The uneasy peace between Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison has been shattered with the former prime minister effectively branding his successor a liar.
Mr Turnbull has taken issue with Mr Morrison after the Prime Minister claimed Mr Turnbull’s two-day mission to Jakarta was to represent Australia at an oceans summit, not to discuss the future of the free trade agreement and other irritants in the relationship caused by Mr Morrison flagging a relocation of Australia’s Israeli embassy to Jerusalem.
“He was there to actually attend an oceans conference, the issues of trade and other things of course were not really part of the brief,” Mr Morrison told 2GB shock-jock Alan Jones, who was among those who campaigned for Mr Turnbull to be driven from office.
Mr Morrison then suggested Mr Turnbull did not conduct himself in an appropriate manner while abroad.
A few facts. @ScottMorrisonMP asked me to discuss trade and the embassy issue in Bali and we had a call before I left to confirm his messages which I duly relayed to @jokowi There was a detailed paper on the issue in my official brief as well.
— Malcolm Turnbull (@TurnbullMalcolm) November 1, 2018
“I’m always going to act with respect towards previous prime ministers, regardless of who they are. But I do think the exemplar of previous prime ministers, about how they go about things post, on our side politics is obviously John Howard and on the Labor Party side is Julia Gillard,” he said.
He responded “no” when asked if Mr Turnbull would ever again represent the government and “sprout his own discredited views”.
Mr Turnbull returned fire on Twitter, pointing out that part of his brief was to have a separate meeting with Indonesian President Joko Widodo to restore calm after Indonesia reacted angrily to the Jerusalem announcement.
“A few facts. (Mr Morrison) asked me to discuss trade and the embassy issue in Bali,” Mr Turnbull tweeted.
“We had a call before I left to confirm his messages, which I duly relayed to (Indonesian President Joko Widodo). There was a detailed paper on the issue in my official brief as well.”
In the lead-up to, and during the trip, The Australian Financial Review and others reported extensively that relationship management was a key part of the trip.
The Financial Review revealed Jokowi, who had a close personal relationship with Mr Turnbull, was upset at Mr Turnbull being ousted on August 24.
This raised concerns about the nearly completed FTA between the countries and the relationship more broadly. This was exacerbated by the Jerusalem announcement in the days before the Wentworth byelection.
Jokowi requested Mr Turnbull attend the oceans summit and Mr Morrison asked him to go, both personally and formally by letter.
It was well-known Mr Turnbull would be having a separate meeting with Jokowi to discuss the relationship. He also met Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Masudi who was most angry over the Jerusalem decision.
The government was cranky when Mr Turnbull, while in Jakarta, revealed that his government had undertaken a considered process about relocating the embassy and decided against it based on expert advice.
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