Scott Morrison publicly rejects Craig Kelly's views on unproven COVID-19 treatments after mounting pressure

It comes after the Liberal MP had a confrontation with Labor's Tanya Plibersek about his airing of misinformation in a tense standoff inside Parliament.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks during House of Representatives Question Time at Parliament House in Canberra on 3 February, 2021.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks during House of Representatives Question Time at Parliament House in Canberra on 3 February, 2021. Source: AAP

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has publicly distanced himself from Liberal MP Craig Kelly over his spreading of information about unproven coronavirus treatments. 

Mr Morrison had earlier hauled Mr Kelly into his office for a dressing down on Wednesday after Labor's Tanya Plibersek confronted him about his airing of misinformation in a tense standoff inside Parliament. 

Mr Kelly appeared to fall into line following the warning from Mr Morrison when he released a statement saying he would "support" the government's coronavirus vaccine rollout. 

Liberal MP Craig Kelly and Labor's Tanya Plibersek argue in the Press Gallery at Parliament House.
Source: AAP

Mr Morrison later told Question Time he did not support Mr Kelly's views.

"It is true that views expressed by the member for Hughes do not align with my views, or the views of advice that has been provided to me by the Chief Medical Officer," he said. 

Mr Morrison has faced increasing pressure from critics over his previous reluctance to call out Mr Kelly following months of him posting online about coronavirus treatments.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison reacts during  Question Time at Parliament House.
Source: AAP

The posts have been blamed for undermining public support in official health advice.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said Mr Morrison's response was overdue and labelled Mr Kelly's comments "dangerous".

"I welcome the belated statements of the prime minister in distancing himself from the comments of the member for Hughes," he told Parliament on Wednesday. 

In their earlier meeting, Mr Morrison made it clear to Mr Kelly he could not support his actions and asked him to refrain from pushing views contrary to the accepted medical advice. 

Mr Morrison informed Mr Kelly his actions were negatively impacting the government's vaccine strategy and that he should focus on constituents in his Sydney seat of Hughes. 

Tanya Plibersek confronts Craig Kelly over conspiracy comments in Canberra

It's understood Mr Kelly has agreed to restrain his social media use.

"This morning I had a meeting with the prime minister," Mr Kelly said in a statement. 

"The prime minister reinforced the importance of ensuring public confidence in the government's vaccine strategy. I agreed to support the government's vaccine rollout which has been endorsed by medical experts." 

"I believe that the spread of misinformation can damage the success of our public health response during the pandemic," he added.

Ms Plibersek had earlier told Mr Kelly she was concerned about the “crazy conspiracy theories” he was spreading during their clash.

“My mum lives in your electorate and I don’t want her exposed to people who are not going to be vaccinated because of these crazy conspiracy theories you are spreading,” Ms Plibersek said.

“You are the one doing that because you are the one spreading misinformation," Mr Kelly replied. 

Mr Kelly has denied spreading misleading information about unproven coronavirus treatments, saying he has merely posted health advice backed by “senior qualified medical experts”.

He said he is not an anti-vaxxer and would consult with his family doctor about making a decision on taking a coronavirus vaccine.

Public medical experts have warned against the spread of misinformation by government MPs, saying it would undermine trust in official health information and could hamper efforts to smother the virus. 

They've also called it irresponsible that the government have previously resisted speaking out against Mr Kelly's actions. 

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Published 3 February 2021 at 9:20am, updated 3 February 2021 at 5:27pm
By Tom Stayner