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Anthony Albanese has stumbled over details of one of his party’s major policies before an adviser handed him notes in the middle of a press conference.
The Opposition Leader – who on the first day of the campaign came under fire for not knowing the unemployment figure and official cash rate – faced a barrage of questions in Sydney on Thursday over Labor’s National Disability Insurance Scheme policy.
Instead of providing a clear answer about the six parts of the plan, Mr Albanese stuttered, saying what Labor would do “was outlined by Bill Shorten”.
“But Mr Albanese, what are the six points?” he was asked.
He stuttered again before responding: “We will put people at the centre of the NDIS”.
Journalists threw further questions about it, including “what is the policy?” and “do you not know what it is?” which he dodged until towards the end of the press conference.
After being handed the policy on a piece of paper by an adviser, he looked down at his notes and detailed the six points.
Another journalist went on to call him out for bringing in shadow ministers.
“We find it often in the last week or so in the campaign that when you are stumbling on an answer, for example, you bring in your shadow ministers or you refer to them immediately. Is that part of the strategy in order to not see the sort of gaffes we saw on day one, or the gaffe we’ve seen today where you don’t know your own policy?” Sky News journalist Trudy McIntosh asked.
Mr Albanese immediately hit back, responding: “That’s not right”.
“I’m captain of a team. I’m proud of the team that we have,” he said.
Scott Morrison wouldn’t rule out making future cuts to NDIS funding when asked about the matter earlier on Thursday.
The Prime Minister avoided directly answering whether he would rule out cuts to aged care, health care and the NDIS if the Coalition is re-elected to government.
Pressed on whether he would commit to fully funding the NDIS given it is on a projected pathway to costing an annual $60bn per year by the end of the decade, Mr Morrison said: “We always run our programs responsibly”.
Earlier, Mr Albanese hit back at “nonsense” criticism from Today Show host Allison Langdon who accused him of not knowing key details and slammed him for handballing questions to his shadow ministers.
Mr Albanese went on to accuse Langdon of reading straight from Liberal Party notes in an attempt to deflect the criticism.
Langdon opened the bruising interview by asking: “Do you think the Australian people think you’re up to it?”
“I ask that question because I’ve noticed on several occasions you hand over economic questions to someone else,” she continued, listing examples of times Mr Albanese deflected to shadow ministers like Jim Chalmers, Jason Clare and Tony Burke.
“Why don’t you know the answers?” she went on to ask.
Mr Albanese hit back, saying: “I do, Ally. I’m here … No one to hand over to”
“This is one of the most bizarre things I’ve seen,” he said.
Langdon said that unlike Mr Albanese, Prime Minister Scott Morrison doesn’t “hand over to anyone during the campaign”.
Mr Albanese responded by taking aim at the “internal chaos and division” of the Liberal party.
“You do continually, except Scott Morrison can’t appear with Josh Frydenberg because Josh Frydenberg doesn’t want to be in the same frame as him, because the voters of Kooyong regard Scott Morrison as toxic,” Mr Albanese said.
Langdon kept pressing, saying: “The question is, though, you want to be the next Prime Minister. You want to run the country – shouldn’t you be across your briefs?”
Mr Albanese slammed Langdon’s “absurdity”.
“Stop reading from the Liberal Party notes that they send through to people all of the time, Ally,” he said.
“This is just an absurdity. I do (know the answers).”
Langdon pushed again: “I think your problem is that after the stumble week one when you didn’t know the cash rate or unemployment rate, any time you do defer it suggests you don’t know”.
“That’s nonsense Ally,” Mr Albanese responded.
“Your viewers are smarter than that, and your viewers know that I lead a team. I am the captain. I’m proud of my team.
“None of mine are in witness protection. The Prime Minister can’t even say who his Education Minister is.”
Mr Albanese was referring to Alan Tudge, who Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed would be reinstated to Education Minister should the coalition win the next election and if he was up to it.
Mr Tudge stood aside from the frontbench after allegations he had abused his former staffer Rachelle Miller, who he was engaged in an extramarital affair with.
Mr Tudge denies the allegations.
Stuart Robert, the Acting Education Minister, had earlier revealed on ABC News he “doesn’t know” where Mr Tudge is.
“I tend not to keep track of my colleagues’ whereabouts,” Mr Robert said.
Langdon’s co-host Karl Stefanovic seemingly enjoyed the back-and-forth with the Opposition Leader.
He said it was “like UFC” and “magnificent” viewing.
- by Ellen Ransley, news.com.au