Scott Morrison has revived warnings that Australia could be plunged into a recession under a Shorten government, prompting Labor to condemn the Prime Minister as “shrill, desperate and wrong”.
But Mr Morrison insists he stopped short of saying a recession would occur, despite sparking Labor Party anger that his comments were irresponsible.
The Prime Minister was asked in a question and answer session on Tuesday: “Are you actually saying we could go back into recession under Labor?”
Mr Morrison answered: “I’m saying the economy will be weaker under Labor.”
He added: “That’s exactly what I’m saying because they’re going to put $200 billion worth of taxes and take Australia’s industrial relations systems back to the times when we had recessions in this country and I’m being very clear to Australians.
“No use on the other side going ‘Oh I didn’t really realise that it would have that impact’. It will have that impact.”
— Wayne Swan (@SwannyQLD) March 4, 2019
Mr Morrison was then asked if this was an “alarmist” way for a Prime Minister to be talking about the economy.
“No, I think it’s the truth. I think it’s just being honest with Australians about what the impact is,” he replied.
Labor’s shadow treasurer Chris Bowen said the Prime Minister’s claim was “shrill, desperate, wrong, highly irresponsible”.
Speaking later at a press conference at Parliament House, Mr Morrison again implied he had stopped short of saying a Labor government would result in a recession.
“I have made this very clear on I don’t know how many occasions. The economy under Labor will be weaker than it is under our government,” he said.
“I can’t predict how bad things would get under Labor.
“What I do know is if you take $200 billion of higher taxes, punishing aspiration at every level, taking away the incentive of Australians to work hard and do better, that will have a sheet anchor affect on the Australian economy at a time when you can least afford it.”
He added: “This election is about aspiration which is what we want to encourage in Australians, and the negative forces of envy, which is what the Labor Party is relying on.
“We don’t believe that you have to hold some people down to lift other people up,” Mr Morrison said.
“The Labor Party believe they have to tax some people harder to give other people a go.”
In January, Liberal frontbencher Christopher Pyne raised the prospect of a recession under Labor after the Prime Minister said in a speech that many younger Australians “will have never experienced a recession in their working lives”.
“I don’t want them to learn how important a strong economy is to each and every single one of them by having them endure the cruel lessons of a weaker economy that would occur under the Labor Party,” Mr Morrison said in the speech.
However, Mr Morrison then denied he said a recession would follow if Bill Shorten became prime minister.
“I never said that,” he said.
It emerged this week that the Morrison government had no Treasury modelling to support the claim made in the Prime Minister’s speech that 1.25 million jobs will be created over the next five years.