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All smirk and smear, no substance: Albanese's post-debate shot at PM

Politics

Anthony Albanese has lashed out at the prime minister’s leaders’ debate performance as nothing but smirk and smears, as pre-poll voting gets under way across the country.

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While the second leaders’ debate was declared a draw following a shouty contest, both sides have sought to claim victory from the showdown.

Speaking in Sydney on Monday while launching Labor’s policy to boost the number of high-performance teachers, the opposition leader said Scott Morrison failed to bring anything to the table during the debate.

“Scott Morrison didn’t have anything to say except shouting, he only had smears and that smirk throughout it all,” he told reporters.

“Last night I put forward ideas … I ask you to think about what were the policy measures that Scott Morrison said he would do in his fourth term if he’s elected. If he is given three more years, we can’t afford three more years of the same.”

Monday marked the start of early voting ahead of the election on May 21, with 550 pre-poll locations opened across the country.

It comes as two new polls released overnight saw Labor extend its lead over the coalition.

The newest Newspoll showed Labor up 54-46 on two-party preferred, while an Ipsos poll had Labor ahead 52-40, with eight per cent undecided.

While a hung parliament remains a large possibility following the election, Mr Albanese said Labor was looking to govern in its own right.

“I will be working every day for 76 (lower house seats),” he said.

“We should have 150 Labor members in the House of Representatives, that is my starting point. I think we will fall short of that, but my objective is 76.”

Viewers of the Nine Network debate aired on Sunday night were evenly split 50-50 between the men vying for the nation’s top job.

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said a lot of voters, up to 20 per cent, were still to make up their minds.

“We need to get calm, start talking about the policies that we have for Australia moving forward and reflect on what we’ve achieved,” he told Nine Network.

While the debate was declared a draw, Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said people should not read too much into it.

“A lot of it gets raided and people storm in and party operatives storm in, so I don’t take much notice of it,” he told the Seven Network.

The prime minister, who started day 29 of the election campaign from Sydney, unveiled an $8 billion plan to upgrade the army and navy’s helicopter fleet as well as improve facilities used to house the aircraft.

Despite not being able to guarantee a lift to real wages at Sunday’s debate, Mr Albanese said he remained confident about working alongside businesses and unions to improve working conditions.

“The truth is we have had flatlining wages over 10 years. The key to lifting wages is lifting productivity,” he said.

“Our clear objective is to lift up living standards … (the prime minister) couldn’t even say that Australian workers should be paid the minimum wage.”

A third and final debate is scheduled for Wednesday on the Seven Network.

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