PM denies national security cabinet leak

Leaders make their final pitch ahead of polling day

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has denied that a senior minister in his own government leaked sensitive information days out from polling day.

Cabinet’s national security committee reportedly rejected a proposition from Foreign Minister Marise Payne to double Australia’s Pacific aid funding to counter rising ­Chinese influence as too expensive, according to a report in The Australian on Friday.

Mr Morrison rejected the notion that a member of his team had leaked cabinet deliberations to the media. But he would comment on the veracity of the report, saying he did not confirm or deny matters of national security.

“The members of my national security committee are very, very tight … I’m not going to confirm one way or another the matters in that report,” he said.

“I don’t discuss things … that are addressed and worked through a national security committee.”

Mr Morrison said people other than ministers also attended meetings of the sub-committee of cabinet. But, when it was suggested the leak might have come from officials, he declined to say if he would investigate the foreign affairs department.

“I’m not confirming that these are matters that have even been discussed,” he said.

Mr Morrison had attempted to spruik his government’s economic plan for people trying to buy into the housing market on Friday, before being peppered with questions on national security and poor polling on election eve.

Mr Morrison reaffirmed his believe that “quiet Australians” will again deliver a Liberal-National government.

Invoking praise of the voters he credited for his 2019 election win, he said people were wrong about the expected result in the lead-up last time.

“Everybody is so certain before polling day,” he told Melbourne’s 3AW radio.

“What I’m always certain of is the Australian people and their judgment, who quietly go about their business and listen carefully and consider it and weigh it up.”

Mr Morrison was spending all of the final full day of campaigning in Western Australia. The Coalition is seeking to hold the WA seats of Swan, Pearce and Hasluck, two of which have retiring MPs.

He said he had always treated the west with the respect it deserved, while the Labor Party took it for granted.

“I’ve always acknowledged that the Western Australian economy is so central to our national economic plan,” he told Perth radio station 6PR.

“Anthony Albanese is no [WA Premier] Mark McGowan. Mark and I actually agree on a lot when it comes to the Western Australian economy, the differences are with Anthony Albanese.”

Mr Morrison was confident the Coalition will win Cowan from Labor MP Anne Aly who was elected in 2016.


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