John Howard has changed his opinion about Anthony Albanese’s blunder after the Labor leader was unable to answer two straightforward economic questions posed by reporters.
Mr Albanese was asked what Australia’s unemployment rate and Reserve Bank cash rate were – both of which he couldn’t answer – during a press conferences held on the first full day of the election campaign on Monday.
John Howard surprisingly defended Mr Albanese’s blunder when he was asked about it by reporters yesterday.
‘Is that a serious question?’ the former Prime Minister asked.
‘Okay, well Anthony Albanese didn’t know the unemployment rate. So what?’
Mr Albanese (pictured) was asked what Australia’s unemployment rate and Reserve Bank cash rate were – both of which he couldn’t answer – during a press conferences held on the first full day of the election campaign on Monday
However, less than 24 hours later Mr Howard had changed his view about the opposition leader’s gaffe at the West Australian’s Leadership Matters breakfast at Crown Perth on Tuesday, believing the Labor leader should’ve known the answer to both questions.
‘He should have known that figure, let’s not muck about,’ he said during a Q&A session at the event.
‘Anybody who wants to be Prime Minister should be on top of that.’
Howard attended the event as he took part in the Liberals’ pre-election campaigning in the state.
Mr Albanese’s fumble over the cash rate was reminiscent of John Howard’s false answer when he was also asked about the same subject during an interview on A Current Affair leading up to the 2007 election.
While being interviewed, the former Prime Minister was asked the reserve bank’s official rate.
Mr Howard incorrectly answered: ‘It’s 6.25 per cent’, while his Labor rival Kevin Rudd answered the question correctly the same night.
John Howard changed his view on Anthony Albanese’s blunder. He initially dismissed the gaffe before stating at the Leadership Matters breakfast at Crown Perth the following day that Mr Albanese ‘should have known that figure’
Mr Albanese’s fumble over the cash rate was reminiscent of John Howard’s incorrect answer when he was also asked about the same subject during an interview on A Current Affair leading up to the 2007 election
Ten News political reporter Stela Todorovic, who twice asked Mr Albanese to name the cash rate, denied her straightforward question had been a ‘gotcha’ moment.
‘The cash rate hasn’t changed since 2020 and for someone who is campaigning to be the alternative Prime Minister, I feel like Anthony Albanese should have had this on a cheat card in his notes,’ Ms Todorovic told The Project on Monday night.
‘You could say it was a gotcha moment, but it wasn’t intended to be.
‘At the end of the day when the interest rate hikes up in June, that will affect millions and millions of Australians, so I’m pretty sure that a lot of them would like to know that the Prime Minister of the country, if that’s Anthony Albanese, Scott Morrison or whoever else, has these answers and he certainly isn’t the first leader of a political party to not get these figures right.’
Ms Todorovic admitted there had been some lingering shock among those at the press conference but said to his credit the Labor leader had ‘bounced back’.
‘If he does get asked these questions or similar questions, he will have learnt from today and maybe have the answers right up his sleeve,’ she said.
Ten News political reporter Stela Todorovic, who twice asked Mr Albanese to name the cash rate (pictured), denied her ‘straightforward’ question had been a ‘gotcha’ moment
In an effort to prove to voters he was willing to take responsibility for his mistakes, the opposition leader fronted reporters again to make amends for the error (pictured)
Journalists quizzed the Labor leader on the figures in a press conference in the marginal seat of Bass in northern Tasmania, a day after the election was called.
The cash rate has been at a historic low of 0.1 per cent since November 2020 while the unemployment rate is four per cent, the lowest since 2008.
Shadow Finance Minister Katy Gallagher was able to answer both questions correctly.
Coalition campaign spokesman Simon Birmingham immediately seized on the blunder.
He said: ‘If you don’t know what the interest rate is, you can’t be trusted to put the right policies in place to keep them low.
‘If you don’t know what the unemployment rate is, you can’t be trusted to keep Australians in jobs.’
In an effort to prove to voters he was willing to take responsibility for his mistakes, the opposition leader fronted reporters again to make amends for the error.
‘I’m human. But when I make a mistake, I will fess up to it and I will set about correcting that mistake,’ Mr Albanese said.
‘I won’t blame someone else, I will take responsibility.’