Prime Minister Scott Morrison warned that next week’s budget would remain vulnerable to the global economic situation but was reluctant to explain how some of its measures would boost employment and demand.
Mr Morrison said that while Australia was in a better position than most to assess how its economy would perform and that the government had made the right choice in pushing the budget back, the country is still living through “the most uncertain times any of us have seen”.
“We can do everything we can to boost Australia’s economy through the measures that will be in next week’s budget and in the JobMaker plan over the next five years,” Mr Morrison told the National Press Club.
“But we will also be vulnerable to the global economy...in that environment, I think Treasury’s task, and the Reserve Bank’s task for that matter is very, very difficult.”
The Morrison government and Treasury wound up in hot water after announcing a budget update shortly before Victoria reimposed lockdown measures, derailing the recovery – but Mr Morrison said the government was prepared to “quickly come together and consider any changes that are necessary” if the recovery was challenged.
But later in his speech, Mr Morrison was reluctant to explain how some of the measures set to be announced in next week’s budget – including personal tax cuts – will boost demand and employment in a time when consumer confidence has cratered.
“I never tell people what to do with their own money,” Mr Morrison said in response to a question on how people could be incentivised to spend the savings of tax cuts.
“When you’re talking about income tax cuts, they’re just getting to keep more of what they earn. In these times we have seen, particularly when it comes to retail and household items, we have seen quite extraordinarily an increase in response in those areas and that has responded to the aggregate demand stimulus we have put into the economy,” he said.
“But I’m not going to get into an edict to Australians on how they should spend their money. There’s plenty of people out there who want to tell people how to spend their money, but the Liberal and Nationals parties are not two of those organisations.”
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