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Reports of 'long-running tension' on The Project between Lisa Wilkinson and Peter van Onselen


Lisa Wilkinson’s Instagram post on Tuesday where she thanked sexual assault survivor Grace Tame for ‘making noise’ in her time as Australian of the Year, hints at ‘long-running tension behind the scenes’ on The Project, a new report has claimed. 

According to News.com.au on Wednesday, the post following Tame’s frosty encounter with PM Scott Morrison at a morning tea, ‘comes amid swirling industry rumours of historical tension’ between Wilkinson and colleague Peter van Onselen. 

Wilkinson’s peers on Tuesday’s The Project got into a heated row over van Onselen’s column where he labelled Tame’s behaviour towards the PM ‘immature’. 

Chaos behind the scenes? Lisa Wilkinson's gushing Instagram post in support of Grace Tame shortly after Carrie Bickmore's on-air showdown with Peter van Onselen, 'suggests long-running tension' on The Project, a new report has claimed. Pictured: Lisa Wilkinson

Chaos behind the scenes? Lisa Wilkinson’s gushing Instagram post in support of Grace Tame shortly after Carrie Bickmore’s on-air showdown with Peter van Onselen, ‘suggests long-running tension’ on The Project, a new report has claimed. Pictured: Lisa Wilkinson 

Daily Mail Australia has reached out to Channel 10 and Wilkinson’s representatives for comment. 

Wilkinson posted a lengthy tribute to the 27-year-old on Tuesday night, following Tame’s awkward encounter with Scott Morrison at the Australian of the Year morning tea for this year’s finalists.

‘Thank you Grace. Thank you for always speaking your truth. Thank you for never wavering from your passionate fight for justice for survivors of sexual assault,’ the presenter wrote.

Claims of tension: According to News.com.au on Wednesday, the post following Tame's frosty encounter with PM Scott Morrison at a morning tea on Tuesday, 'comes amid swirling industry rumours of historical tension' between Wilkinson and colleague Peter van Onselen (pictured)

Claims of tension: According to News.com.au on Wednesday, the post following Tame’s frosty encounter with PM Scott Morrison at a morning tea on Tuesday, ‘comes amid swirling industry rumours of historical tension’ between Wilkinson and colleague Peter van Onselen (pictured)

Leaping to her defence: Wilkinson, 62, thanked Tame, 27, for 'making noise' in her time as Australian of the Year. Tame is pictured at the 2022 Australian of the Year Awards on Tuesday

Leaping to her defence: Wilkinson, 62, thanked Tame, 27, for ‘making noise’ in her time as Australian of the Year. Tame is pictured at the 2022 Australian of the Year Awards on Tuesday 

'Thank you for always speaking your truth': The presenter and journalist said Tame's impact as Australian of the Year would be felt for 'generations to come'

‘Thank you for always speaking your truth’: The presenter and journalist said Tame’s impact as Australian of the Year would be felt for ‘generations to come’

‘Thank you for doing everything within your power to make sure over the last 12 months that those in charge were listening, and acting on much-needed change.’

The post came shortly after her colleagues on The Project got into a heated row over van Onselen’s column where he labelled Tame’s behaviour towards the PM ‘immature’.

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She continued to thank both Tame and fellow advocate for survivors of sexual abuse Brittany Higgins for their tireless campaigning.

‘Grace, the imprint you leave as Australian Of The Year will be felt for generations to come,’ Wilkinson said.

‘Finally, and most importantly Grace, thank you for making noise … just like you promised you would.’

The heartfelt message came after Tame’s tense reunion with Mr Morrison at his residency in Canberra.

Controversy: Tame had sparked controversy after posing stony-faced next to Scott Morrison at The Lodge on Tuesday morning (pictured)

Controversy: Tame had sparked controversy after posing stony-faced next to Scott Morrison at The Lodge on Tuesday morning (pictured) 

Tame had avoided eye contact with Mr Morrison and refused to smile for photographs together at the morning tea, with Tame’s blatant rejection of the PM sparking controversy.

Sharing an Instagram story during her time in Canberra, Tame joked: ‘I’m surprised they let me in’.

She also posted a meme from the popular satirical Instagram page the Betoota Advocate.

Frosty encounter: Tame (pictured with fiancé Max Heerey, right) looked underwhelmed as she stood alongside the PM and his wife Jenny (pictured left)

Frosty encounter: Tame (pictured with fiancé Max Heerey, right) looked underwhelmed as she stood alongside the PM and his wife Jenny (pictured left)

The image showed a stony-faced Tame standing beside a beaming Mr Morrison with the caption: ‘Woman faces backlash for not pretending everything is okay’.

Tame was later pictured at the 2022 ceremony, where sporting legend Dylan Alcott won this year’s award, enjoying a cosy chat with Labor leader Anthony Albanese. 

She has been open about her opinion on the Morrison government and Tuesday’s morning tea wasn’t the first awkward encounter she’s shared with the PM.

Having given a speech at last year’s Australian of the Year ceremony, she was surprised by Mr Morrison’s reaction and went public with it.

Online: Tame later joked about her frosty encounter with the PM, reposting a meme from the satirical Instagram page Betoota Advocate which captioned the reunion 'Woman faces backlash for not pretending everything is OK'

Online: Tame later joked about her frosty encounter with the PM, reposting a meme from the satirical Instagram page Betoota Advocate which captioned the reunion ‘Woman faces backlash for not pretending everything is OK’

‘Do you know what he said to me, right after I finished that speech and we’re in front of a wall of media?’ the Tasmanian later told a podcast. 

‘I s**t you not, he leaned over and right in my ear he goes, ”Well, gee, I bet it felt good to get that out”.’ 

Soon afterward, Tame took up the cause of Brittany Higgins, a former Liberal Party staffer who claims she was sexually assaulted inside Parliament House and accused the government of covering it up.

When Mr Morrison later apologised to Ms Higgins for her experiences, citing advice from his wife and consideration of his own children, Tame hit out at him and said ‘it shouldn’t take having children to have a conscience’.

In tweets, she accused Mr Morrison of using a speech to the Women’s Safety Summit to ‘leverage his own image’, and said of his appearance in a cricket commentary box that he used ‘well practiced dribble’ to win favourable media coverage. 

All smiles: Tame was seen posing happily with Labor leader Anthony Albanese (pictured) at Tuesday night's ceremony, just hours after giving PM Scott Morrison the cold shoulder

All smiles: Tame was seen posing happily with Labor leader Anthony Albanese (pictured) at Tuesday night’s ceremony, just hours after giving PM Scott Morrison the cold shoulder

She had launched her attacks on the PM before she was even in the AOTY role, taking a swipe at the government’s record on climate change hours before she was given the prestigious honour. 

Before the 2021 ceremony, her then-boyfriend Max Heerey posted a video on his Instagram showing Tame walking up behind Prime Minister Morrison, with the caption: ‘Creeping up like climate change’.

The Instagram story – which Tame also later shared to her own page – included an emoji of a Santa sack full of coal, and the word ‘aloha’ – in reference to Mr Morrison’s controversial trip to Hawaii last year at a time when bushfires raged across Australia.

Earlier on Tuesday night, Wilkinson’s co-host Carrie Bickmore unleashed on fellow panellist van Onselen over his scathing opinion piece on the awkward meeting, calling Tame ‘ungracious, rude and childish’, suggesting she should have just stayed home.

Bickmore and guest Amy Remeikis, who is a sexual assault survivor herself and journalist, took issue with his comments and questioned why Tame needed to act a certain way.  

‘Your column today, devastating to so many people,’ Remeikis said.

‘Woman constantly have to come out talk about their trauma… talk about not being taken seriously, scream the roof down get to the point where I’m almost crying on national television to talk about this.

Vocal: Tame (pictured with her fiancé Max Heerey) has been a vocal critic of the Morrison government

Vocal: Tame (pictured with her fiancé Max Heerey) has been a vocal critic of the Morrison government

‘We’re constantly being told how we should act, who we should think about and who perhaps should be seen in our place.’

Bickmore then asked van Onselen why he felt he needed to tell Tame to act in a certain way and to smile during a ‘catastrophe’.

‘I didn’t think she should smile and pretend it’s OK, I just thought she shouldn’t go, if you can’t be polite in some form, I think just don’t go,’ he said, adding he applauded everything Tame had done for survivors of sexual assault.

The Project panellist then asked why should Tame be silenced and not able to attend the morning tea to which van Onselen said ‘if you can’t show basic courtesy I think it’s immature’.

‘You spoke about how she acted as a child, you know when she should have been able to act as a child? When she was a child. But she was preyed upon by a man and lost part of herself in that,’ Bickmore fired back.

On-air showdown: The Project co-host Carrie Bickmore (right) questioned why van Onselen (left) wrote an opinion piece on Tame, suggesting if she was going to act 'immature' she should have stayed home

On-air showdown: The Project co-host Carrie Bickmore (right) questioned why van Onselen (left) wrote an opinion piece on Tame, suggesting if she was going to act ‘immature’ she should have stayed home

‘I’m unsure how that article today helps when I’m assuming, like the entire nation, you want violence against women and children to end?’.

The commentator responded saying he had been the victim of an attempted sexual assault and understood the importance of the conversation around sexual abuse.

‘But I just think if you can’t be polite to the Prime Minister of the country, I get it, I said in the article, I get it, if she can’t be polite to him but then just don’t go,’ van Onselen said.

Remeikis chimed in asking why should Tame and other sexual abuse survivors have to ‘be polite’.  

‘I don’t think she should. I don’t think she should stand there and smile, I just think she shouldn’t go if you can’t show basic courtesies to the Prime Minister,’ the panellist responded.

‘But you wrote an entire column saying she was being childish because she showed her authentic feelings,’ Remeikis hit back.

‘I thought she was being childish, I don’t have a problem with her having a problem with Scott Morrison,’ van Onselen said.

He was then asked repeatedly why he wrote the article to which he said ‘I think it’s juvenile to respond that way’.   

Tame was awarded Australian of the Year in 2021 for leading a campaign for a legal change that allowed sex abuse survivors to speak out. 

She had been groomed and molested by her maths teachers when she was just 15-years-old. 

Recognised: Tame was awarded the 2021 Australian of the Year for leading a campaign for a legal change that allowed sex abuse survivors to speak out

Recognised: Tame was awarded the 2021 Australian of the Year for leading a campaign for a legal change that allowed sex abuse survivors to speak out

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