Prime Minister Scott Morrison accidentally knocked over a child after misstepping while playing soccer during a visit to a local football club in Devonport, Tasmania.
The club at the center of Mr Morrison’s latest gaffe broke its silence about the incident late on Wednesday, saying its values ”are determination, effort and respect.”
“We think Luca showed plenty of determination and effort to stop the PM scoring at all costs !,” the Devonport Strikers said in a Facebook post.
“The latest star of the election is OK and looking forward to being the star of the show at school tomorrow!”
Commenting on the post, Mr Morrison thanked the young boy for “being a good sport”.
The prime minister had joined in a training game on Wednesday afternoon during a campaign stop with the young footballers when he lost his balance tumbling into one of the players, Luca Fauvette.
“A bit of a rugby tackle,” he said as he helped Luca up.
Mr Morrison then asked Luca – who was quick to recover – if he was “all good” and gave him a high five before he continued playing.
Mr Morrison arrived in the Tasmanian electorate of Braddon, currently held by the Liberals on a 3.1 per cent margin, on Wednesday afternoon.
Prime Minister rejects call for a stronger anti-corruption model
Mr Morrison had earlier rebuffed calls from an alliance of 31 former judges making a public plea for a stronger anti-corruption watchdog to be “urgently” adopted by whoever wins the election.
Mr Morrison said the group was “entitled” to its opinion, but has continued to stand by his government’s proposed model for a commonwealth integrity commission.
In an open letter, the judges stressed the need for an integrity body to be backed by all sides of politics that holds public hearings and responds to credible public complaints.
But Mr Morrison said the judges’ intervention in the election row over adopting an integrity commission would not change his government’s plan.
“They are entitled to their opinion – it’s a free country, I’m happy for them to make their contribution,” Mr Morrison told reporters in Geelong on Wednesday.
“But what I do know is that we have a policy of 347 pages with extensive powers, which is part of our program to ensure that we can put an integrity commission in place.”
Calls for an anti-corruption commission have become a much-publicized election flashpoint, with so-called teal independent candidates campaigning on integrity concerns and Labor also calling for a tougher watchdog to be implemented.
Mr Morrison has proposed a commonwealth integrity commission that could hold public hearings for inquiries into police or public officials but not politicians.
It would also not allow the agency to launch its own investigations into tips provided by the public.
Mr Morrison has also previously labeled the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) a “kangaroo court” claiming that the body had destroyed people’s reputations and careers before “it’s even made a finding”.
In November he said former NSW Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian was “done over by a bad process”.
The term “kangaroo court” is often used to describe an ad hoc court that has limited power and does not follow normal legal procedures.
NSW ICAC commissioner Stephen Rushton responded by labeling
The open letter does not reference these comments directly but does strongly reject political criticism of state-based anti-corruption commissions.
Former Federal Court Judge Michael Barker QC said a national integrity commission with “broad jurisdiction, strong powers and public hearings was needed to” restore trust in our democratic system “.
“Without it, corruption will flourish,” he said in a separate statement.
“We are calling on all political leaders to act with urgency to reinstate integrity and accountability to our political system.”
Judges to sign the letter include those who have represented the High Court, Federal Court, Supreme Court as well as state-based courts of appeal.
It has been collated by the Center for Public Integrity – an independent think tank made up of legal experts and retired judges focused on reform in this area.
The open letter also notes the government enters into “contracts and makes grants worth hundreds of billions each year” in citing the need for an integrity watchdog.
It warns without a strong integrity model Australians are at risk of being exposed to a “corrupt exercise of power” saying existing federal integrity agencies lack the necessary power to keep this in check.
Mr Morrison first announced plans for a commission in December 2018, but legislation was not introduced to parliament for a vote with the government citing disagreement with parliament over the scope the body should have to investigate.
The government is currently proposing a commission with two divisions – one for public officials and one for politicians.
It says this would hold greater investigative powers than a royal commission, including the power to compel witnesses to testify, search premises and require people to surrender documents.
The Opposition has promised to implement a national integrity commission by Christmas, if elected to government.
Labor’s proposed model would have public hearings, act on tips from whistleblowers and the public and examine alleged misconduct from as far back as 15 years.
Anthony Albanese addresses the National Press Club
The Opposition leader spoke at the National Press Club in Canberra on Wednesday, spruiking Labor’s policies and criticizing the Coalition’s.
“Scott Morrison started his campaign saying you did not have to like him, but at least you knew who he was,” Anthony Albanese said.
“Five weeks later, he’s saying he can pretend to be someone else if it will make you like him.
Opposition leader Anthony Albanese holds up a one dollar coin during his speech to the National Press Club on Day 38 of the 2022 federal election campaign in Canberra, 18 May 2022. Source: AAP / LUKAS COCH / AAPIMAGE
“Labor is offering Australians a chance to change the country for the better. He’s promising to change his personality. He’s been ‘the devil you know’. He’s been a bulldozer. He told us he’s a car. Just not an electric one – obviously . “
Mr Albanese also attacked the Coalition over wage growth, with the latest figures released on Wednesday morning showing it was not keeping pace with inflation and the growing cost of living.
“With the real-world consequences felt by hardworking Australians, like today’s news, that real wages have gone backwards yet again. A fall of 2.7 per cent. What a hit,” he said.
“This delivers the biggest cut to real wages in more than 20 years. Under Scott Morrison, real wages are plummeting while the cost of living is skyrocketing.”
Mr Albanese said Australian workers were paying the price for “a decade of bad policy and economic failures”.
“If you needed any more proof that Scott Morrison is determined to learn nothing from the last three years, you only need to look at what he said in the last week,” he added.
“Now, he started off the week by arguing that the workers who carried our economy through the pandemic – they went out to work, they risk their own health to serve others for $ 20.33 an hour – what did he say? They could not afford one extra dollar an hour.One dollar an hour.
“He believes they should get a real wage cut. And remember this – the government said that low wages were a key feature of their economic architecture. It’s not bad luck. It’s bad policies that are leading to a decline in real wages and a decline in people’s living standards. “
Mr Albanese said the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted both the strength and vulnerabilities of Australia’s community.
The Labor leader pointed to insecure work, childcare costs, skills and training systems, the digital divide, pressures on the health systems and healthcare workers, aged care, and risks to business and industry from Australia’s position at the end of global supply chains.
“These problems are not new. Most are the inevitable end result of a decade of cuts, mismanagement, neglect, and a government that’s just focused on itself,” he said.
Mr Albanese was also quizzed over his plans for Australia’s relationship with China.
“China has changed its position under [President] Xi … I think that the will remain a challenging one regardless of who wins the election, “he said.
“But I’ll tell you what I will do if I have the great honor of leading this country. I will cherish the relationships that I build, including reacquainting myself with [US] President Biden next week if we’re successful. What we’ve seen is a whole series of Australia’s international relations being damaged. “
AEC warns some regional polling places may not open on election day due to staff shortages
The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) has admitted some polling stations in regional and remote parts of South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland could be closed on election day due to worker shortages.
The AEC said towns and communities in the federal electorates of Capricornia, Flynn, Kennedy and Leichhardt in Queensland, Barker and Gray in South Australia and Durack and O’Connor in Western Australia could be impacted by shortages.
First Nations campaign director at advocacy group GetUp, Amy Gordon, said the closures would be tantamount to voter suppression, with the affected electorates having some of the highest rates of Indigenous voters in the country.
“What it boils down to is really voter suppression,” the Goreng Goreng woman told NITV News.
“Failure to have remote polling booths open for election day means that thousands of Blackfullas and people up in these electorates will not have their say on the election.”
The AEC said voters in a number of areas are being urged to check if their voting centers will be open as there are fears workers could lead to their closure.
“While the impact will likely be limited, and limited to certain areas, voters in identified regional locations who have not accessed an early voting center, or postal vote, may not have a polling venue in their town on election day,” electoral commissioner Tom Rogers said.
“Current labor shortages in regional areas have been well documented. No frontline service has been immune to resourcing difficulties and we’re running the nation’s biggest in-person, manual event.”
Indigenous enrollment is already estimated to be lower than the general population, with 79 per cent of eligible First Nations people enrolled to vote, compared to 96 per cent of the eligible general population.
One in four eligible Australians have already voted
The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) says 4.36 million Australians have already voted in the federal election, according to its latest pre-poll data.
As of Tuesday night, 3,212,029 pre-poll votes and 1,154,601 postal votes had been received.
There are 17,228,900 Australians enrolled to vote.