Treasurer Scott Morrison has labelled Bill Shorten the leader of a new “red” Labor party, and accused the opposition of “economic time travel” by leading the most left-wing labour movement Australia has seen in generations.
In a speech that will lay out the government’s economic agenda, Mr Morrison will on Thursday warn against the economics of opportunity being overwhelmed by “the new romantics of protectionism,” and compare Mr Shorten to British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and US senator Bernie Sanders.
The Treasurer’s Bloomberg Address comes a week after Finance Minister Mathias Cormann accused a Shorten-led Labor party of “socialist revisionism” that would lead to a “success exodus.”
The speech forms part of a broader Coalition strategy that paints a doomsday scenario of Australia with Mr Shorten at the helm.
Mr Morrison will accuse the Labor leader of “offering false promises” to voters who have been caught in the economy’s transition since the global financial crisis by “rebirthing failed left-wing economic policies”.
The Treasurer will tell the Sydney audience his mantra of “better days ahead” is not wishful thinking, despite persistently low wage growth dogging otherwise positive economic news.
The Australian dollar surged close to US80?? on Wednesday after the first blocks of next week’s gross domestic product figures – building approvals and construction data – exceeded economists’ expectations.
“As we move into spring, we can continue to take confidence that a brighter picture is emerging within our economy,” Mr Morrison will say.
“Having been frustrated by a post-GFC funk that has held back global economic growth, the Australian economy is shaking off the restraints. What has this meant for Australian households? The answer is simple: more jobs.”
The economy added more than 1000 full-time jobs a day over the past six months, Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show, and has had its strongest period of full-time job creation in 40 years, but more than 1.1 million Australians remain underemployed.
The economy has also struggled through anaemic wage growth of 1.9 per cent over the year, with the record low placing mounting pressure on household budgets by barely keeping pace with the cost of living.
Mr Morrison will point to international opportunities, including an Olympics-fuelled boom in Japan, a surging Chinese tourism market and free trade agreements with the North Asian economic powers as ways to help secure Australia’s economic future beyond 27 consecutive years of economic growth.
“You give businesses incentive to expand and innovate and Australians directly benefit from the tangible opportunity created,” he will say.
The Treasurer will argue the economics of opportunity are not an “ideology or theory as those on the left like to claim” and warn Labor policies will drive successful Australians away.
“It is what has made Australia a prosperous country and will continue to do so, so long as we do not allow this commonsense approach to be overwhelmed by the rebirthing of failed left-wing economic policies.”
Labor announced a plan to restrict the use of trusts for tax minimisation in July, on top of a commitment to raise the top marginal tax rate to 49.5 per cent, if it wins office. It has also vowed to cut tax benefits for negative gearing and capital gains tax, but is yet to commit to a position on tax cuts for businesses with a turnover up to $50 million.
Mr Morrison will warn of “the real forces” of Mr Shorten’s new “red” Labor, and his international counterparts Mr Corbyn and Senator Sanders.
“We cannot allow the economics of opportunity to be overwhelmed by the new romantics of protectionism who pretend we can engage in some type of economic time travel.”
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