Scott Morrison has revealed he is not contemplating quitting politics if he loses the federal election on Saturday.
The prime minister clashed with Leigh Sales in a fiery showdown on ABC’s 7.30 program on Monday over his policies and leadership as he desperately tries to defend his title.
Despite trailing behind in the polls, the prime minister said he had not even considered his defeat a possibility.
‘Looking head to Sunday, if the coalition has lost, can we take it as a given you’ll be standing down as leader?’ Sales asked.
Mr Morrison replied: ‘I don’t speculate on things like that.’
But Sales was not convinced.
‘Oh, come on. It’s in a few days’ time. You must be thinking about it. Can we take it as a given you’ll be standing down?’
Scott Morrison has fiercely defended his government in a tense showdown with Leigh Sales on ABC’s 7.30 program
‘No,’ Mr Morrison replied.
‘I’m not contemplating that on being a scenario.’
With just days left until Australians hit the ballot booths, Sales grilled the Prime Minister over his government’s shortfalls and criticisms, sparking heated debate as Mr Morrison jumped on the defensive.
Throughout the segment, the PM repeatedly cut Sales off and tersely disagreed as she brought up complaints about the LNP’s handling of the economy.
But two contentious topics – the government’s new superannuation first home buyer scheme and community sports grants being used to prop up marginal seats – appeared to particularly get under Mr Morrison’s skin.
‘You have spoken about things you would have done differently. What would you have done differently for example when it came to the way your government used community sports grants as a slush fund to channel money to marginal seat?’ Sales posited.
Mr Morrison bristled.
‘I completely reject that,’ he fired back.
Sales pointed out that her assertion was the finding of the Australian National Audit Office, who found that half of successful projects that weren’t recommended by Sport Australia went to marginal seats.
But Mr Morrison denied the fund allocations were politically motivated and claimed the agency was ill-equipped to make such an assessment.
Sales appeared to get under the PM’s skin after bringing up brutal criticisms of his leadership
‘I don’t think public servants sitting in Canberra have a better idea of what people need in their communities than their members of Parliament,’ he said.
Sales continued to stoke Mr Morrison’s defensiveness by bringing up his controversial new plan to allow first home buyers to dip into their superannuation to pay for a deposit.
Since it was announced on Sunday, the scheme has been widely condemned amid concerns it will fuel the soaring property market and will be detrimental to young Australian’s retirement funds in the long term.
Critics have pointed out several luminaries of the Liberal Party have previously condemned the notion of introducing policies that would allow people to raid their super to purchase a home.
‘Your own superannuation minister Jane Hume said it would drive housing prices up short term,’ Sales said.
‘What’s the point of a policy that makes already insane housing prices even worse?’
Mr Morrison argued the policy would not impact supply as it is designed to work alongside another scheme which will encourage older Australians to downsize into smaller homes.
‘What Jane was referring to was in isolation, when you take all of our housing policies together, in particular the downsizing policy.
‘The downsizing policy actually gets more housing stock into the market. I mean, our housing market, each year, I think some $687 billion. This measure affects up to 1% of it.
‘The suggestion this will not have any sort of significant impact, I don’t think bears up to scrutiny.’
When asked what would happen if the Australian property bubble burst, the prime minister deflected the question.
Superannuation Minister Jane Hume (right) has admitted that inflated house prices will rise further for a period of time due to the government’s Super Home Buyer scheme. (Pictured with Treasurer Josh Frydenberg)
Scott Morrison said he was not contemplating quitting politics if he losses at the ballot booths this weekend
‘What you’re suggesting is owning your own home is a gamble Australians shouldn’t take, I don’t agree with that,’ Mr Morrison said.
‘Owning your home is the most significant asset for most Australians that they will ever own.
‘I know it’s the case for Jenny and I, and I believe buying a home is the best economic decision that you can make.
‘And it’s the strongest thing you can do for families and communities.’
Mr Morrison said the scheme was a way to help people deal with rising cost of living pressures and get them into their own homes.
‘You let them use their own money,’ he said.
‘You don’t lock it away from them where someone else is in control of it … it’s theirs.’
Mr Morrison said criticisms that he didn’t take responsibility for things that went wrong, or that he lied were Labor’s and not the community’s.
‘During the course of a crisis and a pandemic, you’ve got to move fast, you’ve got to be decisive,’ Mr Morrison said.
‘That means sometimes you can’t take everybody with you. And you don’t always get everything right either.’
Earlier, Superannuation Minister Jane Hume said there would be an increase in house prices under the Coalition’s housing proposal.
Scott Morrison’s plan to allow Australians to put $50,000 of their super into buying their first home could help them get into the market much sooner as prices surge (the Prime Minister is pictured campaigning in Ipswich on Monday)
‘I would imagine that there would be a lot of people that bring forward their decision to buy a house so I would imagine in the short term you might see a bump in house prices,’ she told ABC Radio National on Monday.
‘But that doesn’t play out the long term benefits of more home ownership, fewer people relying on rent.’
Mr Albanese said the prime minister’s proposal proved he just wanted to cut people’s super rather than address housing affordability.
‘If you take super away from people, then you’ll have higher deficits and bills from the government in the future,’ he told reporters in Perth on Monday.
‘This is an attack on future savings, it’s an attack on future generations, it’s not about assisting people.”
On Sunday Mr Morrison announced first home buyers would be able to access 40 per cent of their superannuation up to $50,000 to buy a house.
In addition, a re-elected coalition would expand a scheme to encourage older Australians to downsize and free up housing supply.
The Super Home Buyer scheme allows prospective home buyers to use 40 per cent of their superannuation, up to $50,000, towards their first home
Mr Albanese said even senior Liberals had opposed the proposed superannuation policy in the past.
‘The government in its desperation has come up with a thought bubble that according to itself has not been modelled (and) they have no idea what the impact will be,’ he said.
‘Minister Hume belled the cat, (she) has said that it will put upward pressure on housing prices.’
Labor’s housing alternative involves a ‘help to buy’ scheme where 10,000 low income earners would be eligible for a government equity contribution to help enter the housing market.
The Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees said the coalition’s plan would drive up house prices and undermine the core purpose of the super system.
‘Using super as a deposit will drive up property prices, leaving Australians with higher debt and depleted retirement savings,’ the institute’s chief executive Eva Scheerlinck said.
‘Superannuation … is not a piggy bank the government can open at its convenience to avoid dealing with the real systemic issues facing first home buyers.’