Press Conference – Sydney – Monday 11 April 2022


SUBJECTS: Leadership; federal election. 
JASON CLARE, CAMPAIGN SPOKESPERSON: Leadership is about taking responsibility. And that’s what we saw from Albo today. He made a mistake, he owned it and he took responsibility for it. You never see Scott Morrison do that. Scott Morrison never takes responsibility for the things that he says or does that go wrong. He’s always blaming somebody else always tends to say that it’s not his job. You know that to be true because you see it all the time. When the bushfires hit, remember what he said, ‘it’s not my job’, he said, he said, ‘I don’t hold a hose’. 
The same thing happened when the COVID pandemic hit. Remember, he said that our vaccination purchases put us at the front of the queue. That was patently false and it was proven to be a lie when the rest of the world was being vaccinated and Australians were still locked down waiting for vaccines to arrive. Scott Morrison never admitted that was a mistake. Never admitted that that was a lie. And it’s the same when he said that it’s not a race. Australians repeatedly heard Scott Morrison say that the vaccine rollout wasn’t a race. And when he was asked why he said it, he said he wasn’t talking about the vaccine rollout. He was talking about the approval process. All that was a lie. He was talking about the vaccine rollout. But he’s never admitted that that was a mistake.
And it’s the same thing happening again today. Today on morning television, Scott Morrison was asked about a half a million dollar payment to a former government staffer, and his response was, ‘Well, it’s not my job to know about this.’ A half a million dollar payment to a former government staffer, and he says ‘it’s not my job to know about this’. Well, that’s not right. It is his job to know about it. He’s the Prime Minister of Australia. This is a Cabinet Minister in his Government. This is a former government staffer, and this is half a million dollars of your money that’s been paid in compensation, and Scott Morrison says it’s not his job to know about it.

There is a pattern of behaviour here that we have seen over the years, of Scott Morrison refusing to take responsibility for anything that he says or does, or anything that goes wrong in his government, and blaming other people, and just blatantly saying it’s not his job to fix these things. Yesterday, Scott Morrison said that he was upfront with the Australian people. It’s day one of this election campaign and Scott Morrison is already trying to cover things up. Happy to take some questions.
JOURNALIST: Have you been sent down here today to clean up the mess made by Anthony Albanese?
CLARE: Look, what you saw today was a leader of this country being honest. Australians haven’t seen the leader of their country be honest in a long, long time. Anthony made a mistake. He owned up to it and took responsibility for it. I think that’s what Aussies want to see in their leader and in the leader of this country.
JOURNALIST: How can Australians have any confidence in Labor managing the economy when the Opposition Leader didn’t know the cash rate and unemployment rate?
CLARE: Look, he made a mistake, took responsibility for it. Let’s focus on what’s important here. Politics is not a pop quiz. Leadership is not a pop quiz. This is not a game between the government or the opposition and the media. What’s important here is that leaders understand the problems that Australians are facing and have solutions to fix them. Let me give you a couple of other numbers. For average Australians out there, that are driving around in the average car, they’re paying 1000 bucks more this year than last year, to fill up the car and take the kids to school, take the kids to soccer, to get to work. A thousand bucks, that’s real money affecting people’s daily lives. For the average family with kids at childcare, it’s $800 more this year than it was last year. And if you’re renting, if you’re one of the more than two million Australians who are renting at the moment, you’re paying on average $2000 more this year than last year. $2000 more in petrol, $800 more in childcare, $2000 more in rent. It all adds up. They’re the numbers that people are worried about right across Australia.
JOURNALIST: I understand politics isn’t a pop quiz. But Labor is the party that says we will increase wage growth, increase people’s wages. How can you do that though if the Opposition Leader doesn’t know the unemployment rate or the cash rate?
CLARE: This, this argument that this government are great economic managers is a bad joke. Debt is higher under this government than it was under us, unemployment was lower on average under the last Labor government than it is under this government. Economic growth was higher on average under the last Labor government than it is under this government. Remember this government’s record when it comes to economic management. They paid $30 million for a block of land in Western Sydney that was worth $3 million. They’ve spent $5.5 billion dollars on submarines that don’t exist. They’ve spent $20 billion of taxpayer’s money on helping out companies that made a profit during the pandemic, like Harvey Norman. They’ve spent $50 billion of taxpayer’s money on a copper NBN. They bought enough copper to wrap around the world one and a half times, they promised the NBN would cost half of what it’s costing now. So, we’re not going to take lectures from the government when it comes to economic management.
JOURNALIST: How embarrassing is it for you or your colleagues for this to happen on the first day of the campaign, though?
CLARE: What I think this reveal is we have a good and honest leader who’s leading an experienced and united team. Now compare and contrast that to Scott Morrison, who never takes responsibility for anything, always blames other people, and always says that it’s never his job. A leader who is running an old government. This is a government that’s now almost a decade old. They’re asking for another decade in power. If they manage to crawl across the line at this election, they’ll be in power for longer than John Howard’s government. I think most Australians would agree this government doesn’t hold a candle to John Howard’s government. And worse than that, I think what angers Australians almost more than anything else is when you see a government which is not focused on them, but more interested in fighting amongst themselves. And that is what you have with this government almost every single day. Another story, another leak. Another example of another Liberal or National Party Member of Parliament coming out and attacking the Prime Minister.
JOURNALIST: Have you or any of your colleagues spoken to Anthony Albanese directly, has he apologised or is it true he said that he effed up and it won’t happen again?
CLARE: Have a look at what Anthony said this afternoon. He fronted up to the media. He said he made a mistake, and he owned it. I really do think that’s what Aussies want to see in a leader. A bit of honesty. We haven’t had an honest Prime Minister in this country for a long time. We will have one in Anthony Albanese, if he wins the support of the Australian people in six weeks time.

JOURNALIST: So, did he own up and honest apologise to you guys as well, directly?
CLARE: I haven’t spoken to Albo today. I’ve seen him on TV. He’s owning the mistake. That’s what Aussies do. Aussies are fair dinkum people. We don’t get everything right. But I’ll tell you what, when you make a mistake, you say sorry, I stuffed up. I’ll fix it. That’s what Albo did today. Thanks very much.