Scott Morrison ‘understands’ criticism of minister who attended Ashes Test over Covid-19 meeting

Courtney GouldNCA NewsWire
The minister’s decision to attend the cricket has come under fire by Labor and the crossbench. Nikki Davis-Jones
Camera IconThe minister’s decision to attend the cricket has come under fire by Labor and the crossbench. Nikki Davis-Jones Credit: News Corp Australia

Scott Morrison has backed an embattled minister who ditched a crucial Covid-19 meeting to attend the cricket, but acknowledged his actions didn’t pass the pub test.

Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck came under fire this week after it was revealed he attended an Ashes Test in Hobart on the same day he declined to front a Senate Covid-19 inquiry.

Senator Colbeck has claimed he attended the match as part of his commitment as Sports Minister.

Speaking with Nine Radio on Friday, Mr Morrison said he would cop the criticism but was adamant his minister was doing a good job.

“Well, he has appeared, as you know, at that hearing on many, many occasions,” the Prime Minister said.

Hunt + Colbeck + Kelly Press conference
Camera IconScott Morrison has rejected criticism his aged care minister isn’t doing a good job. NCA NewsWire/Gary Ramage Credit: News Corp Australia

“I mean, ministers have many responsibilities. I can understand the criticism and ... I think Richard has taken that on board.

“Over the course of this pandemic ... there’s been a few knockers of him, but I know what he does each and every day for the welfare of people living in our residential aged care facilities.

“He will take that criticism on the chin and he’ll get back to work.”

His comments come after key crossbencher Jacqui Lambie questioned if the Prime Minister had any control over his frontbench.

“Oh, who knows (why this was allowed). Maybe because the Prime Minister hasn’t got many powers left, I don’t know,” Senator Lambie told Nine on Thursday.

Test pitch
Camera IconThe minister’s decision to attend the cricket has come under fire by Labor and the crossbench. Nikki Davis-Jones Credit: News Corp Australia

Mr Morrison wasn’t the only frontbencher to receive a grilling about the issue on Friday.

Government leader in the Senate Simon Birmingham was put through his paces on ABC News Breakfast when host Michael Rowland zeroed in on the issue.

“It wasn’t a good look, was it?” Mr Rowland asked.

“Well, Michael, I think it’s possible for many people to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time,” Senator Birmingham responded.

He added Senator Colbeck had devoted “huge amounts of time” to his aged care portfolio, even on the days he was at the Test match.

“This was a day/night test. I know that he, as I said, has reassured me, as he said publicly, that he was engaged in all of the different aged care meetings and leadership that he should be.”

Originally published as Scott Morrison ‘understands’ criticism of minister who attended Ashes Test over Covid-19 meeting

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