ABC host grills housing minister: 'That's a bit rich isn't it?'

·Associate News Editor
·3-min read

ABC News Breakfast host Lisa Millar has suggested the Morrison government has no room to lecture Labor on expenditure when Australia's current debt sits at one trillion dollars.

Millar picked apart the Coalition's superannuation deposit scheme for first home buyers on Tuesday morning, grilling Housing Minister and Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar over the new policy announced just days from the election.

She said the move "ended up getting a lot more criticism than it did praise" and questioned whether it was merely a last-ditch effort to lure voters.

ABC Breakfast host Lisa Millar, left, interviewing Coalition housing minister Michael Sukkar, right. Source: ABC
Michael Sukkar was grilled by Lisa Millar on Tuesday morning. Source: ABC

But Mr Sukkar stressed the announcement was just the latest support the Coalition was offering first-home buyers over a number of years, and stressed young Australians would benefit from it.

"We know it works, if you support first home buyers they'll take it up, they'll work hard, they'll save and they'll be able to buy their first home. This takes that one step further," Mr Sukkar told Millar.

Critics of the pitch have said the policy would only increase house prices. On Tuesday Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said analysis showed that would not be the case.

Millar cuts off MP over accusations

Millar turned her attention to the Coalition's final policy costings set to be released on Tuesday, which are expected to show a $1 billion improvement to the forecast budget bottom line over the forward estimates.

But Millar took aim at the Coalition, who've repeatedly targeted Labor over spending despite the nation's "trillion dollars of debt" under the Morrison government.

She said both parties had not shown any attempts to start pulling back on that deficit.

Mr Sukkar said there was no sign of Labor's costings but Millar hit back, arguing Labor has put a costing to each of its policies as they've been released – a claim Mr Sukkar refuted.

"We're showing a modest improvement but it indicates there's a level of discipline that needs to be shown," he said.

"Labor's track record on budget management, we know is terrible," he said, arguing Labor didn't have the resolve to oversee such a change.

Federal Election 202
Federal Election 202

When he accused Labor of "tilling the soil for even more spending", Millar interjected.

"Well hang on, the Coalition government, you've got a trillion dollar debt and an $80 billion deficit, I mean that's a bit rich isn't it to be throwing those kinds of accusations?"

Millar moved the interview on before Mr Sukkar could respond.

Sukkar criticised online: 'Gibbering mess'

There was criticism of Mr Sukkar on Twitter, who was accused of being left "a gibbering mess" by Millar.

"Poor old Michael Sukkar is tying himself in knots trying to pump up his party and Lisa Millar has him at every turn," another said.

Millar has previously been accused of a partisan approach on the show, where critics have said she leans towards the Liberals.

That criticism continued on Tuesday after she interviewed Shadow Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong after Mr Sukkar, with Twitter users accusing her of a failed attempt at a 'gotcha' moment on costings.

Ms Wong said Labor's costings would be released on Thursday.

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