Prime Minister Scott Morrison has delivered a stinging sledge against Bill Shorten — and warned that everyday Australians would be $200 billion worse off under a Labor government.
Speaking at the Australian Financial Review’s business summit this morning, Mr Morrison said the economic policies of both major parties were more dramatically different than they had been in 40 years.
As he made the case for re-election at the looming federal election, he argued that it was the “truth” that the country’s economy would be weakened if Labor won power, hinting at a return to 90s-era recession.
“Between 1960 and 1991 the Australian economy had six recessions — since 1991 it has had 27 years of uninterrupted economic growth. That’s an extraordinary national achievement and it’s arguably our most significant national achievement,” he told the audience.
“I’m saying the economy will be weaker under Labor — that’s exactly what I’m saying.
“They’re going to put $200 billion worth of taxes and take Australia’s industrial relations system back to the times when we had recessions in this country.”
But he stopped short of actually predicting a recession under a Shorten government, saying instead that “history would show” whether that would come to pass.
When asked if he was being “alarmist”, Mr Morrison simply replied: “I think it’s the truth.”
Mr Morrison said Australians would be facing a “very stark choice” at the election and urged voters to consider what an alternative government would mean for the economy for the next decade.
He said the 2019 election would have a “profound impact” on the economy.
“Labor can do a lot of damage in only one term,” he argued.
He boasted of the Coalition’s economic track record — including maintaining Australia’s triple-A credit rating, record low unemployment and high female participation, the creation of more than 1.2 million jobs since 2013 and the lowest rate of welfare dependency in three decades.
“We are faced with the most important election in decades — there’s a big choice to make that will have an impact for the next 10 years,” he said.
“I haven’t seen so much hubris from an Opposition — they think they’re already there and they can’t wait to get their hands on the power so they can wield it against their list of enemies — and on that list are retirees, small and family businesses, those with investment properties … they’re the real targets.
“A Shorten Labor government would not be a slightly more progressive version of the Coalition government. It would be an economic leap in the dark.”
The prime minister also warned of the ALP’s penchant for raising taxes — and delivered a brutal sledge at the Opposition leader’s expense.
“The answer to every question for Labor is higher taxes — anything they want to do, they hit you up for more. You end up paying every time you see Bill Shorten’s lips move,” he said.
However, according to Fairfax, that $200 billion figure touted by Mr Morrison is a government estimate of revenue raised over 10 years via Labor’s plans, including both new policies — such as proposed changed to negative gearing and capital gains tax — as well as Labor’s plan to scrap Coalition tax cuts that haven’t come into effect yet.
Mr Shorten will have his chance to refute Mr Morrison’s claims when he fronts the summit tomorrow morning.
According to the latest Newspoll, the Coalition is trailing behind Labor 47 to 53 per cent on a two-party preferred basis.
It was the third survey in a row which saw Labor come out on top, with the election tipped to be held in May.