JIM CHALMERS MP
MEMBER FOR RANKIN
YOU CAN'T BELIEVE A WORD SCOTT MORRISON SAYS ABOUT THE ECONOMY
When most Australians think about the economy, they think about how everything is going up except their pay, and they know interest rate rises are about to be part of the pain.
They wonder whether the Morrison Government has anything to show for the trillion dollars in record debt that had already doubled before the pandemic.
So, if Scott Morrison wants his economic record to be a big part of the election campaign, we say bring it on.
Because even before now, after almost a decade in office, average economic growth, average wages growth, average unemployment, average productivity growth and average business investment have all been weaker and worse under the Liberals than under the last Labor Government.
That’s what this campaign should be about, not increasingly desperate lies and unhinged scare campaigns from Scott Morrison about tax, spending, debt and interest rates.
The facts make it clear that this Liberal Government has actually taxed more, borrowed more and spent more than the last Labor Government – but delivered less.
If they want to talk about tax, don’t forget that Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg are taxing more than the last Labor Government by every measure – in total, as a proportion of the economy, per person and adjusted for inflation.
This is the second highest taxing government of the past thirty years - the highest was John Howard’s.
Taxes have been higher every single year under the Liberal Government than what it inherited under Labor.
Tax as a proportion of the economy averaged 20.9 per cent under the last Labor Government, but that’s risen to 22.3 per cent under the Liberals.
The Morrison Government is collecting over $170 billion more in tax this year compared to the last Labor Government in 2013. That’s an additional $5275 tax for each Australian and $11,800 more tax for each household than the last Labor Government in 2013.
And there were billions of dollars in new tax measures in this year’s Budget.
So, with that scare campaign demolished, let’s talk about spending.
Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg spent $39 billion in the March Budget with no talk of offsets.
They committed to $70 billion in spending between the December update and the March Budget alone, without offsets.
They’ve wasted $5.5 billion on submarines that will never be built – more than twice the cost of our aged care plan.
They are spending $230 billion more this year compared to the last Labor Government in 2013.
Spending as a proportion of the economy averaged 24.9 per cent under the last Labor Government, but that’s risen to 26.5 per cent under the Liberals.
That brings us to debt and deficits.
After promising only surpluses, the Liberals have delivered more consecutive budget deficits than any government since the 1920s, most of them before the pandemic.
Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg have accrued $1 trillion in debt with not enough to show for it, with half the debt accumulated even before COVID, and they doubled the debt before the pandemic began.
So if the Morrison Government’s record is inferior to the last Labor Government when it comes to the economy, tax, spending, debt and deficits - what does that leave them with?
Another ridiculous scare campaign on interest rates flagged in Scott Morrison’s opening salvo of the campaign.
The Reserve Bank has made it clear that rates are going up soon, no matter who wins, and the Government should stop pretending otherwise.
The last time John Howard ran the same dishonest campaign, interest rates went up six times under him afterwards. And the highest interest rates we’ve had were more than 20 per cent under a Liberal Government in the early 1980s.
The difference between the Liberals and Labor on interest rates is that we have a plan to grow the economy into the future without adding unnecessarily to inflationary pressures in our economy.
We know this is also the best way to repair the Budget, as well as ending the waste and rorts - to ensure that money is better invested in more growth and more opportunities for more people.
Our commitments cost a fraction of what the Morrison Government has wasted.
Australians deserve better than the same old Liberal scare campaigns or an exclusive focus on a factual mistake Anthony Albanese has already taken responsibility for, and moved on from.
This election is about who can deliver a better future.
Scott Morrison’s lies are all about distracting from his failures on the Budget and the economy, and Australians will see through them just like they see through him.
Jim Chalmers is Federal Labor’s Shadow Treasurer
This opinion piece was published as ‘If PM wants the election fought on economy, bring it on’ in The Australian on Wednesday, 13 April 2022