Australia will have an extra 1.25 million jobs in five years and no government debt in a decade if the coalition remains in power, the prime minister has promised.
The pledge comes as Scott Morrison ramps up his attack on the opposition’s economic credentials, while Labor leader Bill Shorten accuses him of running a fear campaign.
A Newspoll also published today in The Australian showed the Coalition had improved its polling numbers since the last survey was published in December.
The Coalition’s two-party preferred vote is now at 47 per cent but if the numbers hold, it means Labor’s vote of 53 per cent will still give it the party’s biggest win since Bob Hawke’s in 1983.
Both leaders now seem to be in election mode with Mr Morrison revealing new jobs and debt targets to be achieved through the next stage of an economic plan.
In a speech in Brisbane, the leader lauded the economic record of his “jobs government” and stressed the benefits of a strong economy to voters.
“At this next election only half of those of voting age will have experienced a recession during their working lives,” he said.
“So it is important to remind all of us that our economy cannot be taken for granted, that the economy is real, its impacts are real and, most importantly, it’s all about people.”
The prime minister also argued a Labor government would produce a weaker economy.
“It’s taken us all of the past five years to get back to the strong position that the Howard Government left us, more than 10 years ago, when Labor took over,” he said.
“Our Budget in April will be the first surplus budget delivered since the Howard Government.”
He said the result had also been achieved without increasing taxes but by getting spending under control.
“Our government has achieved greater spending restraint than any government, Liberal or Labor, in the last 50 years, with real spending growth less than 2 per cent.
“Under our plan we’ve managed to keep our AAA credit rating — after it was put at risk by Labor’s reckless policy of spending money they never had.”
Today @ScottMorrisonMP claimed that Labor put Australia’s AAA credit rating at risk during the GFC
Australia earned 3 x AAA credit ratings for the first time ever in 2011 after the GFC and under Labor
That AAA credit rating went onto “negative watch” under the LNP
— Simon Banks (@SimonBanksHB) January 28, 2019
But Mr Morrison has stopped short of suggesting Labor would cause a recession, as cabinet colleague Christopher Pyne did in November.
He also rejected suggestions he was running a scare campaign.
“It’s a fact. They are going to put $200 billion in new and higher taxes on the Australian economy and they boast about it,” Mr Morrison told ABC’s AM ahead of the speech.
Mr Shorten says fear-mongering is exactly what is going on.
“They’ve run out of anything to say about themselves, all they can do is talk about us,” he told reporters in regional NSW.
In his address, the prime minister pointed to the creation of 1.1 million jobs since the coalition won government in 2013 and a current low unemployment rate of five per cent. He pledged to help create another 1.25 million positions over the next five years and eliminate government debt within a decade.
Labor has repeatedly highlighted that government debt has doubled in the past five years but Mr Morrison says that is because the coalition still had deficits to deal with.
“We no longer, for the first time this year and this budget, will have a deficit. That means you can start paying down debt,” he told Seven’s Sunrise.
The coalition’s jobs and debt targets would be achieved through key pillars of the coalition’s economic plan, including a strong budget, lower taxes, support for small business and reliable and affordable energy.