Anthony Albanese has bizarrely claimed Australia’s borders are closed even though they have been open since February.
In an interview on ABC News Breakfast on Thursday morning, Mr Albanese claimed the closed border was helping to keep unemployment down to four per cent.
Host Lisa Millar asked him: ‘Two days before an election campaign, though, and an unemployment rate sitting so low will surely give the government a boost for their argument about how they run the economy?’
The Labor leader – who hopes to run the country after the election on Saturday – said: ‘Our borders are closed, Lisa. Our borders are closed. 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,’ he added.
‘We want an economy that works for people, not people working for the economy. That’s why we’ll take the pressure off the cost of living by offering cheaper child care, cheaper electricity prices’.
In fact Australia’s borders have been open to everyone who is double vaccinated – including tourists – since February.
In a press conference later in the morning, the Labor leader said he meant to say the borders were closed.
‘The borders were closed. The borders were closed,’ he said.
‘And I was asked a question about skills shortages, and one of things that business say is that they were impacted by the fact that the borders were closed.
‘And, indeed, people who were here on temporary visas were told to leave. That’s had an impact on our labour market.’
The strange moment came after Mr Albanese failed to state the unemployment rate or the cash rate in an embarrassing press conference on day one of the election campaign.
Liberal senator Simon Birmingham blasted Mr Albanese over the blunder.
‘Borders have been open for months yet he stared down the barrel of the camera a few moments ago and said that Australia’s borders are closed,’ he said.
‘Add that to the list of him not knowing the unemployment rate, not knowing the interest rates, not knowing his own disability policies.’
Albanese’s campaign gaffes
April 11: Wrongly guessed the unemployment rate was 5.4% and couldn’t state the Reserve Bank interest rate
April 12: Admitted he did not know who Human Rights Commissioner Lorraine Finlay was
April 13: Stormed out of a press conference after only 10 questions, two days after saying: ‘I’m not Scott Morrison, I don’t run away from press conferences’
May 5: Failed to outline his six-point plan for the NDIS until an advisor handed him a policy document to read from in a press conference
May 19: Bizarrely claimed Australia’s borders are closed when they have been open for three months
Mr Albanese has launched a last-minute marginal seat blitz during the final two days of the election campaign.
The opposition leader will start the day from Sydney, visiting the seat of Bennelong, before moving on to Brisbane.
Mr Albanese will then target coalition-held seats such as Longman, Dickson and Ryan in Queensland.
The Labor leader said he was not leaving anything to chance during the final 48 hours of campaigning.
‘Elections are always really tight,’ he told ABC TV on Thursday.
‘Later on, I will be in South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria over the next couple of days.’
The race across the country is part of a strategy to target 20 marginal Liberal-held seats.
Mr Albanese will be alongside five of his senior shadow ministers during the sprint to the finish, including deputy leader Richard Marles, shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers and education spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek.
Australia’s border has been open since February. Pictured: A passenger wearing a facemask after a Qantas flight
Labor will unveil its policy costings later on Thursday after days of speculation.
Mr Albanese outlined $750 million of budget savings during a speech to the National Press Club on Wednesday.
‘We have been transparent, every single one of our policies and commitments we have put out the costings over the forward estimates every single day,’ he told the Nine Network.
‘Our bottom line is absolutely responsible.’
With new unemployment data set to be announced later on Thursday, Mr Albanese said other economic figures have shown a rising cost of living.
It comes as new wage data revealed real wages rose 2.4 per cent in the past year, well down on the 5.1 per cent inflation level.
‘I welcome any drop in unemployment, we’ll wait and see what the figures show later today,’ Mr Albanese told the ABC.
‘The problem is that the government, they said their strategy around wages was all about employment… what we’re seeing is that wages aren’t rising.’
Australian Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese and shadow Home Affairs Minister Kristina Keneally on Wednesday