Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Image by (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)

Scott Morrison didn’t say “drought is a necessary evil to cull the weak”

FactCheck September 20, 2019

The Statement

AAP FactCheck examined a Facebook post from September 14, 2018 from a page titled “Football meat pies kangaroos and Turnbull/ Abbott LIES”. The post features a photograph of Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and a quote purported to be from him.

A Facebook post from September 14, 2018, attributes a false quote to Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Text beside the image of Mr Morrison reads: “I’m sad and angry Australia has rallied behind our farmers – almost every pub or Bunnings doing ‘buy a bail(sic)’, hay runners flogging their guts out to get hay to those in need from all over the country………….. And what does our Prime Muppet say? . ‘Drought is a necessary evil to cull the weak’. well….f*** you, Morrison !”

The “Football meat pies kangaroos and Turnbull/ Abbott LIES” page has more than 17,000 likes and describes its goals as “exposing the deceit and incompetence of the Australian Coalition Government”.

The post has been shared more than 3000 times and has attracted more than 200 comments and more than 370 reactions.

The Analysis

AAP FactCheck traced the quote to a video uploaded to the Mr Morrison’s Twitter account on September 11, 2018. The video included interviews with two farmers from the regional NSW towns of Bellata and Moree about their experiences during the drought. 

The tweet’s caption reads: “Another perspective on the drought: Feedlot operators from North West NSW, Michael in Bellata and Sandy from near Moree, explain what the drought means for them”.

The Prime Minister said a video interviewing farmers was part of the government’s response to the drought.

The video shows that the “necessary evil” phrase was said by Michael MacCue from Wilga Feedlot in Bellata. The full quote from Mr MacCue is: “In a way a drought’s a necessary evil. It can help cut out that bottom 10 per cent that probably shouldn’t be there anyway”.

The video features a message at the end stating it is authorised by Mr Morrison. 

The video in Mr Morrison’s tweet was raised in Question Time in the federal parliament on September 12, 2018, when the opposition  agriculture and resources spokesman, NSW Hunter Valley-based MP Joel Fitzgibbon, asked the Prime Minister why he had  authorised and posted the video which, he said, “dismisses those farmers hurting most?”

After initially stating he did not remember the video, Mr Morrison returned to the House of Representatives later the same day to respond to Mr Fitzgibbon saying: “earlier today I was asked by the member for Hunter about a post on my social media feed. He represented that this was a view that I had apparently stated.” 

Mr Morrison defended the video by saying the government’s response to the drought was “to go out there and listen to what people in rural and regional communities are saying to us”.

“I’m not going to censor their views,” he said.

Following the initial September 14, 2018 post, “Football meat pies kangaroos and Turnbull/ Abbott LIES” added an explanation in the comments section stating: “The video included comments from Michael MacCue, from the Wilga Feedlot at Bellata in the North West region of New South Wales. At the end of the short film, which focused on drought preparedness, an authorisation was provided confirming the video was made on behalf of “S. Morrison, Liberal Party, Canberra”.”

The page also posted a “modified version for clarity” version of the original post, also in the comments section, which changed the words “what does our Prime Muppet say” to “ what does our Prime Muppet say by way of a video he has endorsed?.”

The Verdict 

Based on this evidence, AAP FactCheck found the Facebook post falsely attributed the quote “Drought is a necessary evil to cull the weak” to Prime Minister Scott Morrison. The original quote did not feature the phrase “cull the weak” and was not from Mr Morrison. The original quote was from a farmer, Michael MacCue, who appeared in an authorised political video posted on the Prime Minister’s Twitter account. 

False – The primary claims of the Facebook posts are factually inaccurate.

 First published September 20, 2019, 14:44 AEST

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