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Scott Morrison and Anthony Albanese face off in Sky News’ first election debate

Scott Morrison and Anthony Albanese face off in Sky News' first election debate 2

Scott Morrison has sensationally accused Anthony Albanese of ‘taking China’s side’ following the security deal between the Communist country and the Solomon Islands as the first election debate kicks off. 

One hundred undecided voters fired off questions to both leaders in Sky News and The Courier Mail’s People’s Forum on Wednesday night. 

The Prime Minister said the deal came after years of Chinese interference in the region and Australia wasn’t to blame, questioning why Labor had criticised the country’s response.

‘Why would you take China’s side?’ Mr Morrison said.

Mr Albanese erupted at the question, saying: ‘That’s an outrageous slur from the prime minister — national security shouldn’t be the subject of that sort of slur’. 

‘This is a Pacific stuff up, not step up. We should have been on top of this issue.’

Sky News commentator Andrew Clennell described Mr Albanese’s attack on him about China as an ‘overreach’.  

Earlier both leaders stumbled when asked about electric vehicles, failing to address the charging and range issues which have prevented Australians from switching away from petrol cars, including a slip up from Mr Albanese about towing abilities.

Anthony Albanese erupted at claims from the Prime Minister he 'sided' with China following their security deal with the Solomon Islands

Anthony Albanese erupted at claims from the Prime Minister he ‘sided’ with China following their security deal with the Solomon Islands

HOW CAMPAIGNS REACTED TO THE DEBATE 

Both campaigns were happy with how the debate unfolded, commentators noting neither side had landed a killer blow.

Sources in Mr Morrison’s camp believe debates such as this are more difficult for incumbent leaders.

Mr Albanese’s camp believed he put in a strong performance and may finally be able to turn the page on his gaffe where he failed to name the unemployment rate and RBA cash rate on the first full day of campaigning. 

‘On EVs, the PM said during the 2019 campaign that EVs would ”end the weekend”,’ Mr Albanese said.

‘They said that they couldn’t tow your trailer, couldn’t tow your boat – it was all nonsense. We will reduce the taxes of electric vehicles.’ 

Electric vehicles can tow boats and caravans but it reduces the vehicle’s range in half, meaning they can’t travel very far. 

The debate got off to a fiery start with the first audience member asking each leader what they would do to help Aussies get into the housing market.

The Labor leader took the opportunity to bring up a remark made earlier by Mr Morrison who told those struggling to afford rent to consider buying a house.

‘I know that it’s so tough now. Some of the measures the government have done are terrific but we’re missing out on bits too. We’re not doing anything on social ownership, which would increase supply,’ Mr Albanese said.

‘We also need to address the rental crisis. Rents are going through the roofs. Scott said if you’re having difficulties with rent, buy a house.

‘The truth is, it’s much more difficult than that, and we need to address each of the issues. How do we get people into home ownership? How do we address affordable housing?’  

Anthony Albanese has made the first jab during the election debate against Scott Morrison when discussing Australia's skyrocketing housing prices

Anthony Albanese has made the first jab during the election debate against Scott Morrison when discussing Australia’s skyrocketing housing prices

The pair then became caught in a heated debate over turning back boats, leaving Mr Albanese stumped.

Mr Albanese said he supported turnbacks before Mr Morrison noted when he was Deputy Prime Minister in 2013 that wasn’t the case.

‘Why is it Scott you’re always looking for a division, not looking for an agreement?’ Mr Albanese fired.

Mr Morrison responded cooly: ‘I’m just looking for the accuracy and the truth.’

Mr Morrison said he hoped the debate in Brisbane would be ‘civil’. 

‘I’ve said right from the outset of this campaign this election is about a choice (and) tonight, I’m talking about our plans, what we’ve been doing,’ he told reporters in Adelaide earlier on Wednesday.

Both leaders have come out swinging in the first election debate on Wednesday night

Both leaders have come out swinging in the first election debate on Wednesday night

LEADERS’ CLOSING REMARKS 

Scott Morrison:

This election is a choice and these processes are important to help people make their choice. But fundamentally, I really believe this election is all about the economy that you, and your family, and your communities will live in for the next 10 years.

It will determine your economic opportunities, your job, your wages, all of these things and services can Australia can afford to deliver the essential services that you rely on.

It all starts with managing a strong economy. Our government has proven that with a strong economic plan that has been delivering unemployment falling to 4% ,a triple A credit rating, the biggest budget turnaround seen in 70 years, the future – we’re heading in the right direction.

Now is not the time to turn back. So I thank you for your question and I look forward to the opportunities Australia has, as we seize them, with the economic plan that we know is working, and will continue to work for you and your family, and the essential services you rely on.​

 Anthony Albanese:

I think the problem for this government is that they have been in office for almost a decade. They are shooting for a second decade in office and they haven’t shown any plan … about how you actually grow wages. How you have an economy that works for people, not the other way around.

I want an economy that sees wages being lifted. I want people to enjoy a higher standard of living. I want us to aspire and to be as optimistic as as we should be as a country.

I have two simple philosophies. One is that no one is left behind. That is, the Labor Party will always look after the disadvantaged. That’s why we do things.

We’re the party of opportunity. We’re the party that understands that if we’re going to advance as an economy, then we need to have stronger education. And we see the economy is growing. The opportunity there is there to use clean energy to drive high value manufacturing to drive growth through the economy.

If I’m prime minister, I’ll accept responsibility each and every day. I’ll work hard, and I’ll accept responsibility, and not always seek to blame someone else.

‘I’m optimistic about the future for Australia … so tonight, I look forward to that discussion. I hope it will be a civil discussion.’

Both leaders offered very different opening statements before the questions began.

‘After everything we’ve been through over the last few years, I’m incredibly optimistic about Australia’s future,’ Mr Morrison said.

‘Our economy today is one of the strongest in the first world. This election is a choice. It’s a choice about how we keep our economy strong. A stronger future, and an uncertain one.’

Scott Morrison (left) and Anthony Albanese (right) will go head to head in their first debate on Wednesday night

Scott Morrison (left) and Anthony Albanese (right) will go head to head in their first debate on Wednesday night

Meanwhile the Opposition leader said he planned to create a better future for Australians if his government was elected. 

‘I believe we can have a better future if we have a better government,’ Mr Albanese said. 

‘You all know the cost of everything is going up, expect your wages.

‘So we need a plan. We need to make sure we have a strong economy with secure work.

‘The government’s been in office for a decade. The truth is, they haven’t learnt from their mistakes. We must do better.’  

More to come 

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