Party leaders battle over wage rises
Scott Morrison and Anthony Albanese have gone head to head for the third and final time in a leaders' debate before polling day, trading barbs on wages growth and cost of living pressures.
The debate, hosted by Channel 7 on Wednesday night, was held with just nine days to go until the May 21 election and was notable for being more civil and less shouty than their previous encounter.
Mr Albanese said low wage workers, including cleaners and aged care employees were "heroes of the pandemic" and deserved "more than our thanks".
"I want a better future where we deal with the cost of living crisis where everything is going up except for people's wages," he said.
The opposition leader said a 5 per cent minimum wage increase amounted to "two cups of coffee a day".
Mr Morrison said he also backed a wage rise for all workers, but small businesses across the country would struggle with that increase in their wages bills "on top of all the other things they're facing".
"People won't be worrying about what their wages are, they will be worrying about whether they have a job," the prime minister said.
Mr Albanese highighted Labor's childcare policy costed at $5.4 billion, noting that was less than the government had wasted on the torn-up French submarine contract.
"This is the most wasteful government in Australia's history. Waste and reports is something that has characterised this government because it treats taxpayers' money like its Liberal Party money," he said.
Both leaders were asked about the shift towards independents and micro parties among voters, and what they thought was driving it.
Mr Albanese said there was a great deal of disillusionment with major parties, with people fed up with revolving doors of leadership and corrupt practices seen in recent times, highlighting the need for a national anti-corruption commission.
Mr Morrison said the last three years had been "incredibly tough", and that had affected people's views of politics but a vote for independents would be a vote to weaken parliament and weaken Australia.
Mr Morrison was asked to justify his criticism of his opponent when he labelled him the "most dangerous leader since Gough Whitlam".
He said Mr Albanese "has been very loose" on economic policy and "makes things up as he goes along".
In response, Mr Albanese slammed the prime minister over his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic and natural disasters.
When asked what trait they admired in each other, Mr Morrison said it was Mr Albanese's rise from "humble beginnings" to become the leader of the Labor Party.
Mr Albanese said the prime minister was committed to the nation and had invested in mental health.
The results of a vote by people watching the debate across Australia was a win for Mr Albanese with 50 per cent supporting him while Mr Morrison claimed 34 per cent.
© AAP 2022