‘Lacked grace!’ Scott Morrison blunder as PM ‘misunderstood’ question in electoral debate

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The Australian PM, 53, was asked to pay his competitor a compliment in the final question of Wednesday night’s Leaders Debate. Seven’s Mark Riley asked both leaders about “one redeeming feature” and something they “admire” about the other person.

Mr Riley asked: “Surely everybody has one redeeming feature. What is one strength, Mr Prime Minister, that you find in this gentleman that you admire, but also worries you?”

Mr Morrison kicked things off, and it was as awkward as viewers expected.

He said he admired how Mr Albanese had grown up in public housing and that he has “never forgotten where he came from”.

Mr Morrison said: “He has shown a great deal of determination over that period of time to rise from very humble beginnings. I admire that in Australians and I admire that in Anthony. That’s great.”

The Prime Minister also said Mr Albanese “should be commended” for rising to be the leader of one of the oldest parties in Australia.

But there was a “but”.

Mr Morrison continued: “That’s great. But you know, to do this job you need to know your stuff. You need to be across the detail.

“You need to not make things up on the run and you can’t be loose on the economy. Because too many Australian livelihoods depend on it.

“As much as I respect what he has been able to achieve, I just don’t believe that he has been able to demonstrate that he is able to get across the detail to do this job.”

Mr Riley branded Mr Morrison’s response a “compliment sandwich”, before turning to the Labor Leader for his response.

Mr Albanese swallowed his pride, too, telling the PM he admired that he was “absolutely committed to his nation”.

He also mentioned the government’s increased commitment to mental health.

Mr Albanese said: “We have seen increased funding for mental health but in particular increased funding for Headspace and those issues.

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“Mental health is something that when we were all a bit younger wasn’t spoken about. It’s a good thing it’s being spoken about, it’s a good thing the Prime Minister speaks about it as well.”

Mr Albanese then added that he “had no barbs” for the Prime Minister, to which Mr Morrison said that he “must have misunderstood the question”.

Meanwhile, Mr Albanese has been declared the winner of the final leaders’ debate of the election campaign after he and Scott Morrison put forward competing views on wage rises, economic management and energy policy.

With less than a fortnight until polling day, about 150 undecided voters determined Albanese the clear winner of the Channel Seven debate on Wednesday night.

The Labor leader convinced 50 percent of those who voted in the network’s “pub test” compared with 34 percent for Morrison and 16 percent who remained undecided.

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