Opposition leader Anthony Albanese has been declared the winner of the third and final leaders’ debate of the election campaign but we can’t get our hopes up, we’ve been burned before.
The leaders’ debate was aired on Channel Seven on Wednesday night and the winner was picked but about 150 undecided voters who overwhelmingly found Albanese beat Prime Minister Scott Morrison. More than 50 per cent voted for Albanese in the “pub test” compared to 34 per cent for Morrison and 16 per cent who remained undecided.
Much of the debate focused on wages and wage growth in relation to the increasing cost of living at the moment.
Earlier on Wednesday Albanese confirmed his support for a significant wage increase. Unions have been calling for a 5 to 5.5 per cent increase for a couple of months and when asked if he would support a pay rise of 5.1 per cent — the current rate of inflation — Albanese said “absolutely.”
He was asked again at the debate and said while the Fair Work Commission was independent of government he would welcome a decision that saw wage increases match inflation.
“If the increase is less than the inflation rate then what that means is they will be getting a real wage cut and they deserve better than that.”
To be clear, this is not a commitment to raise wages, but some people seemed to like what they heard.
Some industry groups however have said small businesses couldn’t afford to pay their staff more. Several unions rejected this claim, as well as Albanese at the debate.
“We need to look after people who are vulnerable. We need to do more than say, ‘Thanks very much for everything you did in the pandemic but now we are going to cut your wages’,” he said.
Again, he’s saying all the right things but he’s not actually saying he’ll change anything.
Morrison also said he’d “welcome a 5.1 per cent wage increase” for all workers but went on to argue a wage increase would push inflation up further and small businesses and poor starving employers couldn’t afford it.
“People won’t be worrying about what their wages are, they will be worrying about whether they have a job,” Morrison said.
But most experts have been saying um no, that’s not really how it works and we need wages to go up actually.
A 5.1% minimum wage rise would, give the RBA’s most recent projection see the min wage rise faster than inflaiton in just one quarter next financial year
— Greg Jericho (@GrogsGamut) May 11, 2022
The Australian Industry Group and the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry both made submissions to Fair Work Commission asking for increases of between 2 and 3 per cent.
It needs to be pointed out that politicians’ wages have increased 30 per cent in the last decade. Morrison is one of the highest paid world leaders on $550k a year.
The other big revelation from the debate was that Morrison promised to reinstate Alan Tudge as education minister if reelected. Tudge stepped down from Morrison’s cabinet following accusations of physical and emotional abuse made against him by an ex-staffer.
How thrilled all of Alan Tudge’s colleagues must be that five years after he never had sex with his press secretary we are still talking about the $500,000 being negotiated for something that never happened. 🥰
— Samantha Maiden (@samanthamaiden) May 11, 2022
The final leaders’ debate ended with each leader being asked to name something positive they respected and admired about the other.
“The thing about Anthony I’ve always admired [is] he has never forgotten where he has come from,” Morrison said. “He grew up in housing commission … and he has shown the ability to rise to be the leader of one of the oldest parties in this country.”
Is this a compliment? It sure doesn’t feel like one.
Scott Morrison decides to pat Anthony Albanese on the head for being such an impressive poor person. It is striking, apparently, that some peasants can read! #LeadersDebate
— Van Badham (@vanbadham) May 11, 2022
Morrison unable to go without putting in a negative says a fair bit, tbh #LeadersDebate
— Greg Jericho (@GrogsGamut) May 11, 2022
Albanese acknowledged the PM’s job was “obviously a difficult one to do” and also praised Morrison’s increased funding for mental health.
So Albanese has won all three leaders’ debates and has a healthy lead in the polls but truthfully all that means nothing. The only win that matters will come next Saturday, so make sure you actually get out and vote, OK?