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Barnaby Joyce is delivering the National Press Club today.

Marise Payne and Penny Wong will debate each other this Friday.

Anthony Albanese will appear next Wednesday.

Scott Morrison has not accepted an invitation as yet.

The view from Murph

Katharine Murphy

Hello good people. If you are plugged in to the hustings today you’ll know the conversation is about wages. Yesterday, Anthony Albanese said he would support a wage increase for Australia’s lowest paid workers that would keep pace with inflation.

It’s a simple message, Labor favours real wage increases, not real wage cuts – although it was strange that the Labor leader seemed to suggest in an early radio interview on Tuesday the level of increase was broadly up to the ACTU but then warmed up to an increase of 5% at a press conference later in the day.

Scott Morrison has a more complicated position on this issue.

Sorry – I should be clearer, the prime minister has a very simple political message, which is that Albanese is an idiot who will crash the economy, a message that is shared on high rotation regardless of the specifics or merits of any proposal.

But back to the substance of the thing.

Morrison says the political class shouldn’t have views about wage fixation because the Fair Work Commission (FWC) is independent from government and that independence must be respected.

But in the same breath, he also suggests a 5% increase will make the sky fall in – a point that very obviously undercuts his first argument.

If the PM genuinely believes politicians should have no views about wages and leave this all to the FWC, then best to maintain that view, lest one be seen as trying to influence a process Morrison says politicians shouldn’t influence.

Scott Morrison has a simple message, that Anthony Albanese will crash the economy, regardless of the merits of any proposal. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/EPA

Just a couple of general observations. I am old enough to remember the inflationary pressure that existed in the economy before the inflation dragon was allegedly slain.

So I remember the old debates where business and other institutional interests in the economy screamed blue murder about giving employees a wage increase because that would feed inflation and help jack up interest rates – which was a narrative Australians became conditioned to accept.

I even remember the Accord – a compact between the Hawke government and the union movement where trade unions agreed to temper wage demands in return for a full court press by the government to control inflation.

I studied these developments in high school economics, before spending the opening years of my journalism career at the Australian Financial Review, where these issues were covered minutely.

But given inflation has not been a risk for governments or central banks to manage for years, there will be many Australians who don’t remember the olden times and will not have been conditioned by those debates in the way that GenXers like myself, and the Boomers before us, were.

It’s very obvious Morrison is trying to summon an old school debate on this question, and his efforts will be backed in by the same business groups that have always preferred higher profits and dividends than employee compensation. And of course, substantively, it is important to factor in the inflationary pressure associated with wage increases otherwise better compensation becomes zero sum – what goes in one pocket comes out the other.

But I wonder whether Morrison’s political pearl-clutching about inflation has the same potency for a generation that has never experienced inflation, subsists in a gig economy with next to no employment certainty, and has zero prospect of ever owning their own home unless they have access to the bank of mum and dad. The workers of the present generation have only ever known sluggish wages growth.

I suspect a simpler Albanese message, that we favour real wages growth, is both salient, and easier to communicate.

But Morrison cranking up the inflation dragon, backed by his amplifiers and institutional interests, is obviously a real and present threat for the Labor campaign to manage.

Updated at 22.35 EDT

Queensland reports 10 Covid deaths and 7,427 cases

Queensland Health has reported 10 people have died from Covid in the last 24 hours, along with 7,427 new cases in the state.

Updated at 22.27 EDT

The high court has upheld a decision by immigration authorities to cancel a South Sudanese refugee’s humanitarian visa, despite fears he could be killed if sent back, AAP reports.

His global special humanitarian visa was revoked in 2017 after he was convicted of assault in Victoria.

He is now on Christmas Island seeking to avoid deportation.

His lawyers argued he should not be sent back to South Sudan because he belongs to a minority tribe that killed his father and he would be tortured or killed if he had to return.

Australia has international obligations not to endanger refugees by sending them back to countries where they could face persecution, torture or death.

Despite the refugee’s appeals, in 2018 immigration authorities refused to revoke his visa cancellation.

They ruled that he could apply for a protection visa, at which time Australia’s international obligations to refugees could be fully considered.

In a judgment on Wednesday, the high court found immigration authorities had evaluated the refugee’s concerns about being sent back to South Sudan and he had not been denied procedural fairness.

Updated at 22.22 EDT

The press conference ends.

Updated at 22.02 EDT

Q: On that, on that point the prime minister says you are a loose unit and that your head flips open and stuff just falls out. What do you say to that?

Anthony Albanese:

Well, this prime minister is loose with the truth. He’s loose with the truth about his analysis of his opponents, but he’s loose with the truth for those people who have worked closely with him as well.

This is a guy who the deputy prime minister said, the more you get to know him the less trustworthy, and the more he bends the truth.

The fact is that he thinks that – so does the former prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull.

So do so many – so many people who have worked closely with him. I tell you the difference between me and I will conclude with this – the difference between me and Scott Morrison is that those people who have worked with me the closest for the longest are my closest friends and strongest supporters.

This guy – this guy cuts people loose, is what he does.

Which is why we are here in the electorate of North Sydney, during a federal election campaign – because people who have values, who have traditionally supported the Liberal party, are walking away from the most divisive prime minister in modern history.

This is a guy who never looks to bring people together, who never looks for unity, is always just looking for wedges and always looking for division.

Australia can be better. I want to bring business and unions together, large businesses and unions.

I want to bring small business and their employees together. I want to work with all of the state premiers and chief ministers and bring them together. Australians have conflict fatigue. They have been through two really tough years and we have a prime minister whose incapable of doing what’s needed to take Australia forward. Thanks very much.

Updated at 22.04 EDT

Q: Further on that question, are you saying – in response to your answer yesterday – you are saying that logically, wage increases should be tied to inflation? Because that’s what you seem to be suggesting.

Anthony Albanese:

No, I’m not saying that. I’m saying that people on the minimum wage right now, right now – and I gave a speech last Thursday, I know some of you were at the lunch, but if you go back and have a look at the speech, what it spoke about was productivity as being the key.

What it spoke about was bringing unions and business together for common interest to work together on that common interest.

To grow productivity … you can have wages increase and profits increase whilst not putting inflationary pressure [on] …

And that was the centre of my speech to the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry last Thursday, that’s my position.

But … when people at the moment, when there is no childcare relief, when there’s nothing happening on the social wage, when there’s nothing happening at all to alleviate people’s concerns at a time when – if the Fair Work Commission, which makes these decisions independently of government, makes that decision, that people shouldn’t get a real wage cut, would I welcome it? Absolutely.

Q: But Mr Albanese, on that logic you are suggesting that OK, people right now are suffering, they are not seeing their wages increase, if there was an increase of 5.1% you would welcome that. By that logic if inflation goes up to 6% next year …


That’s not logic.

Q: … isn’t that the same situation.


No, we have a – I have just gone through and it I don’t think you were there last Thursday but I encourage you to go read the speech.

Q: I watched it in the office, it was a great speech.


Thank you very much. Thank you for that endorsement.

I’m glad you watched. But what it spoke about was how you get wage growth and profit growth, it is something that without putting inflationary pressure on.

And we did that – this isn’t in the absence of debates and discussions I’ve had with the business community, with the union movement, I’ve said we will convene a full employment summit.

A full employment summit. And that – part of that agenda will be about how we improve economic growth, how about we improve it in a way that deals with inflationary pressures which is there, and we get win-wins.

It’s been possible in the past. The problem for this government is they don’t have plans, all they have is arguments and criticisms.

And at the moment we have a circumstance whereby this debate specifically is about whether people who are on far less than anyone in this press conference, far less.

These are people who are earning $20.33 an hour, whether they should get $1 more.

… I’m the Labor leader but I’m amazed that this is not a bipartisan issue because this is a government that had been prepared to go back, did a budget just a short while ago, whereby they made changes to petrol, they gave a $250 handout, they did all of this cost of living relief, saying there was a cost of living crisis.

Well, there is a cost of living crisis, people are doing it tough and that is why there needs to be action.

Updated at 22.05 EDT

Q: What do you think the rate of inflation will be in a year’s time under Labor?

Anthony Albanese:

That’s a question for economists. The idea that …

Q: It’s a question for a prime minister.


No, the idea that anyone could predict what the rate of inflation was a year ago now is of course a triumph of hope over experience.

Updated at 21.55 EDT

Albanese says Labor is ‘underpromising, so that we overdeliver’

Q: Is it wrong to link … minimum wage rises to CPI? And there was a question you were asked before by one of the women chatting about parenthood, why won’t Labor take adding superannuation to Paid Parental Leave to this election?

Anthony Albanese:

Because I have said I would like to do that, it’s something that would be a positive move.

But one of the things we are doing at this election is underpromising, so that we overdeliver.

We are in a position whereby we have a trillion dollars of debt, so we are not promising to do everything that we would like to do in our first term. And so I have made it clear would that be a good thing? Yes.

Are we in a position to promise things that might be difficult to deliver, no. We are being very clear and very up front. One of the things I’ve done during this campaign is that I speak about polling day, which we now know is May 21 but I also speak about the next election in three years time.

And I want to be in a position whereby I say, we said we will deliver cheaper childcare, and it’s happen we said we would address cost of living and we are doing that.

We said we would make more things here and it’s happening. We said we would be addressing climate change, and it’s happening. We are seeing that private sector investment in renewables. In renewables.

Updated at 22.08 EDT

Q: On the conversation we are having right now, yesterday the question to you was would you support wage hikes of at least 5.1%. To which you said “absolutely”. So, is that – were you saying absolutely to minimum …

Anthony Albanese:

That wasn’t what the question said. No, the question was – it went to, you don’t want people to go backwards, does that mean you would support a wage hike of 5% [5.1%] just to keep up with inflation. My answer … was absolutely, and I stand by it.

Updated at 21.50 EDT