Anthony Albanese loses cool on live TV as ABC star confronts him with the question on many Aussies’ minds
Anthony Albanese lost his temper with ABC’s Sarah Ferguson in a tense encounter on the 7.30 show, where he was grilled on the Phase Three tax cuts broken promise and the failed Voice referendum.
The prime minister was frustrated, emotional, occasionally raising his voice and saying ‘Australians can trust me’ on Tuesday night as Ferguson asked him a series of tough questions.
Scott Morrison’s coalition government passed the Phase Three tax cuts through parliament in 2019 and Mr Albanese has repeatedly promised no changes will be made.
He has since reworked the original plans, halving the benefit for Australians earning more than $180,000 in favor of a boost for lower earners.
“If circumstances change, are you willing to break other promises you’ve made,” Ferguson asked.
He explained that global factors such as the war in Ukraine and rising interest rates influenced his decision.
“What you can’t do when you know you’re going in the wrong direction is just stubbornly stay on the same path,” he said. “So, it was a really big call, but it was absolutely the right call.”
Ferguson replied: ‘But I’m asking you about your perspective on other promises you might make.’
Mr Albanese rattled off a list of positive things the government has done, including cheaper childcare and reform of the elderly, but dodged her original question.
Ferguson interrupted and said ‘The public heard that list. Now you’ve done something you said you wouldn’t do.’
The visibly frustrated prime minister retorted: ‘We explained why. We explained the extraordinary circumstances that existed. We did not come to this decision easily.
‘I went to the National Press Club. We went through the proper processes, ERC (Expenditure Review Committee), cabinet, ministry and a full caucus meeting to make sure everyone knew exactly what we were proposing and why we were proposing it.’
Anthony Albanese lost his temper with ABC’s Sarah Ferguson (pictured) in a tense encounter on the 7.30 show, where he was grilled on the broken Phase Three promise of tax cuts
But Ferguson persisted, saying: “So when you said on January 15 that the government’s position had not changed, that was just a reflection of the facts on that day, not to let you look at changes then do not have.”
Mr Albanese tried to deflect, saying he was ‘pretty good in December. I said we are looking at ways in which cost of living pressures can be alleviated’.
The 7.30 host didn’t miss it, putting it to the Prime Minister that ‘You never mentioned any of the tax cuts until you announced them.’
“Well, that’s when we changed our position,” he replied.
‘This is a quote from you on January 15th. At that stage on that day, it is an honest answer to the question that the government’s position has not changed,’ Fergson pressed.
‘Well, we didn’t change our position until the cabinet did. I run a proper cabinet government where ministers are encouraged to be in charge of their portfolios,’ said the Prime Minister.
Ferguson then raised the issue of confidence after the government hit back at tax cuts.
“(Government) has to be built on … trust,” she said. “We’re talking about you changing in changed circumstances, so I want to ask you to go back and reflect on that question.
“What does that mean about other commitments you have made or may make,” Ferguson asked, questioning the prime minister’s confidence.
“Well, what I’ve done, Sarah, is tick off the commitments I’ve made, one by one, in a diligent way. On this (tax) issue I have changed my position,’ replied Mr Albanese.
“I’m not saying, ‘Well, it’s the same amount of tax cuts, so we’re just tinkering, we’re saying this is a change of heart on what we said we would do and this is why we’re doing it.’
“Australians can trust me to be prepared to have the strength to make the right decisions that are needed.”
Ferguson also accused the Prime Minister of not tackling bracket creep (where inflation squeezes incomes in higher tax brackets but no increase in real purchasing power).
“You’ve gotten into a situation where your tax cuts are revenue neutral, but you haven’t addressed the issue of bracket creep,” she said.
However, Mr Albanese strongly denied this, saying ‘No, we have engaged in bracket creep.
The Prime Minister (pictured) was frustrated, emotional, occasionally raising his voice and saying ‘Australians can trust me’
‘Bracket creep does not mean you have a fixed tax rate. (The Labor changes are) a better address to bracket creep than the original Phase Three proposals which help people at the very high end.
“Each politician will still get $4,500 (in tax savings),” he pointed out.
The Prime Minister also took the opportunity to blast the opposition over its mixed response to Labour’s plan – initially saying they would oppose it and then saying they would support it.
He said the coalition’s initial dismissal of ‘doubling the tax break for people on average wages shows just how out of touch they are with the people who were the heroes of the pandemic.
‘The cleaners, the teachers, the lorry drivers, the elderly carers, the childcare workers, the people who have kept us going and who will do this is to benefit them and every dollar will make a difference.’
Ferguson also pressed Mr Albanese on the failed Voice referendum, which he and the government strongly supported and advocated.
She asked if, with the overwhelmingly positive reception the Phase Three tax cut backlash had from voters, that meant he now had his ‘mojo back’.
Anthony Albanese (pictured with partner Jodie Haydon) said he ‘never lost his mojo’
“I never lost it, Sarah,” he replied.
“That’s not what the polls said,” she countered.
The Prime Minister defended his record, saying: ‘We haven’t lost a news poll since I was Prime Minister…
‘We were disappointed about the Vote result. We accepted the result, but it was a disappointment because it is something that I firmly believe would have been in the interest of reconciliation,’ he said.