‘COME ON, MATE’: Fiery TV brawl erupts over host’s question
Greg Hunt has lashed out an ABC host after being cornered over a controversial vaccine announcement using a Liberal Party logo.
The government came under fire last week for attaching a Liberal Party logo to a release announcing Australia had secured another 10 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
ABC Breakfast host Michael Rowland on Wednesday pressed the Health Minister on why it was necessary to add a partisan insignia to a public spending announcement.
"It's an Australian government announcement. Who paid for the vaccines?" he asked.
Mr Hunt insisted the post was "entirely within the rules" before quickly launching a personal attack.
Here it is.— Michael Rowland (@mjrowland68) February 9, 2021
Judge for yourself.
No, Minister, I don't identify with the left. My job as an ABC journalist is to hold ALL sides of politics to account, as I was this morning.
It was, and is, a simple question.
You're welcome back on the show any time.@BreakfastNews#auspolhttps://t.co/Rkm9poIOiZ
"You seem to be the most exercised of any person in the Australian media about this," he said.
"I know this is an issue for you. In many ways, you identify with the left. You do this a lot."
A taken-aback Rowland said he found the comments "offensive", but the Health Minister pushed on.
"There's nobody who's watching you that doesn't identify you as the left," Mr Hunt replied.
"You should be open about that … It's important for you to be honest about your position and your origins."
The host insisted he had asked similar questions of Labor governments.
"I win the bet with my office that you would spend 50 per cent of this interview on that topic rather than on safety, rather than on vaccines, rather than on the rollout," Mr Hunt replied.
Rowland said he was "also excised about what's right and wrong" before wrapping up the interview.
He took to Twitter soon after to defend himself, urging viewers to "judge for themselves".
On the advice of the Scientific Industry Technical Advisory Group on Vaccine lead by Professor Brendan Murphy, the Australian Government has secured an additional 10 million doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. pic.twitter.com/OHGZ0eepUx— Greg Hunt (@GregHuntMP) February 4, 2021
"No, Minister, I don't identify with the left. My job as an ABC journalist is to hold ALL sides of politics to account, as I was this morning," he wrote.
"It was, and is, a simple question. You're welcome back on the show any time."
The government doubled its order of the Pfizer vaccine to 20 million doses last week.
But Mr Hunt's decision to tweet the news via his personal Twitter account caused controversy, as it linked a taxpayer-funded development to the Liberal Party.
Liberal NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian was grilled by Rowland over the post last week.
But she would not be drawn, saying she was "not aware" of the tweet.
"The federal Health Minister and Prime Minister have done an outstanding job," she said.
"I can't comment on anything I haven't seen, but I have complete confidence in the integrity of all those who acquired the vaccine".
Originally published as 'You do this a lot': ABC host slammed