The new federal government has scolded the outgoing Prime Minister after it was revealed Scott Morrison's office directed Border Force to publicise information about the interception of a suspected asylum seeker boat on election day.
Voters in a number of marginal electorates were sent a text message on election day about the boat in a highly unusual move which stood in stark contrast to the Morrison government's typical secrecy on border control.
The ABC revealed on Friday that Scott Morrison, in his final act as PM, made the request to release the information as millions of Aussies headed to the polls.
The controversial "stunt" is now subject to an inquiry by Home Affairs Department Secretary Mike Pezzullo, which was ordered this week by the incoming Labor government.
Scott Morrison has declined to comment about the latest revelation.
Both Mr Morrison and former Defence Minister Peter Dutton both fronted cameras on election day to speak about the alleged boat turn back.
'Disgraceful' text messages were a 'new low': Albanese
Speaking to ABC's 7AM this morning, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese labelled the election day move as "disgraceful" and an "abuse of proper processes", as well as "a clear breach of caretaker conventions".
"It was a desperate attempt to run a last-minute scare campaign ... They had lost perspective.
"This was a government that was prepared to politicise anything but solve nothing."
"And the politicisation of it stands in stark contrast to Mr Morrison's comments over many years that there would be no statement on ‘on-water matters’," he added.
"People were wondering what was going on when they received this text message.
"It was a real lowlight amongst many … this was a new low [for the Morrison government]," he said.
The Department of Home Affairs has also declined to comment, the ABC reported, due to the ongoing investigation. Former Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said this week she had no idea the text messages were being sent out.
"I had no knowledge of the text messages. I didn't know that they were being even contemplated," she said Wednesday.
"A lot of things were happening on election day. What the party chose to do is a party matter ... it wasn't something that was endorsed by me."
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