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The two candidates for Australia’s next prime minister were grilled on cost-of-living issues, corruption and rising inflation at a second leaders’ debate less than two weeks from a national vote to be held on May 21.
During the debate, held in Sydney on Sunday night, the conversation often deteriorated into a yelling match between Prime Minister Scott Morrison and opposition Labor leader Anthony Albanese, with each accusing the other of being unsuitable to lead Australia after the election.
Morrison was pressed on criticism over his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. When quizzed by Albanese on his comments in 2021 that the vaccination program “was not a race,” the prime minister said he was wrong to use those words.
“It was a race,” Morrison said on Sunday night. “And we shouldn’t have described it in those terms.”
Meanwhile, Albanese faced questions over his party’s previous support of a closer relationship with Beijing and a number of gaffes in the early weeks of his campaign. Both leaders argued over who would be more likely to establish a national anti-corruption commission, with Morrison claiming he had never seen corruption in his own party.
The center-right Liberal National coalition is campaigning for a rare fourth term of office off the back of a strong economy and record-low unemployment. But the government has struggled to make up ground against the Labor opposition, who have led in opinion surveys since the beginning of the campaign in April.
With a rising number of voters turning to minor parties, there is also a possibility that neither leader will win a majority of seats in the 151-seat parliament, forcing Australia into a minority government.
New polling by Ipsos released shortly before the debate began showed the Labor opposition pulling further ahead of the Liberal National coalition, expanding their lead to 57% ahead of the government’s 43%. Albanese maintained his lead over Morrison as the preferred prime minister in the Ipsos poll.
Diego Maradona’s “Hand of God” shirt has been sold for a record-shattering £7,142,500 after a two-week auction that saw the price almost double in the final nine minutes.
Despite the late Argentina icon’s own daughter having disputed its authenticity, the jersey fetched more than £3m over the £4m reserve price, making it easily the most expensive item of sports kit ever sold.
The Number 10 shirt, worn when Maradona scored twice in his country’s famous 1986 World Cup quarter-final win over England, was auctioned by Sotheby’s and attracted only one bid until 3.51pm on Wednesday.
The announcement of the auction had prompted Maradona’s eldest daughter, Dalma, to claim the shirt was actually the top her father wore during the goalless first half of the match in Mexico City.
She added that the prized “second-half” jersey Maradona made history in was in the hands of a mystery owner she declined to name.
Dalma, one of Maradona’s two daughters with his ex-wife Claudia Villafañe, made the claims on her Argentine radio show and said her father had changed shirts at half-time because of the high temperatures in the stadium.
Sotheby’s rejected the claims, however, adding it had hired an expert outside firm to photomatch the shirt being auctioned, which had found “multiple conclusive matches” to the one Maradona was wearing when he scored his two second-half goals.
A spokeswoman said: “There was indeed a different shirt worn by Maradona in the first half but there are clear differences between that and what was worn during the goals.”
Maradona’s controversial “Hand of God” goal in the 51st minute was followed by a second four minutes later which is widely considered to be the greatest ever in which he dribbled past several England players before slotting the ball past Peter Shilton.
The shirt Maradona wore was not an official one, but a knock-off bought at the last minute on a Mexican backstreet, as Argentina manager Carlos Bilardo was desperate to replace strips his players found too heavy for the Mexican summer heat.
Maradona had the last word choosing the strips which only had numbers and badges sewn on the day before the England game, after which the Argentine forward swapped his shirt with midfielder Steve Hodge.
Hodge, who for the past 20 years has loaned the shirt to England’s National Football Museum in Manchester, has said of the moment he acquired Maradona’s iconic shirt: “I was walking down the tunnel and Maradona was coming in the opposite direction. I just tugged my shirt and we swapped there and then.”
According to Guinness World Records, Pele’s Brazil shirt from the 1970 World Cup final was previously the most expensive football shirt sold at auction.
It fetched £157,750 in 2002, more than three times the expected price.