The Australian Prime Minister has been condemned for facing away from Opposition leader Anthony Albanese during Labor’s Budget reply on Thursday night.
Also read: Albanese pitches major child care overhaul
Also read: Federal Budget 2020: What it means for you
Albanese delivered an alternative Budget pitch on Thursday, placing affordable childcare and renewable energy at the heart of Labor’s plan to deliver Australia from recession.
However, Australians including prominent barrister Julian Burnside condemned the Government’s behaviour during Albanese’s speech, sharing photos of frontbenchers apparently on their phones and looking away, including Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
“Interesting to watch the Budget reply speech. Albanese was making some really worthwhile points. But PM Scott Morrison sat, apparently ignoring it all, and apparently working on his mobile phone,” Burnside said.
“Scott Morrison is a disgrace.”
Interesting to watch the Budget reply speech. Albanese was making some really worthwhile points.
But PM Scott Morrison sat, apparently ignoring it all, and apparently working on his mobile phone. @ScottMorrisonMP is a disgrace
— Julian Burnside (@JulianBurnside) October 8, 2020
However, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg was spared from criticism, with political commentator and author Jamila Rizvi describing him as “all eyes and ears”.
“Politics aside, with big speeches like the Budget and Budget reply, I like seeing politicians listen to each other. Basic old fashioned principles of respect. Frydenberg is all eyes and ears on Albo but most of the frontbench (including the PM) are on their phones,” she said.
Politics aside, with big speeches like the budget and budget reply, I like seeing politicians listen to each other. Basic old fashioned principles of respect. Frydenberg is all eyes and ears on Albo but most of the frontbench (including the PM) are on their phones. #budgetreply
— Jamila Rizvi (@JamilaRizvi) October 8, 2020
Other Australians began weighing in, describing it as “so disrespectful” and “disgraceful”.
Scott Morrison is on his phone texting as Albanese speaks.
Now three ministers behind him are.
It wouldn't be allowed in schools.
Why is the head of government so disrespectful?@ScottMorrisonMP
— Jules Hooper (@jules_hooper) October 8, 2020
Scott Morrisons attitude while the Opposition leader was delivering his reply to the budget was a disgrace. It is not the behavior you would expect to see from a PM. It is disrespectful to the Opp/Leader & the Parliament. Standards have dropped since Scott Morrison became PM!
— David Nestor (@david_nestor2) October 8, 2020
Labor phrase under magnifying glass
However, Albanese also didn’t escape criticism, with his and Labor’s use of the term, “The Morrison recession”, facing scrutiny.
Commentator Steve Price questioned whether it was “clever, smart or accurate”, while political biographer and writer Troy Bramston dubbed it “cringeworthy” and “treating voters like mugs”.
Do Anthony Albanese and Labour seriously think labelling the recession the Morrison recession is clever smart or accurate ...ever heard of Covid ?
— Steve Price (@StevePriceMedia) October 7, 2020
The phrase “the Morrison recession” is one of the most inane, intellectually dishonest and politically stupid I have ever heard. It is cringeworthy. It treats voters like mugs. Labor needs to get serious about critiquing the Coalition - this doesn’t work. #auspol #BudgetReply
— Troy Bramston (@TroyBramston) October 8, 2020
The ABC’s Leigh Sales also queried whether Australians would buy that the recession is down to the Prime Minister’s economic mismanagement.
Responding to her questioning, AlphaBeta economist and former economic adviser to Kevin Rudd Andrew Charlton said it’s unlikely anyone would blame Morrison for the recession.
“I think the point that Anthony Albanese is seeking to make is that the recovery is something that Scott Morrison is responsible for,” he said.
“So he's not responsible for creating the recession, but he is responsible for how long that recession is and what kind of recovery we have and that is Labor's job, to watch that recovery and make sure that the best policies are put in place.”
The Budget and Budget reply come as Australia battles its first recession in 30 years and a pandemic with no clear end in sight.
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