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Federal election 2022 live: Scott Morrison and Anthony Albanese prepare to face off in final leaders’ debate


Q: A lot of business operators, a lot of business owner, also thought it was extraordinary as well, Tony Burke, in the sense they’re now worried how they’ll pay a potential 5.1% increase.

Burke:

Look, I have got a good relationship with a lot of those business organisations that have been in the media and there’s different issues in terms of productivity that we have had very constructive conversations about. But in terms of the annual wage review, I do have to say – some of those commentators, most of them actually, for nearly a decade have been saying, “We can’t have wage increases because inflation is low.” And now they’re saying we can’t have wage increases because inflation is high. The reality is…

Q: They’re saying – they want wage increases, for instance, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry is making it 3% wage rise for minimum wage earners, it argues that is more realistic?

Burke:

Sorry, that’s a pay cut. If, inflation is running at 5.1%, then the figure you have just nominated there is a pay cut.

The people who are most reliant on the annual wage review are the people on the lowest wages. The minimum wage in Australia is $20.33 an hour, these are the people who are the heroes of the pandemic, who have kept the economy running during a time where a whole lot of us on higher incomes were able to work from laptops, but they weren’t, turned up, put themselves in harm’s way in differences ways particularly in the early stages of the pandemic, and they’re the people who find it the hardest to make ends’ meet.

They’re the people who are in the least capacity to draw down on savings and they’re the people who more than anyone need to make sure that wages can keep up with the cost of living and they don’t keep going backward.

Labor’s Tony Burke was on the same program responding to criticisms of Anthony Albanese’s support for a minimum wage increase in line with inflation:

For nearly a decade, this Government has had low wages as a deliberate design feature of their economic management.

They wanted to deliberately keep wages low and they have. Labor wants to get wages moving again and we will.

We cannot have a situation when everything is going up except wages and people keep going backwards.

And that’s what Anthony Albanese made clear yesterday.

The extraordinary thing about this story is not that Labor wants to make sure that wages keep pace with the cost of living, the extraordinary thing about this story is Scott Morrison doesn’t.

He – the outrage we’re seeing from him and his ministers at the moment as though somehow it would be a terrible thing for Australians to stop going backwards really says it all, that he doesn’t understand anything about what’s happening in the household budget at the moment.

Jane Hume then seemingly defends Scott Morrison’s criticism of barristers and lawyers yesterday as being taken out of context:

Q: Where have we become, as a nation, when the Prime Minister of Australia yesterday said that he has no truck with barristers and lawyers?

Hume:

Well, I don’t think he said that he has no truck with the legal system.

Q: No, no. No. He said – I’m going to read the quote here. “They disagree with me all the time. I have never had much truck with them – bars and lawyers – over the course of my entire political career.”

Hume:

I’m not entirely sure of the context of that comment but I can assure you the Prime Minister upholds the rule of law and respects the legal profession.

Q: The Bar Association is very angry about this. Matt Collins QC, who you probably know, a prominent silk in Melbourne, said this is an attack on Australia’s hard-working 6,500 barristers, making the point – which really doesn’t have to be made – barristers and lawyers are a key part of the system in Australia in terms of administering justice. Again, where are we at in a country with the Prime Minister saying he has no truck with barristers and lawyers.

Hume:

I don’t think this is a comment worth taking out of context.

Q: Well, the context is he was asked about the ICAC, his criticisms of the New South Wales ICAC, which he stood behind and then he pivoted to this. I’ll read the quote again. “They disagree with me all the time” – this is barristers and former judges who criticised the Prime Minister for criticising the New South Wales ICAC – “they disagree with me all the time. I’ve never had much truck with them over the course of my political career”.

Hume:

In the context of the Icac, the Government wants to make sure there is a Commonwealth integrity commission introduced in the life this parliament but we want to make sure that it’s one that presumes innocence, not guilt, that it doesn’t turn into a show trial, that it isn’t simply Icac on 24/7TV. We want to make sure it delivers integrity.

Q: Do you agree that ICAC is kangaroo court?

Hume:

I didn’t say that. The Prime Minister said that.

Q: What do you think of the Prime Minister describing it as a kangaroo court?

Hume:

We want to make sure – I do, as the Prime Minister, and the Coalition Government – that any Commonwealth integrity commission delivers justice, it delivers a presumption of innocence and it doesn’t deliver a show trial which is exactly what the Prime Minister is objecting too.

Talking points on Katherine Deves have obviously been sent out to Coalition MPs – compare this interview with Jane Hume to the earlier post on Stuart Robert talking on the same subject.

Q: The Liberal candidate for Warringah says transgender people who transition are surgically mutilated. The prime minister has defended those comments. Do you defend those comments?

Hume:

I think that Katherine Deves is fighting for an important cause, which is fairness for women in sport …

(There are already rules in place for most sporting codes to handle trans people in sport.)

Q: Yeah, she is fighting that cause, but I will stick to the question. This has to do with her assertion that transgender people are mutilated – mutilated – when they transition. Do you, like the prime minister did yesterday, defend those comments?

Hume:

I would not use those words. I wouldn’t use them on social media, and I wouldn’t use them in conversation with you or anyone. That said, Katherine Deves is fighting for an important cause.

Q: Should that have been what the prime minister said yesterday?

Hume:

I’m not going to pass judgement on what the prime minister did or didn’t say. But the most important thing is Katherine Deves is fighting for an important cause, which is fairness for women being able to play in sport fairly and equally.

Q: She’s making that argument but again she goes back to her assertions on transgender people. How do you think that will play – and you’ve been campaigning in seats under threat from teal independents in Melbourne – how will that play with the campaigns of Tim Wilson in Goldstein, Josh Frydenberg in Kooyong?

Hume:

I think there’s an awful lot of women in those seats that want to make sure that they and their daughters can play fairly and equally in sport. In sport.

Q: How would parents of [trans children], for argument’s sake, feel about the comments of Katherine Deves?

Hume:

I’m not going to second-guess how people would feel about those comments. Suffice to say …

Q: You don’t think they’d be, at the very least, upset?

Hume:

These are sensitive issues and should be approached cautiously, making sure our language is not insensitive in the way it’s expressed, because these are important issues and we know that particularly transgender children are some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

On the issue of wage growth, Paul Karp has taken a look at some of the issues:

Jim Stanford, the director of the Centre for Future Work, told Guardian Australia that ‘wages didn’t cause the current inflation’, which he blamed on “supply chains, the oil price spike, and an initial surge in post-pandemic spending”.

‘Telling workers they need to just swallow a permanent reduction in earnings, as a result of inflation they didn’t cause, in order to prevent future inflation, is neither fair nor economically justified,’ he said.

Stanford is a co-author of a report titled The Wages Crisis: Revisited that finds that since 2013, nominal wages have become locked into a trajectory of about 2% growth a year, about half the rate of before 2013.

Scott Morrison has argued during the election campaign that there is no ‘magic pen’ that can drive wages higher, and only low unemployment can do that.

But the report, also co-authored by professor Andrew Stewart and associate professor Tess Hardy, finds there is no systematic relationship between wage growth and labour demand and that Australia has had among the weakest wage growth in the OECD despite stronger macro conditions.

Q: What does it say to you – and what should voters read from the fact that you’ve been in power for eight and a half years and real wages have been anaemic at best?

Jane Hume:

We know this is not just an issue in Australia. I wouldn’t say anaemic. In fact, real wages have grown.

Q: Not by much, though.

Hume:

They haven’t grown at the rate we would like to see, but that’s because of a number of issues, and it’s not just Australia that has experienced [them].

Q: But you’ve had eight and a half years in power to address this problem. Surely voters can look back at that and ask serious questions as to, what has the Coalition done to improve my lot?

Hume:

I think the most important statistic that Australian voters should take to this election is that unemployment is so exceptionally low. It’s at 4% and looks like heading below that.

Of course, when there is low unemployment, employers think differently. They think what can I do to attract and retain the best employees? What do I pay them? What are my workplace standards? What is going to bring the best and the brightest to my business?

That changes the dial. We haven’t included the fact – and the RBA did in its decision-making around interest rates – that around a million people last year, and just in the last couple of months of last year, changed jobs, and they changed jobs for a pay increase of somewhere between 8% and 10%. That only happens when unemployment is exceptionally low.

That’s why the Coalition is committed to another 1.3 million jobs over the next five years, keeping that unemployment rate low – 450,000 of those in the regions as well.

But what does the Coalition think should happen, given inflation? Hume says:

The Fair Work Commission will make its decision based on all sorts of information – the cost of living and making sure wage rises are sustainable, fair and appropriate in the future, that they won’t necessarily throw the economy so out of whack that interest rates end up rising and inflation ends up rising as well.

We want to make sure the economy is sustained at a steady growth rate. Too high wage rises would disrupt that.

Jane Hume was on ABC News Breakfast making the government’s case against Anthony Albanese’s support for a minimum wage increase in line with inflation:

What’s wrong is Anthony Albanese weighing in on the independent Fair Work Commission’s decision as to what it should do with minimum wages.

That would be unprecedented. No government should weigh in on the Fair Work Commission’s decision.

The government, of course, provides the Fair Work Commission with information and data around how to make that decision, but it certainly doesn’t weigh in with a position.

The Fair Work Commission is independent, just like the RBA is independent on interest rates.

The Fair Work Commission should always remain independent on minimum wages.

Patricia Karvelas asks Stuart Robert if the government is “using trans people as political footballs”.

Robert:

No, not at all. I just want people to have respectful conversations and let the words be seasoned with grace.

Some conversations are difficult, and we should just be respectful.

We should have them – we should talk through the issues as a society because they are important.

PK: 10 days out from polling day, do you really think this is a top-order issue for Australians?

Robert:

My personal view is not, but it seems to be a top order issue for many journalists.

PK: You’re blaming journalists for your own candidate in Warringah?

Robert:

There’s no blame. But I’m happy to have a conversation, as is anyone standing for office, that the Australian people may may raise.

If I look at my own electorate, the biggest issue that people raise is cost of living, but I won’t shy away from any other conversation that people may seek to raise.

And I’d simply say to other Australians to echo the prime minister’s words, let’s have a graceful conversation.

Robert adopted exactly the same vocal tone as the prime minister as he discussed these issues, almost down to the same vocal inflections.

Stuart Robert and RN Breakfast host Patricia Karvelas have had a circular conversation about Katherine Deve’s comments about trans people and Scott Morrison’s ongoing support for his handpicked candidate.

Q: The prime minister has doubled down on his defence of Katherine Deves’s comments about transgender mutilation. Do you accept that that can’t be helping these MPs, including your own treasurer, in these seats that are being challenged [by teal independents]?

Robert:

It is a difficult topic. They’re not words that I would use. The prime minister made this point yesterday they are not words that he would use. The issue is about girls and sport and there are some families struggling with some real issues and identity, we understand that.

We’d like to have a civil, a gentle conversation. I think seasoned with grace would be a good way to explain it because it is a difficult issue. It is an emotive issue, but a bit more graceful words I think would go a long way.

PK: Okay, so the prime minister said gender reversal* surgery for young adolescents, you know, is something that it’s you can’t go back on but there’s no gender reversal surgery for young adolescents. That’s what the doctors have told us. They’re the facts minister. Why did the prime minister get it wrong?

[*It is gender confirmation or affirmation surgery.]

Robert:

I don’t believe the prime minister did get it wrong.

PK: But there is no gender [confirmation] surgery for people under 18. Do you accept that?

Robert:

I’ll leave that to the medical experts because I’m not the health minister, so I can’t comment on something I’m not across in terms of the health advice in that respect.

The key issue here is if there’s to be a national conversation, and there should be on all issues that are difficult, let’s do it respectfully, let’s use language that is gracious. Let’s lift people up, not tear them down. It’s difficult for families. So we should talk about the issues. We should talk about girls and sport. We should talk about …

PK: You say that. You talk about this as if this kind of approach should be taken. But isn’t it your own candidate and your own government, that’s been fuelling a very, very divisive debate on this?

Robert:

And again, I’ll go back to the prime minister’s comments yesterday that they’re not words he would use and certainly not words…

PK: But he’s stood by her and she’s using them.

Robert:

Well, we should stand by people who stand up for what they believe in. Ms Deves is a strong …

PK: Even if what you believe in is using divisive language, when just a moment ago, you told me that divisive language shouldn’t be used?

Robert:

It shouldn’t be used.

PK: So why stand by her?

Robert:

Because she’s a strong passionate woman who’s got something to say. Now, I may disagree with some of the words and terms she uses. But she is trying to stand up for something she’s passionate about and have a conversation about it.

PK: What’s the conversation you’re trying to have?

Robert:

The conversation she seeking to have is about girls playing girls in sport.

PK: No – she’s made comments about mutilation, trans people being mutilated, that’s not about playing sport, minister.

Robert:

And again, they’re not words that we would use.

PK: And yet she’s been backed by the prime minister.

Robert:

Because it’s an important issue she’s raising about girls in sport.

PK: What is the issue?

Robert:

That when it comes to sport, girls play against girls, and those that were ostensibly biologically male, who then make a choice to become a girl, that that becomes uncompetitive in sport.

That’s the conversation she’s having. That’s what she’s stood up for. That’s her sense of belief. So let’s have the conversation. But we’d encourage everyone to do it gracefully.

[It should be noted that there are already rules in place to deal with trans people playing sport.]

Stuart Robert is outraged over Anthony Albanese’s stated support for a 5.1% minimum wage increase, as he speaks to ABC radio’s RN Breakfast.

The last thing you want is political leaders providing commentary on what the independent umpire should do.

But when asked about the inflationary pressure of the government’s own spending, Robert says that is completely different.

Treasury makes the point that the cost of living adjustment package in the budget did not have a deleterious effect in terms of of inflation, and the budgetary supports we provided were designed to assist Australians because we could see the external inflationary pressures coming upon our shores.

Good morning

It’s the 31st day of the election campaign and we are still talking about all the things which dominated day one – it’s all just more intense now.

The third and final debate, this time hosted by the Seven Network, will be held tonight (after Big Brother) and comes at a time when both leaders are increasingly desperate to paint the other one as the risky desperado.

Scott Morrison thinks he has an in with Anthony Albanese’s assertion yesterday he “absolutely” would support a minimum wage increase of 5.1% to match inflation. Morrison is going with the “economic vandal” line – despite inflation expected to rise to about 6%.

Stagnant wage growth over the last few years (in real terms) has meant people have less money to spend as prices increase, and without a wage increase, they’ll have even less income. Keeping wages at pace with the cost of living means people can continue to buy the same amount of goods. If prices keep going up and wages don’t, cuts have to be made somewhere, meaning businesses lose out.

Morrison has seized on the line that a wage increase in line with inflation would only increase inflationary pressures, meaning rates would continue to rise and the cycle continues. But a 5.1% pay increase in a 5.1% inflation increase world wouldn’t mean people would have extra money – they would just be able to buy the same amount as they would have before inflation rose. You’ll be hearing more and more on that, though, over the next 10 days.

Meanwhile, Albanese will continue to push Morrison on a federal integrity commission, as the prime minister triples down on his attacks on NSW’s Icac. There’s also the not small issue of a new report showing 91% of the Great Barrier Reef’s coral reefs have been impacted by bleaching.

(We haven’t heard a huge amount from the environment minister this campaign.)

We will bring you all the day’s events. It’s a five-coffee minimum these days. I’m on my second and it’s barely hitting the sides.

Ready? I know the feeling. My left eye won’t stop twitching, but alas, we all have work to do.

Let’s get into it.





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