First leaders debate gets off to a fiery start as Anthony Albanese takes a swipe at PM over house prices: ‘Scott says just buy a house’ – before a tense clash over boat turn-backs

  • Both leaders are facing off in Sky News’ People’s Forum on Wednesday night
  • Mr Albanese took a swipe at Morrison over his comments on housing prices
  • Mr Morrison earlier suggested those struggling to afford rent should buy a house
  • Morrison also caught out Albanese when he said he supported boat turnbacks 

Anthony Albanese has opened the first election debate by taking a swipe against Scott Morrison when discussing Australia’s skyrocketing housing prices.

One hundred undecided voters will fire off questions to both leaders in Sky News and The Courier Mail’s People’s Forum on Wednesday night.

The debate kicked off with a question on what each leader would do to help Aussies get into the housing market.

The Labor leader took the opportunity to bring up a remark made earlier by Mr Morrison who told those struggling to afford rent to consider buying a house.

Anthony Albanese has made the first jab during the election debate against Scott Morrison when discussing Australia’s skyrocketing housing prices

‘I know that it’s so tough now. Some of the measures the government have done are terrific but we’re missing out on bits too. We’re not doing anything on social ownership, which would increase supply,’ Mr Albanese said.

‘We also need to address the rental crisis. Rents are going through the roofs. Scott said if you’re having difficulties with rent, buy a house.

‘The truth is, it’s much more difficult than that, and we need to address each of the issues. How do we get people into home ownership? How do we address affordable housing?’ 

The pair then became caught in a heated debate over turning back boats, leaving Mr Albanese stumped.

Mr Albanese said he supported turnbacks before Mr Morrison noted when he was Deputy Prime Minister in 2013 that wasn’t the case.

Both leaders have come out swinging in the first election debate on Wednesday night

Both leaders have come out swinging in the first election debate on Wednesday night

‘Why is it Scott you’re always looking for a division, not looking for an agreement?’ Mr Albanese fired.

Mr Morrison responded cooly: ‘I’m just looking for the accuracy and the truth.’

Mr Morrison said he hoped the debate in Brisbane would be ‘civil’. 

‘I’ve said right from the outset of this campaign this election is about a choice (and) tonight, I’m talking about our plans, what we’ve been doing,’ he told reporters in Adelaide earlier on Wednesday.

‘I’m optimistic about the future for Australia … so tonight, I look forward to that discussion. I hope it will be a civil discussion.’

Both leaders offered very different opening statements before the questions began.

‘After everything we’ve been through over the last few years, I’m incredibly optimistic about Australia’s future,’ Mr Morrison said.

‘Our economy today is one of the strongest in the first world. This election is a choice. It’s a choice about how we keep our economy strong. A stronger future, and an uncertain one.’

Scott Morrison (left) and Anthony Albanese (right) will go head to head in their first debate on Wednesday night

Scott Morrison (left) and Anthony Albanese (right) will go head to head in their first debate on Wednesday night

Meanwhile the Opposition leader said he planned to create a better future for Australians if his government was elected. 

‘I believe we can have a better future if we have a better government,’ Mr Albanese said. 

‘You all know the cost of everything is going up, expect your wages.

‘So we need a plan. We need to make sure we have a strong economy with secure work.

‘The government’s been in office for a decade. The truth is, they haven’t learnt from their mistakes. We must do better.’ 

The debate will give Mr Albanese a chance to prove himself after a disastrous first week in which he made headlines for wrongly guessing the unemployment rate and later walking away from journalists’ questions after saying he wouldn’t.

With Labor’s primary vote slumping to 36 per cent in the latest Newspoll, another big stuff-up could be catastrophic.

Mr Albanese has been careful so far not to attack Mr Morrison. Instead, he’s been keen to project himself as a positive leader with a plan to improve living standards.

But tonight he will have the chance to criticise the PM’s shortcomings over bushfires, Covid and broken promises.   

More to come 

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