Joanita Wibowo

The hilarious reason Leigh Sales and ScoMo's interview overtook Twitter

The hilarious reason Leigh Sales and ScoMo's interview overtook Twitter

Leigh Sales’ heated 7.30 interview with Prime Minister Scott Morrison has taken Twitter by storm, but not for the reasons you expected.

Sales grilled Prime Minister Scott Morrison on the 2019 Budget in a heated interview on ABC’s 7.30 Wednesday, with the journalist at one point questioning whether the Coalition government has failed to deliver on its promises.

However, what seemed to have caught the viewers’ attention more was the crooked painting behind Morrison.

The shoddily placed picture became the top trending topic of Australian news on Twitter, with people demanding someone straighten it.

“The picture is crooked and that's all I will be able to focus on,” one viewer wrote.

“Can Leigh Sales ask The PM to straighten the picture behind him?” another commented.

In the Wednesday evening interview, Sales quizzed the prime minister on the Coalition’s economic performance since it got elected in 2013.

“When we look at your record of six years in office, you've had deficits every year you've been in power,” said Sales.

“Net debt when you were elected was 13.1 per cent of GDP and today it's grown to 18.5 per cent, and Labor's spending during its term was on average just under 25 per cent of GDP. Yours is just over 25 per cent of GDP.

“Therefore, on your own yard stick, haven't you failed to deliver what you promised?”

Morrison said he disagreed with Sales’ “rather negative view of our performance”, claiming that the Government had taxes and spending under control and people off welfare payments and into employment.

He added that the Coalition is also “bridging out on the first budget surplus” in 12 years, before Sales interjected by saying that the surplus is “projected” and the country’s finances would not be in the black until next year.

Sales went on to ask about the Energy Assistance Payment program, which will see eligible Australians getting a one-off payment of $75-$125 to help meet the cost of their power bills.

“Isn't it a sign of policy failure of this government that you're giving people a one-off payment to help with expenses, rather than at this point in the life of your government being able to say, look, we've put in place policies during the past six years that have … consistently driven down your power bills?”

Morrison said the program was announced because the Government was in a good position to make such spending. “The reason we're in a position to do that is because of our success over the last 12 months to bring the budget in around $10 billion better than I said it would be when I had handed down that budget just under a year ago,” he said.

He also admitted that the decision to expand the $125 handouts to Newstart recipients was a “pragmatic” one. Those on Newstart allowance were previously excluded from the payments – a policy that turned out to be controversial, with Liberal MP Arthur Sinodinos revealing that he was “not sure exactly what the rationale” was behind the rule on Monday’s Q&A.

On Wednesday, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg announced that he, Morrison and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann agreed to extend the payments. “What changed your mind?” asked Sales.

“Now, we're in a minority parliament; we're in a minority government situation,” said Morrison.

“And there was a gathering support for that payment to be extended more broadly to other welfare recipients, and I believed it was the pragmatic thing and the right thing to do, not to have some sort of political stoush in the parliament.”

During Question Time in parliament on Wednesday, Opposition leader Bill Shorten said the sudden extension was a sign that the Budget “has already fallen apart”.

“This morning, less than 24 hours after delivering the Budget, the government caved into Labor pressure and backflipped on energy payments for thousands of vulnerable Australians, blowing an $80 million black hole in the Budget,” said Shorten.

“Doesn’t this just confirm, after six years of cuts and chaos, this Budget is nothing but a con that has already fallen apart?”

Morrison responded by slamming Labor’s climate change policies with a Borat impression. Under Labor’s proposed policy, companies that pollute above a designated level would be required to buy carbon credits from other businesses, including farmers and landholders.

“The Labor Party wants $36 billion to go to foreign carbon traders,” said Morrison. “In Kazakhstan, I am sure they are pleased about this. They are thrilled about this. Some may call this is a carbon tax. I call it the Borat tax, with carbon credits for Kazakhstan.

“I know what Borat would think of the Labor Party’s thoughts on carbon trading policies. Very nice, very niiiiiiice!”