‘Playing race card’: ScoMo ripped by Andrew Bolt
Sky News host Andrew Bolt has unleashed a stunning attack on Prime Minister Scott Morrison for playing the "race card" in defending under-fire Liberal MP Gladys Liu.
"The way that the Prime Minister played that race card five times this morning, well I can only say the Chinese regime should be sending him a thank you card," Bolt said in his opening monologue on Thursday.
"This slur against Labor and others was particularly disgusting."
The Hong Kong-born freshman, who won the Victorian seat of Chisholm in the May federal election, is facing growing calls to step aside amid questions about her ties to the Chinese Communist Party.
Ms Liu stumbled through a trainwreck interview with Bolt on Tuesday night, where she dodged questions and repeatedly refused to criticise China or its President Xi Jinping.
Subsequent revelations, including that Australia's spy agency warned former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull not to attend a function with Ms Liu and her supporters last year, have drawn fierce attacks from Labor and the crossbench.
As the fallout spread, the Coalition went on the offensive today - by accusing Ms Liu's critics of racism.
"They seek to smear an Australian of Chinese heritage," Mr Morrison said today.
The PM said there were 1.2 million Australians of Chinese heritage and "this has a very grubby undertone in terms of the smear that is being placed on Gladys Liu … and the broader smear that I think is implied in that over more than one million other Australians".
"Just because someone was born in China doesn't make them disloyal," he said.
Bolt said he couldn't "believe what the Prime Minister did today - from someone of the far left, yes, but this Liberal Prime Minister today actually played the race card".
"What a dishonest tactic," he said.
"It is dishonest because no one is criticising Gladys Liu just for being Chinese. No one. They are criticising her and asking her tough questions about whether she's been too close to the Communist regime of China. They're wondering why she served its propaganda arm. They're asking why she didn't tell the truth about that."
News.com.au political editor Malcolm Farr agreed Mr Morrison's bluster would not shield Ms Liu from legitimate questions.
"Gladys Liu has much to explain and no huffing and puffing about 'smears' by the government will remove that obligation," he wrote today.
On Sky News, Bolt asked the PM whether ASIO was also "racist" for warning Mr Turnbull off the meeting last year, or if Labor was racist for asking why Ms Liu "falsely denied on this show to having served on two Chinese organisations that are now part of China's official propaganda arm".
"Is it truly racist to ask why Liu is so reluctant to criticise China, given how close she's been to China's propaganda arm? What rubbish," he said.
"This is Scott Morrison using the race card to protect Liu from the questions and criticisms she would get even if she was as non-Chinese as say, Sam Dastyari, who was actually forced to resign as a Labor Senator for himself getting too close to the Chinese regime."
Bolt went on to say that the "final insult" from the PM was to suggest all 1.2 million Chinese Australians supported the Communist regime.
"If I say I hate the Nazis, that does not mean that I hate all Germans. In fact to say that I do hate all Germans is to say all Germans are Nazis - and that is an insult to them," he said.
"Likewise, if I say I hate the Communist Chinese regime, its oppression, its aggression, that does not mean I hate all Chinese people."
He said Mr Morrison's comments were an "insult to every Chinese Australian who does not support the Chinese dictatorship".
"What an insult that is to the democracy activists who fled here from the Tiananmen Square massacre," he said.
"What an insult to the ones who fled the persecution of the Falun Gong in China, or the Uyghur people. The ones who support the freedoms of Hong Kong. The ones whose relatives in China have been jailed for demanding democracy."
Bolt concluded, "Prime Minister, I reject your race card. And not just because you insult everyone who asks legitimate questions about your MP - it's because you're also insulting every Chinese Australian who believes in freedom, too."