There’s more substantive stuff to cover from the Prime Minister’s appearance on 2GB but before we do that, Anthony Albanese has just endured a bit of a roasting from Today host Allison Langdon.
The pair got into an extended back-and-forth over Mr Albanese’s habit of deferring to his shadow ministers during press conferences. Langdon implied it showed the Labor leader wasn’t across the issues himself.
“I’ve noticed on several occasions you hand over economic questions to someone else,” she told him.
“That’s not right, Ally. I’m here, Ally. No one to hand over to,” Mr Albanese said.
“One of the great differences between myself and Scott Morrison is that I’ve got a great team, and I’m the captain. Scott Morrison’s got no one behind him. Scott Morrison’s got internal chaos and division in the Liberal Party.”
“Just this week, right, on Monday, you deflected a question about interest rates to Jim Chalmers and a question on wages to Tony Burke,” said Langdon.
(Side note: my rough transcript referred to the shadow treasurer as Gym Chalmers, which I found unreasonably funny.)
“Then on Tuesday it was a question about housing to Jason Clare. My question is, why don’t you know the answers?” she finished.
“I do, Ally. Jason Clare’s the (shadow) housing minister. This is one of the most bizarre things I’ve ever seen,” Mr Albanese protested.
“I’ve answered questions each and every day, including since I came out of Covid only last Friday, I have been up and about. Today I have another press conference. I’ll give you the big tip: Chris Bowen is going to be there. If there are any questions that he wants to answer and add detail on climate and energy, for which he is the shadow minister, then he may well have something to say.”
“The thing is, you say you have the answers, but I think people sitting at home go, ‘I’m not sure you do,'” said Langdom.
“No they don’t Ally,” he shot back.
“You don’t see Scott Morrison handing over to anyone during this campaign,” she told him.
“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,” said the Labor leader.
“Scott Morrison not only can’t appear with his education minister, he can’t even say who it is. He says that Alan Tudge is still the education minister, but he stepped aside. The truth is that he’s in witness protection, as are so many of these government ministers. This is a rabble, it’s a mess, Ally.”
Incidentally, as a rough observation, I’d say there is a genuine difference in how each leader utilises his frontbenchers during press conferences.
Scott Morrison typically answers a question himself and then defers to the minister to make additional comments. Mr Albanese also does that, but will sometimes stand aside and let his shadow minister address the question first.
Whether you want to draw any meaning from that is up to you.
“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?” Langdon pressed.
“I am Ally. I am. Stop reading from the Liberal Party notes that they send through to people all the time, Ally. This is just an absurdity,” said Mr Albanese.
“I think your problem is, after the stumble in week one when you didn’t know the cash rate or unemployment rate, any time you do defer, it suggests you don’t (know the answer),” she said.
“No Ally. That’s nonsense. 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,” he said.
“The Prime Minister can’t even say who the education minister is. You won’t see him anywhere near a school, anywhere near a TAFE, anywhere near a university.”
Spicy stuff. Langdon’s co-host, Karl Stefanovic, loved it.
“Boy oh boy. Magnificent. Good viewing! It was like UFC,” he remarked after the interview had ended.