Painting hijacks tense TV interview
Leigh Sales and Scott Morrison butted heads on ABC's 7.30 on Wednesday evening with the Prime Minister at one point saying he didn't even agree with the premise of one of the host's questions.
The interview was a key part of the Coalition's effort to sell Tuesday's Budget, ahead of the announcement of an election date which could occur as early as this weekend.
The ABC host began by rattling off a slew of statistics, all designed to suggest the Coalition's economic management wasn't as solid as Mr Morrison suggested.
"When we've look at your record of six years in office, you've had deficits every year you've been in power.
"When you were elected it was 13.1 per cent of GDP and today it's 18.5 per cent. Labor's spending during its term was on average just under 25 per cent of GDP, yours is just over 25 per cent.
"On your own yard stick, haven't you failed to deliver what you promised?" she asked.
"I wouldn't agree with your rather negative view," the Prime Minister replied, bristling at the question.
Rather, he said, the Government had spending under control, taxes under control, more people off welfare and into work. That had "restored the Budget" and led to a surplus, he added.
"Projected", interjected Sales, pointing out that the country's finances are not yet in the black, they are only forecast to be so next year.
"Budgets are done a year in advance and that's the first Budget surplus in 12 years," he shot back.
Sales moved onto the Government's controversial payments of $75 - $125 to those on benefits to help with energy bills.
"Isn't it a sign of policy failure that you're giving people a one-off payment to help with expenses, rather than being able to say, 'We've put in place policies that have driven down your medical bills, driven down your insurance premiums and your power bills?'"
"The reason we're in a position to do the (payments) is because of our success over the last 12 months to bring the Budget in $10 billion better than I expected it to be," replied the PM.
"It's a product of our Budget management that put ourselves in the position to be able to make this payment.
"That will be in people's hands before the end of the year.
Notably, those on Newstart allowance were excluded from the $125 handouts. On Monday's Q&A influential Liberal MP Arthur Sinodinos said he was perplexed why some welfare recipients were getting the payments but others were not.
But on Wednesday Treasurer Josh Frydenberg announced that the unemployed would, after all, get the wallet boost.
#abc730 So is the picture behind Scott Morrison crooked or is he leaning to the right?— Sally (@wooferunleashed) April 3, 2019
"What changed your mind?" asked Sales.
"We introduced pretty much the same measure and it applied to pension payments and they're permanent welfare support payments that go to a large number of people," said Mr Morrison. But Sales seemed to suspect some blathering was occurring.
"What changed your mind?" she repeated.
"Leigh, allow me to finish the answer to the question.
"There was a gathering support for that payment to be extended, more broadly to other welfare recipients.
"I believed it was the pragmatic thing and the right thing to do, not to have some sort of political stoush in the parliament."
A captain's call then, asked Sales?
Absolutely not, said the PM who insisted it was made in consultation with the Treasurer.
"Leigh, it was a practical call to ensure that people got the support that I was hoping I could provide to them."