campaign -,” Morrison replied.
Sales interjected: “Well that was the finding of the Australian National Audit Office.”
Morrison defended: “Now I’m sorry, I’m sorry. Every place I’ve gone where we’ve continued to provide support for local clubs, these clubs matter in these communities.”
“Yeah, but -”
Morrison continued: “I don’t think public servants. And I’m sorry, Leigh. I was just going to finish. I don’t think public servants sitting in Canberra have a better idea about what people need in their communities than their Members of Parliament -”
“Yeah, but Sport -“
“… who work in those communities every day,” Morrison finalised.
Viewers were divided over who is to blame for the disappointing grilling of Morrison, with some saying the Prime Ministers’ “bulldozing” behaviour is the cause while others accuse Sales of playing “softball” with him.
Leigh Sales let Morrison ramble at length about whatever questions he chose to hear
The most softball interview I’ve ever seen Sales give
The ABC has fallen a long, long way
— Media Analyst (@MediaAnalystOz) May 16, 2022
Leigh Sales topped off her career as head of @abc730 with the most pathetic interview possible, not holding a bullying, blustering @ScottMorrisonMP to account on a blatant rewriting of history on his part.
— Charles Harvey (@CJHarvey56) May 16, 2022
Leigh Sales being bulldozed by #ScottyTheBulldozer was surely on everybody’s bingo card. If Australia was to deliver high speed rail as fast as Morrison delivers high speed psycho babble we’d leave the Japanese Shinkansen floundering .
— Phillip Riley (@philmupp1) May 16, 2022
Just watched Morrison being interviewed by Leigh Sales on ABC’s 7.30.
He just literally bulldozed his way through.
Sales was totally powerless to stop him and get any decent responses.
Speaking of … changing from being a bulldozer ….
— Blue Long – D Lango (@BlueLong10) May 16, 2022
Scotty bulldozing all over Leigh Sales. Bolivating all over the place. Shouting her down. God, he is So Rude!!! What an awful man. #FireTheLiar
— Andrea I’m staying here to defend democracy (@andrea_weymouth) May 16, 2022
Sales went on to finish the interview by asking the Prime Minister what he would do if the Coalition loses the election, with Morrison dodging the question.
“Looking ahead to Sunday, if the Coalition has lost, can we take it as a given that you’ll be standing down as Leader?,” Sales asked.
Morrison replied: “Oh Leigh, I don’t speculate on things like that.”
“Oh, come on, it’s in a few days’ time. You must be thinking about it,” Sales responded.
“I – the only person who’s, the only person who’s announced their retirement is you Leigh and I wish you very well in your retirement,” Morrison said.
Sales continued to press the question on Morrison, asking if the Prime Minister would stand down in the chance of a hung parliament or Coalition loss, to which Morrison answered a resounding “no”.
Sales will retire from her longstanding position as ABC’s nightly 7:30 program host in late June 2022.
“I’ve asked my bosses at the ABC to allow me to step down from anchoring 7.30 later this year, once the federal election is over,” she said.
“I was appointed to the job on the 3rd of December 2010, so this my 12th year in the seat. That was five Prime Ministers ago! It was so long ago that Donald Trump was still just a guy with a bad orange hairdo hosting The Apprentice.
“I feel a strong sense of it being time to pass the baton to the next runner in the race and to take a break. The end of an election cycle feels like a good time to move onto something new at the ABC.
“I’ve always approached this job with one goal and that is to ask frank questions of people in power, without fear or favour, that a fair-minded, reasonable person with some common sense watching at home might like to ask if they were sitting in my position.
“The team at 7.30 is unparalleled in the media and I could not have more admiration or more gratitude for what they all do. It is an incredibly important program, there is no other show that does what 7.30 does night after night. I know the program is going to keep going from strength to strength, as it always has.”
Journalist Sarah Ferguson has been named as Leigh Sales’ replacement for ABC’s 7:30 nightly program.