‘Shut up’: Pollies in fiery hallway brawl
Labor frontbencher Tanya Plibersek has clashed with Liberal MP Craig Kelly accusing him of peddling quack COVID-19 cures in the halls of the press gallery.
The parliamentary showdown follows confirmation that the Prime Minister had privately called Mr Kelly before question time and urged him not to undermine the public medical advice.
But Ms Plibersek was having none of it after she ran into Mr Kelly after his latest television appearance outside Channel Nine.
Despite the conversation, Mr Kelly is on a media blitz this morning.
"So, your Prime Minister is wrong? Is he?," she asked.
Mr Kelly replied the Prime Minister is "100 per cent right"
"Oh, so he agrees with you?" Ms Plibersek replied.
Mr Kelly said he would let "the Prime Minister speak for himself."
Ms Plibersek continued to fire questions throughout the exchange.
"Does the Prime Minister agree with you," she asked.
"I don't know. You will have to ask him," Ms Kelly replied.
The Labor frontbencher slammed Mr Kelly as a "taxpayer-funded nong" who needs to shut up.
"The government is spending $24 million on a campaign telling people to get vaccinated, and we've got a taxpayer funded nong running around telling people not to," Ms Plibersek said.
She said her mum lived in Mr Kelly's electorate and she didn't want her exposed to people who refused to get vaccinated.
"I don't want them going to the shops, getting in contact with people who've refused to be vaccinated because their local MP is spreading conspiracy theories on the internet. He needs to shut up."
Sydney radio host Ray Hadley joined the condemnation of Mr Kelly on his 2GB radio show discussing the clash with Ms Plibersek.
"Look, as well intended as I think Craig may be from time to time I think he's got this one horribly wrong. And I just wished he would drop off,'' he said.
"Because of your mum, because of elderly people."
Ms Plibersek said people needed to get vaccinated to help protect others.
"I will do it,'' she said.
"Not just to keep myself safe but also to keep my mum safe,'' she said.
"My mother in law is in a nursing home. I am not going to visit a nursing home..if I've been offered the vaccine I am going to take it. It's about protecting not just yourself but the people around you."
The Prime Minister has privately indicated he is "not happy" with Mr Kelly's rising public profile and claims he's "not sure" if he will take the vaccine.
The Prime Minister will join news.com.au at 7:30pm tonight for a Facebook live on vaccination.
Mr Morrison has carpeted Mr Kelly for peddling quack cures for COVID-19 on his Facebook page.
News.com.au confirmed the PM called Mr Kelly shortly before question time on Tuesday and told him he was "not happy" that the issue had become a huge distraction.
The PM opened the discussion by telling Mr Kelly he would be asked questions about the issue in Parliament.
He told the MP that critics were saying he was an anti-vaxxer.
But Mr Kelly told the PM he had nothing to worry about.
"I reassured the PM that anyone saying that I'm anti-vaccine is grossly misrepresenting my comments," Mr Kelly told news.com.au
Government sources also confirmed the PM has told the NSW MP in no uncertain terms that his activities were not helpful.
It follows months of criticism that the PM needed to take a stronger line with the MP for questioning public health measures.
Mr Kelly announced this week he is preparing to appear on a podcast with former TV chef and anti-vaxxer Pete Evans, who releases a daily stream of material questioning the vaccination strategy and masks on his social media channels.
But Mr Kelly strenuously denies he is an anti-vaxxer, despite peddling a range of alternative treatments on his popular Facebook page, including using a treatment for hair lice in children for COVID-19. He has also compared mask wearing in children with child abuse.
"Any suggestion that I am some sort of anti-vaxxer is nothing but slander, smear and slime,'' Mr Kelly told news.com.au.
"If you can't debate, if people are getting black-banned and cancelled that is a very sad day for democracy.
"It's the opposition that are banging on about this. They are misrepresenting my position."
Mr Kelly said no one from the Morrison Government or the Prime Minister's office had asked him to cease and desist.
"Of course I am not a doctor. I am just saying here is some of the latest peer reviewed science. I am standing up for a core Liberal Party belief which is freedom of choice and small government."
In Parliament, Labor moved to debate the issue on Tuesday before being shut down by government MPs.
Labor's health spokesman Mark Butler stepped up the attacks yesterday as the Liberal shutdown debate in Parliament over the issue.
"Craig Kelly is a dangerous menace and a threat to the nation's COVID response and it's about time the Prime Minister developed a backbone to call him into line," Mr Butler said.
On Monday, the Prime Minister Scott Morrison sidestepped criticising Mr Kelly by observing "he's not my doctor and he's not yours". He added that the MP was doing a "great job" in his electorate of Hughes in Sydney.
Evans has labelled Mr Kelly "a beautiful and beyond courageous man" as he prepares to spend "90 minutes" chatting to him about alternative COVID cures.
"Just spent a great 90 minutes talking with this beautiful and courageous man," Mr Evans wrote on Instagram.
"Craig Kelly MP is sharing the truth over and over again and keeps moving forward without fear.
"You my friend are a hero to many Australians."
Originally published as 'Shut up': Pollies in fiery hallway brawl