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Bordering on the ridiculous: Another Albo gaffe as Labor sprints to polling day

Politics

Anthony Albanese has marked the penultimate day of election campaigning with yet another blunder, wrongly claiming Australia’s international borders remain closed when answering a question on unemployment.

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The Labor leader made the claim during an interview with ABC Breakfast host Lisa Millar, who asked him if a good jobless rate could boost the Coalition’s chances at Saturday’s election.

“Our borders are closed, Lisa. Our borders are closed,” Albanese said.

“People are doing it tough. That’s having an impact on employment figures. We know that that’s the case. But we know as well that people are really doing it tough. And we want an economy that works for people, not people working for the economy.”

The nation’s borders reopened in November after nearly two years as Australia emerged from the Covid-19 pandemic.

It’s the latest in a series of gaffes made by Albanese during the campaign, adding fuel to the Coalition’s claims he is not across the detail of his party’s policies.

It came as Labor was set to reveal how its election promises would be funded, as the campaign heads into the final sprint and cost of living issues continue to dominate.

Labor has already flagged its promises will be partly funded by winding back $750 million in taxpayer-funded grants Labor links to “waste and rorts” under the Morrison government.

Asked if Labor would also scrap a temporary cut to the fuel excise – scheduled to end in September – Albanese said “we will” because an incoming government would inherit $1 trillion of commonwealth debt.

“We’re being very responsible fiscally during this campaign,” he told the Nine Network on Thursday.

“We’re making sure that the commitments that we’re making to expenditure in areas like child care, infrastructure … (are) things that will boost the economy, boost productivity because that’s what we need to do.”

Albanese also attacked the government over what he labelled a “real wage cut” suffered by workers after annual pay packets rose 2.4 per cent despite inflation surging to 5.1 per cent.

The Labor leader has given his absolute backing to an inflation-equivalent rise in the minimum wage, while the coalition says it will accept any increase decided by the Fair Work Commission.

Coalition campaign spokesman Simon Birmingham told Nine on Thursday there was “no magic wand that government can wave” to increase wages.

Labor’s costings will also feature plans to crack down on multinational companies not paying their fair share of tax, public sector efficiencies and fees for foreign investment screening.

New polling by RedBridge for the ACTU suggested almost 60 per cent of voters are dissatisfied with the Morrison government’s handling of cost of living pressures.

More than 80 per cent said wages should rise with the increasing cost of living, with more than half experiencing their income going backwards in real terms.

“Working people know that another three years of this (Morrison) government will mean three more years waiting for wage growth that will never come,” ACTU secretary Sally McManus said.

Opposition treasury spokesman Jim Chalmers said Labor’s plan would differ from the coalition in that all spending would be aimed at getting a “genuine economic dividend” from taxpayers’ money.

“The government has been sprung again and again and again, whether it’s $20 billion in JobKeeper for businesses that were already profitable and didn’t need it, whether it’s $5.5 billion for submarines that will never be built, or a billion dollars on political advertising funded by the taxpayer,” he said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison claims Labor has made $25 billion of commitments against $5 billion of savings.

“We’ve paid for our promises. The Labor party – who knows?”

Albanese and five of his senior shadow ministers will hit 20 marginal Liberal-held seats in the final two days of the campaign, kicking off in Sydney and Brisbane on Thursday.

“We are in the final sprint now. Australians have just a few more days to make a choice between more of the same with Mr Morrison, or a better future with Labor,” campaign spokesman Jason Clare said.

Averaging of opinion polls gives Labor a 54.3-45.7 per cent two-party preferred lead over the coalition, according to the Poll Bludger website.

Asked about the tightening in the polls, Morrison said: “The same thing happened this time three years ago. It’s almost identical … (but) I’m never presumptuous about these things.”

Six million people have either voted already or applied for a postal vote ahead of Saturday’s election.

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