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LIVE – Updated at 01:47

© Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP Scott Morrison and Anthony Albanese are preparing for the third leaders’ debate on Seven on Wednesday night, ahead of the 2022 Australian federal election on 21 May.

Follow all the day’s news.

 

Q: The RBA has said that real wages won’t increase until the end of 2023, with unemployment reaching almost full employment in that time and businesses only just starting to offer wage rises, what are Australians supposed to do in the next 18 months when the RBA is saying that real wages won’t increase in that time, how do they pay for things?

Scott Morrison:

They won’t be able to pay for things if inflation goes even higher and interest rates go even higher. That is why what Anthony Albanese is speculating on and running off at the mouth on, would only make that situation worse. It would only make it worse.

Labor would make the very issues you’re highlighting worse under what they are proposing.

(A journalist repeats the question.)

Q: Is it correct to say then that you – any workers will not see a real wage increase until that inflation number comes down? And would your government do anything to … look at trying to ease those global factors that you keep saying are causing Australia’s higher inflation level, particularly around supply chains?

Morrison:

… There are two things driving those inflation numbers at the moment. One is, of course, what’s happening with the – there’s a range of immediate factors. Let’s call them that. There is the war in the Ukraine, there is the shutdown in China because of Covid, and also we will continue to see, particularly this quarter, and perhaps the next quarter, the impact of the floods in Australia and what that means for fruit and veg prices and we have seen that when there is cyclones and other disasters in parts of the country in the past.

That will put pressure on prices. And they are things that occur well outside Australia’s control. The structural factors that are driving inflation are about those supply chain pressures that we are seeing which is a lag and a direct consequence of the pandemic.

And that’s why what we are talking about here, advanced manufacturing, linking up supply chain in Australia, critical supply chain work, whether it be in the critical rare earth minerals and so on – that’s what helps moving the supply chain efficiently.

On top of that, it’s ensuring that we keep getting people into jobs, keep that pressure in the system, which leads to sustainable wage rises, supported by businesses that stay in business.

I mean, this is one of the most difficult times with the pressures that are on the global economy and hence the Australian economy, that we have seen in a very long time.

And how we manage that must be sensitive, must be responsible, must be disciplined.

Now, what we saw yesterday from Mr Anthony Albanese, what we saw yesterday from Mr Albanese was loose. It was ill-considered.

It showed a lack of understanding of the relationship between wages and inflation, and interest rates. If you want your interest rates to be skyrocketing, as a result of what Anthony Albanese is suggesting, well, he’s your guy.

But what I’m saying, is Anthony Albanese will make it worse.

 

The press conference ends.

 

Q: Why haven’t you disendorsed your candidate for Lilley?

Scott Morrison:

Those matters are – sorry, did you say the candidate for Labor? Sorry I thought you said the candidate for Labor. I was going to say that has nothing to do with me.

Those matters are working their way through with the relevant authorities there and people are cooperating fully with those matters and I would expect them to do that.

But ultimately – and I will leave you on this – this is a choice as I say every single day. And it’s the responsible choice, the responsible choice at a time of great upheaval globally, with our economy, with international security, the responsible choice is for the Liberals and the Nationals – I’m just finishing up – The Liberals and Nationals is the responsible choice when it comes to the economy, and national security. With Labor you just don’t know what’s going to pop into Anthony Albanese’s head any day and what he will blurt out and what that will mean for your interest rates, for your cost of living and indeed Australia’s national security. Thanks very much everyone.

 

Q: If you win government but Josh Frydenberg loses his seat who will be the next Treasurer.

Scott Morrison:

That’s not something I’m speculating on because I know Josh will be returned.

Q: Isn’t it hypocritical you attack Labor for not confirming who the Defence Minister will be but the polls are accurate, Josh Frydenberg will not be treasure relationship

Morrison:

You know my view about the polls. Josh Frydenberg will the treasurer. I still don’t know who Anthony Albanese’s Defence Minister is going to be, I don’t know who his Home Affairs Minister is going to be.

[Do you know who will be your Treasurer?]

Morrison:

Yes, it is Josh Frydenberg.

 

Q: What personal would you be comfortable with then given all of the fact that you have just mentioned, or is it just no dice on a real wage rise.

Scott Morrison:

The figure I have always been comfortable with, and that is what is calmly determined, sensibly, by the independent process that looks at all of these factors.

That’s – that’s what discipline is. That’s what financial discipline works. Now, as you know, we have…

Q: [ The government makes a submission to FWC, so how can ou say it is wrong for any politician to suggest any increase when you go to fair work.]

Morrison:

As you know that’s never been our government’s policy and nor was it the previous government’s policy as you recall.

Because what…

Q: If Fair Work come up with 5.1% are they wrong?

Morrison:

I’m not speculating about what Fair Work is going to say. Anthony Albanese is the one who was recklessly making comments in this area, and he doesn’t seem to understand. So you know, when you’ve been a Treasurer for three years and a prime Minister for four years, you understand that careless speculation can lead to real world impacts in the economy. You don’t get – you don’t get the latitude to be loose like Mr Albanese was yesterday.

And that shows that he’s not up to the job, the job is bigger than him, he doesn’t understand the economy and if that’s not true he is seeking to take you for a ride.

 

Q: Prime Minister, today you are quoted as saying that it is economic vandalism …

Scott Morrison:

I didn’t say that.

Q: I want to confirm that, do you think it is vandalism …

Morrison:

I didn’t say that.

Q: You are not calling him a vandal?

Morrison:

I didn’t. That is a misquote in the paper. They were not my words.

Q: What is wrong with asking for a pay rise?

Morrison:

There is nothing wrong with asking for a pay rise but, obviously, it – and the Reserve Bank governor has said very clearly, that is what we are seeing in our economy, and the reason we are seeing that is because unemployment is coming down and businesses are growing and becoming stronger. That is where pay rises come from.

They come from businesses doing well*, not being shut down by reckless policy, by a Labor party that would see not only your interest rates go up more than they might otherwise do, or your cost of living go up even more, getting into a vicious spiral, going up and up and up.

What is he next proposing, if it goes to 6% they have to go by that and when that pushes it up to 7%, they go by that? That is how we ended up with 18% interest rates in this country under Labor.

That is what causes the worst of all outcomes, which is a crash in the economy. That is not responsible.

*Wage growth was stagnant before the pandemic in Australia.

 

Q: If you say that 5.1% for the minimum wage is a crazy pay rise and you think is a terrible idea – given the government has said it wants to see people earn more, what would be a more sensible minimum pay rise? And please don’t say the Fair Work Commission decides this or businesses determine wages. We have heard that from you before.

You are attacking Albanese for what he is saying, what is your alternative, sensible solution and that you propose is 5.1% is too high?

Scott Morrison:

An independent process that carefully calibrates and considers all the things in the economy that is sustainable.

Q: You are attacking Anthony Albanese …

Morrison:

I am attacking him for being thoughtless and not having a clue about the economy and not understanding how the economy works and not respecting the process of an independent setting of minimum wage conditions in this country and I will tell you why that is important, small businesses, businesses around the country have to make decisions about how they invest, how many people they employ.

They don’t want these things set by some erratic statement of a politician. They want this stuff to be carefully considered. Mr Albanese showed yesterday that he is a complete loose unit on this stuff.

He just runs off at the mouth. It is like he just unzips his head and lets everything fall on the table. That is no way to run an economy because that only leads, if you vote Labor, to having a leader who can make interest rates worse, who can make inflation worse.

 

Q: If you don’t support a wage increase of 5.1%, are you OK, comfortable with some of Australia’s lowest paid workers essentially getting a real wage cut?

Scott Morrison:

The Fair Work Commission is the appropriate body to look at all of the economic implications for where they set the minimum wage. If we wanted politicians to make this up, that is what we would have done. That is not wise.

In the same way the Reserve Bank goes and works out what interest rates should be and looks at all the various information and all the implications for the decisions they have to make, this is a very similar process.

It provides certainty, it provides stability in the management of our economy.

It is not a place where you will see the thought bubbles we saw from Anthony Albanese yesterday and they will think through because this is the end game of what Anthony Albanese says. He will say “Here is a 5.1% increase in your wages”, but then “Here is the interest rates you have to pay”, and “Here is the cost of living that it causes”. He pretends to give with one hand and then he sees interest rates and cost of living rises take it all back from you.

Q: You are comfortable with some of Australia’s lowest paid workers getting a real wage cut?

Morrison:

What I am saying is you need to balance all these things very carefully. That is what responsible economic management is. These are complex issues. What is the point of allowing someone to be put in a position where they are paying more and more, even more as a result of the inflationary impacts of what he was saying yesterday, let alone the impacts on interest rates which already have great pressure on them. This would only see interest rates rise even higher.

Is there any wonder that why, when Labor gets into power, that we see a deterioration around these things because they just don’t think about it. There is a reason why Anthony Albanese was never given a financial portfolio by …

Q: But …

Morrison:

I haven’t finished. Hasn’t been given a financial portfolio by any of the Labor leaders in the past. They knew he couldn’t be trusted with money. He is like someone working in a small business who they won’t let near the till, and the Australian people shouldn’t let him near the till.

 

It was only Monday that Scott Morrison was saying:

There’s no magic pen from Anthony Albanese that makes your wages go up.

But today apparently, Morrison believes Albanese has the power to destroy the economy with just an opinion on what the minimum wage rise should be.

 

We will hear a lot more about this in the answers:

Scott Morrison:

What he said yesterday puts a chain reaction in place – dominoes fall that lead to higher interest rates and higher cost of living.

If he doesn’t understand that … that tells you everything you need to know about what he doesn’t understand about the Australian economy. If he does understand it, he’s playing you for a mug.

He thinks he can run around at this election saying he can increase peoples’ wages and at the same time, see cost of living pressures fall and pressure on interest rates to remain down.

It just doesn’t work like that, you either don’t know what you are talking about and you are not up to the job, or you are taking the Australian people for a ride and I have called you out, Anthony.

‘What we saw from Anthony Albanese yesterday was reckless,’ says Scott Morrison

But Scott Morrison really wants to talk about Anthony Albanese:

What we saw from Anthony Albanese yesterday was reckless.

It was incredibly reckless. We all want to see wages go up, and indeed, the Reserve Bank governor has made it very clear that we are seeing wages starting to go up, but the way you engage in economic policy is not in the loose way we saw from Anthony Albanese yesterday.

Anthony Albanese is a loose unit on the economy. We saw that right at the start of the campaign.

He didn’t know what unemployment was. He didn’t know what the cash rate was. He says his policies are costed but they’re not costed.

When it comes to what he said yesterday, ill thought through, not understanding the potential consequences of what he was saying.

Yesterday, in what he said yesterday, it is like throwing fuel on the fire of rising interest rates and rising cost of living. He has had a lot to say about cost of living.

He has got no solutions or policies to put downward pressure on it and what he did yesterday would only exacerbate it, it would only make the problem worse.

Anthony Albanese’s intervention yesterday and his thoughtlessness on this would actually make inflation worse, it would make interest rates rise even higher, it would threaten the strong growth we have had in employment and, ultimately, it would force small businesses, potentially out of business altogether.

Scott Morrison announces ‘new technology’ manufacturing program

We have another pamphlet – this time on manufacturing.

This is a government, in our government, that is investing in the things that ensures the Australian economy can grow, and it is investing in the people, it is investing in their ideas, it is investing in their collaboration and their partnerships because that is what turns things around, that’s what creates the opportunity.

Australia is coming out of this pandemic stronger than all of the advanced economies in the world and the G7.

We have stronger economic growth, we have an outstanding world class health system, an outstanding world class education system – and what we’re building in the collaboration here between our universities and our companies will enable them to take advantage of the economic opportunities that Australia has in the years ahead. One of the biggest beneficiaries of that will be regional Australia – regions like right here in the Hunter.

 

01:15 Peter Hannam

Three weeks ago, we looked here at the challenges facing the Australian Electoral Commission in trying to recruit more than 100,000 employees at a time when the jobless rate was at about a 50-year low.

We’ll get the ABS’s April labour figures on 19 May, two days before the polls close, and a day after the March quarter wage price index data drops. That will tell us a bit more about how tight the jobs market is.

The AEC tells us the recruitment for AEC temporary election staff across the country “is going extremely well”. A spokesperson said:

With approximately 105,000 staffing positions we’ve had more than 200,000 people who’ve registered their interest which is fantastic.

That said, in some regional centres the AEC is competing against other industries such as mining and presumably seasonal farm workers. And there’s the challenge of ensuring some back-up recruits are on hand in case Covid disrupts sites at the last minute:

We expect and have planned for the furloughing of some staff, but with the scale and complexity of the election in a pandemic across Australia’s vast geography, some venues could be impacted at short notice.

Anyway, if you’re interested, there are still jobs going, and you can sign up here.

 

11 May 2022 00:58

Authorities have confirmed a woman has died in Queensland flood waters.

AAP reports:

A woman has died after the car she was in became submerged in flood waters triggered by days of torrential rain in north Queensland.

The woman became trapped in the vehicle with two other people on Surprise Creek Rd at Mount Ossa, north of Mackay, about 5am on Wednesday.

The two others escaped from the car, but the woman’s body was found a short time later.

The Queensland Ambulance Service said one of the people who survived was treated for a cut to their head.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services received more than 90 calls for help in the state’s north as six-hour rainfall totals reached 240mm in some areas by 1am on Wednesday.

“Although rain is expected to move off the coast in the state’s north today, a large number of roads remain flooded,” QFES said in a statement.

“Please avoid unnecessary travel and don’t risk it on flooded roads and causeways.

“If it’s flooded, forget it.”

Rainfall records tumbled at the Hughenden, Richmond and Cloncurry airports on Tuesday as those inland regions recorded their highest May totals ever.

Townsville is set for totals up to 250mm on Wednesday and Thursday with the severe weather warning indicating up to 200mm in a six-hour period.

“That whole area under the severe weather warning could see flash and riverine flooding,” Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Laura Boekel said on Tuesday.

A flood watch is current for dozens of river and creek catchments across Queensland and almost 300 roads have been cut by flood waters.

In the south-east, heavy rain hit the Sunshine Coast and northern Brisbane, with 135mm falling at Mapleton and 113mm at Maleny.

“If you are on the road this morning take extra care and plan your drive. If you come across flood water, back it up and find an alternate route,” QFES said in a Facebook post on Wednesday.

“With the ground already saturated and further heavy rainfall possible, there is a risk of flash flooding today and over the coming days.”

Seqwater has alerted Moreton Bay region residents it has started flood releases from North Pine Dam, with releases also set to start from Wivenhoe and Somerset Dams into the Brisbane River from 10am.

The utility expects the releases to flood Savages Crossing, Colleges Crossing, Burtons Bridge and Kholo Bridge downstream, but not Fernvale Bridge.

“If you are downstream of the dam, stay away from fast flowing or deep water near waterways and floodplains,” Seqwater said.

Queensland woman dies in flood waters

11 May 2022 00:56 Eden Gillespie

A woman has died in flood waters in north Queensland, premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told parliament on Wednesday.

Emergency crews were frantically searching for a woman after a car washed away in Mount Ossa, north of Mackay.

“I’m advised they have recovered the body … I offer my heartfelt condolences to the family and I sincerely hope that this is the last tragedy,” Palaszczuk said.

A Queensland Fire and Emergency Service spokesperson said they received a call around 5am on Wednesday about a missing woman and a vehicle washed into flood waters at Seaforth Rd and Surprise Creek Rd.

A police spokesperson told Guardian Australia they believed two people had managed to escape the vehicle.

Palaszczuk said the incident was “a stark reminder” of the dangers of weather events.

She said the SES has responded to more than 110 requests for assistance since 3pm on Tuesday.

 

11 May 2022 00:50

Scott Morrison is campaigning in Newcastle (Labor MP Pat Conroy’s seat of Shortland) this morning.

Both Morrison and Anthony Albanese will be keeping close to NSW, given the debate in Seven’s Sydney studios tonight.

 

11 May 2022 00:49 Paul Karp

Liberal MP Fiona Martin has denied confusing her opponent, Sally Sitou, for unsuccessful Labor aspirant in Fowler, Tu Le.

This morning, Martin accused Sitou of running in Reid because she “found an opportunity”. “And you couldn’t run in Fowler … Kristina Keneally kicked you out of Fowler too.”

Martin told Guardian Australia:

Sally grew up in Fowler. Keneally reportedly declined Reid and went for Fowler. I think it makes sense to want to represent the area you grew up in or where you have a long association. Sally’s association with Reid is less than three years total.

So, on Martin’s version, she didn’t confuse Sitou and Tu Le, she was just speculating that Sitou might also have wanted to run in Fowler and also have been displaced by Keneally.

Earlier, Sitou told 2GB Radio:

I didn’t want to raise this, but I chose to live in this electorate because I love the community … Now [Martin is] just making things up. That’s how ridiculous this debate has gotten. I’m sorry your listeners have had to listen to that.

Keneally only made a lower house tilt in 2021 after losing the battle for a winnable senate spot on the NSW Labor senate ticket to Deborah O’Neil.

Victoria to become first state to ban Nazi symbol

11 May 2022 00:47 Benita Kolovos

The Victorian government is set to become the first Australia state or territory to ban the Nazi symbol, with legislation to be introduced to state parliament today.

The Summary Offences Amendment (Nazi Symbol Prohibition) Bill 2022 will make it a criminal offence for a person to intentionally display the Nazi swastika, the Hakenkreuz, in public.

Once passed, anyone who intentionally displays the symbol in public faces penalties of up to almost $22,000, 12 months imprisonment or both.

The bill also recognises the cultural and historical significance of the swastika for the Buddhist, Hindu and Jain faiths and does not prohibit its display in such contexts.

It comes after a parliamentary inquiry last year recommended the ban, citing a recent rise in neo-Nazi activity.

NSW is also working on similar legislation.

 

11 May 2022 00:33

In state news:

 

11 May 2022 00:31

Liberal MP, Dr Fiona Martin, who is fighting to hold on to the Sydney electorate of Reid, debated her Labor challenger, Sally Sitou, on Sydney radio 2GB this morning.

Sitou, whose Chinese parents fled Laos after the Vietnam war, was preselected for the seat of Reid in October last year.

The debate got heated, particularly when it came to Martin not living in the electorate (she grew up in it, Sitou lives in it, but grew up in Fowler).

That led to this exchange:

Martin:

You found an opportunity and you couldn’t run in Fowler. Kristina Keneally kicked you out of Fowler too.

Sitou:

Now she’s just making things up. I mean, that’s how ridiculous this debate has gotten. And I’m really sorry that your listeners have had to listen to that.

Tu Le, a lawyer with Vietnamese heritage, had been backed by retiring member Chris Hayes to replace him as Labor’s candidate for Fowler, but had her preselection over-ruled by the NSW Labor branch, who parachuted in Keneally.

 

11 May 2022 00:07

Prepolls have only been open since Monday and more than 600,000 people have already lodged their vote.

And for those asking, yes, prepolls are counted on election night.

 

11 May 2022 00:06

The Liberal campaign have a new social media ad, aimed at putting the prime minister saying “that’s not my job” into context.

Peter Dutton has been sharing it this morning.

28 lives lost to Covid in NSW and Victoria

11 May 2022 00:06

It has been another tragic 24 hours in Victoria in terms of the impact of Covid, with 17 lives lost.

NSW Health has reported 11 deaths.

 

10 May 2022 23:59

Tony Burke says Anthony Albanese was not making policy on the fly when he backed a figure for a minimum wage increase:

Q: Up until Anthony Albanese responded to that question at a media conference yesterday, Labor’s position on the Fair Work Commission case was it wasn’t going to back any figure. Was Anthony Albanese freelancing in responding that way?

Burke:

Not at all. You heard all of us on many occasions for a long time now say people can’t keep going backward.

Q: Not backing a particular figure is what I’m saying.

Burke:

No, the figure yesterday is the figure that, if you fall below, people are going backwards. Like, for a long time, we have been saying people can’t keep going backwards and as I say, yesterday the question was put as to the figure, which if you fall below people are – would start going backwards.

It’s unsurprising that Labor wants to make sure that wages can keep pace with the cost of living.

But as I say, he wasn’t questioned on it yesterday because he didn’t face the media scrum again after Anthony Albanese had answered that question.

But today, it’s on Scott Morrison to explain why he believes Australian workers should go backwards, because let’s not forget, in the debate the other night, it wasn’t only this – we know now his position is that real wages should fall.

When he was asked directly whether Australians should even be at least paid the minimum wage, his response was, “It depends.”

We have a prime minister here whose not only refusing to support wages keeping pace with the cost of living, he’s also refusing to back in their being a safety net for a whole lot of workers.

Q: The prime minister has responded through the Australian late yesterday where he described Anthony Albanese’s comments as “economic vandalism”. You should factor – surely you factor in any increase of that magnitude by the Fair Work Commission would have clear flow-on effects to inflation and then interest rates?

Burke:

Well, have a look at both what the Treasury secretary and the RBA have said with respect to inflationary pressures where both of them have made clear that you can go to inflation plus productivity, productivity is currently running at 1%, and if wage increases are in line with inflation plus productivity, then you should not be having inflationary pressures.

Last year, for example, when inflation was forecast to run with a number with a 1 in front of it, the annual wage review still put forward a wage increase of 2.5%. It’s not unheard of at all for the annual wage review to go in front of inflation so long as you don’t go inflation plus productivity, it doesn’t have an inflationary impact.

What’s happening now is when people are finding it harder than ever; when the cost of living is, in fact, going backwards for a whole lot of wage earners across the country, it’s at this moment that Mr Morrison is refusing to say that wages should even keep up.

 

10 May 2022 23:52

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.

 

10 May 2022 23:51

Q: A lot of business operators, a lot of business owners, 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 different 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.

 

10 May 2022 23:45

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.

 

10 May 2022 23:42

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.

 

10 May 2022 23:37

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.

Related: Industry warns ’small business can’t afford it’ after Albanese backs 5.1% minimum wage rise

 

10 May 2022 23:33

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.

 

10 May 2022 23:30

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.

 

10 May 2022 23:26

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.

 

10 May 2022 23:22

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.

 

10 May 2022 23:19

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.]

 

10 May 2022 22:51

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

10 May 2022 22:41

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.