Unable to name the exact cash rate, he noted that the RBA had announced rate hikes.
“Over the coming period, the Reserve Bank has said there will be multiple interest rate increases regardless of government,” he said.
Albanese addressed his gaffe again in a lengthy interview with Sky News when asked by Andrew Clennell how the misstep happened.
“You can find a whole range of reasons. There are a lot of numbers around,” he said. “Of course the average unemployment rate under this government is 5.7 [per cent]. Under us it was 5.1.
Clennell then said he “didn’t want to get melodramatic” but asked, “is this the day you lost the election?”
“You are melodramatic, Andrew. People make mistakes,” Albanese replied.
Campaigning in the marginal seat of Gilmore on the NSW south coast, Morrison seized on the misstep.
When asked to quote the two figures, he replied “0.1% is the spot rate, it’s been there for a while”.
“The unemployment rate, I’m happy to tell you, is 4% and has fallen to its lowest level in 50 years.”
Labor Treasury spokesman Jim Chalmers came to Albanese defense and education spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek downplayed him on the ABC.
“Elections are not memory tests,” she said. “These are tests of leadership.”
Former Prime Minister John Howard was in Perth to launch the campaigns of Swan candidate Kristy McSweeney and Hasluck MP and Indigenous Affairs Minister Ken Wyatt when asked if it was bad that Albanese didn’t know the rate unemployment in the country.
He replied in disbelief, “Is this a serious question?
“Anthony Albanese didn’t know unemployment, okay, so what?” Howard said.
Howard himself was asked what the unemployment rate was and he replied that there was a “3” in front of him.
Wyatt then intervened and said he was coming down.
The federal campaign turned negative from day one, with Albanese telling voters he didn’t try to snatch the premiership by stabbing a colleague in the back, as he tries to make money election a referendum on the character of Morrison.
Morrison also honed his lines of attack against Labour, directly targeting Albanese as someone “no one really knows what he is talking about, what he stands for or what his plans are”.
“Anthony Albanese has spent the last three years fighting me as I fought the pandemic and stood up for Australia. Just dragging a prime minister around for three years is not a candidacy for the job,” said Morrison on Nine’s Todayhow of Nowra, in the marginal NSW seat of Gilmore.
Campaigning in Launceston in the marginal seat of Bass, Albanese used a question about values and whether Australian voters knew enough about him to determine his suitability to attack Morrison’s path to the premiership.
“Nobody knew who Scott Morrison was when he became prime minister, when he overthrew a sitting prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull. I’m not going in that direction. I’m not stabbing somebody in the back to become Prime Minister,” Albanese said on Today.
The two leaders did a media blitz on breakfast television and radio on Monday morning to kick off the six-week campaign, before meeting and greeting voters in the marginal seats.
The cost of living is becoming a major political theme, amid stagnant wage growth and expected interest rate hikes that are expected to put pressure on homeowners later this year.
Morrison sought to argue the Coalition’s sound financial management, saying Australia had emerged from the pandemic in a strong economic position.
Jacqueline Maley cuts through the noise of the federal election campaign with news, opinion and expert analysis. Sign up for our Australia Votes 2022 newsletter here.