Prime Minister Scott Morrison has brushed off scathing comments calling him a "buffoon" for describing NSW's integrity watchdog as a "kangaroo court", as he doubles down on his attacks on the agency.
Mr Morrison also turned up the heat on banks at a press conference on Wednesday, saying they should pass on interest rate rises on term deposits after self-funded retirees had done it tough in the pandemic.
The election row over a federal integrity commission has erupted again in the campaign after Mr Morrison was quoted in newspapers warning a body modelled on the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption would bring a "public autocracy" to Australia.
Asked in Adelaide about comments earlier this week from NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption Commissioner Stephen Rushton saying anyone who described the agency as a "kangaroo court" was a "buffoon", Mr Morrison said he was not offended.
"He can say whatever he likes, I'm not easily offended. I think you've learned that about me. I'm quite resilient, when it comes to those. He's free to disagree with me if he wishes. I just don't think that their model is the right model at a federal level," Mr Morrison told reporters.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese on Wednesday said "we never get answers" from Mr Morrison despite three years wracked by "scandal after scandal".
He said the Prime Minister's "extraordinary attack" on the NSW ICAC was unlike anything he had seen from any leader across the aisle.
"What he means is: the reason why there is no national anti corruption commission is sitting all in his front bench and behind him," he said.
"This Prime Minister just dismisses any integrity issues. What is very clear is that if Australians want a national anti-corruption commission and to clean up politics, they need a Labor government."
Mr Albanese gave NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet "absolute credit" for rebuking Mr Morrison over the comments.
Earlier, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, backed away from the Prime Minister's "kangaroo court" label, but repeated criticisms of the NSW model for an ICAC.
"I would use different words," he said.
"We'll all use our own words to explain our own positions. What I can tell you is that I support a commonwealth integrity commission. We have a model to doing so.
"I think that the ICAC has produced results where good people have left office without convictions being made and without, you know, huge amounts of evidence."
Labor's treasury spokesman, Jim Chalmers, said Mr Morrison's warning that a NSW ICAC model would bring an "autocracy" limiting elected officials in making decisions appeared to spell the end of a federal ICAC if the Coalition is elected.
"It's like that song True Colours. His true colours are emerging, now he's pretended for three years to care about a national anti-corruption commission," Dr Chalmers said.
"But this is what he really thinks and he's been lying about wanting a national anti-corruption commission this whole time. The only way to get one is to support Labor at the election on the 21st of May."
Mr Morrison is reported as warning a NSW-style ICAC would hand power to "faceless" officials and disempower elected representatives.
The Prime Minister has repeatedly criticised the NSW ICAC, labelling its public hearings a "kangaroo court" and saying it had wrongly delved into matters such as former NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian's romantic life.
Ms Berejiklian resigned last year after the NSW ICAC revealed it was investigating whether she breached public trust when she awarded grants to several community organisations in Wagga Wagga between 2012 and 2018.
The NSW ICAC is investigating whether there was a conflict between Ms Berejiklian's public duties and private interests when she was in a relationship with former Wagga Wagga MP Daryl Maguire.
Mr Rushton on Monday defended the agency, saying references to the ICAC as a "kangaroo court" weren't just misleading but were also untrue, and that people who made those comments were "buffoons".
Mr Morrison on Wednesday also put pressure on banks following the Reserve Bank decision to raise the cash rate, saying they should also respond by lifting interest rates on term deposits.
"Banks have always been very quick to pass on higher interest rates to mortgage holders. They should be just as quick to ensure those changes pass on to deposit holders like those who were here with today. And I think it's only fair," he said.
"Self-funded retirees have been doing things tough. They've been pushing through this pandemic like so many others have. And my message to the banks is to give them a fair go."
Mr Morrison has announced a freeze on deeming rates for aged pensioners as another "shield" against rising cost-of-living pressures.
Journalists asked a number of questions on other recent spot fires overshadowed by the RBA's announcement.
The Prime Minister was questioned on his views on abortion, his suggestion Solomon Islands leader Manasseh Sogavare was influenced by the Chinese Community Party, and where Alan Tudge was during the election period.
Mr Morrison, a usually resolute performer in press conferences, faced interjections he was unable to avoid.
He said it was a "free country" when asked why Coalition senators attended an anti-abortion rally earlier this week.
The Prime Minister also said he looked forward to speaking with Mr Sogavare but said he hadn't spoken to him during the election period.
He also said Mr Tudge would rejoin his front bench if the MP so chose after the election.
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