Labor has criticised the lack of vision in the budget handed down by the government earlier this month, as the nation moves towards its largest deficit since World War II.
Addressing the Association of Financial Advisers Virtual Conference on Thursday, opposition financial services spokesman Stephen Jones said while the budget had included some positive policies to free up cash and stimulate investment in the economy, the “vision” it presented around Australia’s recovery from the COVID pandemic was underwhelming.
“The budget included bringing forward the stage two tax cuts and the increase of business investment incentives, and we all welcome the fact that the government has implemented and brought forward these reforms,” Mr Jones said.
“But for a budget that has seen the largest deficit since World War 2 and the level of government debt roar past $1 trillion, you would expect that if we were going to rack up a deficit of that size, that there would be some overarching vision and that we’re going to see some substantial legacy left behind.”
Mr Jones said ongoing certainty around how the COVID crisis was going to evolve in the coming year was no excuse for the government not to develop and implement a broader long-term vision for economic growth.
“None of us know when we’ll emerge from this crisis, but the way that we emerge is within our control, and what we’re certain of is that government will have a key role in that transition process,” he said.
“We’re relying on the spending of government to prop up aggregate demand and facilitate the pathway for business and households to find their way out of the deep malaise we find ourselves in.”
Mr Jones added that while the opposition did not take issue with the individual policies within the budget, the government’s seeming lack of ideas around long-term job generation and economic recovery was a concern, given that 30 per cent of businesses were still reliant on wage subsidies to keep their staff employed.
“The substantial criticism we have is not so much individual decisions within it but the fact that there was no overarching vision for how the government sees Australia emerging from this crisis and how we’re going to be at a better place when we come out of it,” he said.
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