Prime Minister Scott Morrison used a recent Asia Society of Australia Q & A session to reassure the nation that the government has no concerns about ‘policy paralysis’ leading up to the election.
During a fireside chat with Bloomberg presenter Haidi Stroud-Watts in Sydney, the PM replied to a question about whether he was worried that the government might not be able to get anything done in the six months leading up to the election.
“No, because we keep getting things done,” Morrison said, before boasting of contracts to produce military equipment and the transition from a vehicle-producing economy to one focusing on manufacturing, medicine, aged care and resources.
The prime minister also said the recent legislation fast-tracking the reduction of the small-business tax rate to 25 per cent was an example of the government’s activity.
“That was done within weeks of it coming through our own Cabinet,” Morrison noted. “So we are constantly identifying and moving on issues and that will happen all the way up to the next election and you’ll continue to see legislation passed.”
Asked by Stroud-Watts about Australia’s remarkable “26 years without a recession”, Morrison smiled and corrected her – “27 but who’s counting” – before explaining that it was due to a mixture of good fortune and good policy. He also singled out the strength of the banking and financial system, which enabled banks to “lend through” the GFC.
“The good fortune helps but the good policy is what delivers,” Morrison said.
When answering a question on the importance of open markets, he defended what Stroud-Watts called “uncharacteristic interventions in the markets” by saying that when the government intervened it was “very targeted”.
He specified the energy market and the banking and finance sector as “heavily regulated parts of the Australian economy”, which after time can produce “some quite uncompetitive, anti-consumer behaviour”.
While Morrison didn’t directly reference the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry, the spectre of anti-consumer behaviour is something the finance community is fighting on several fronts after numerous allegations of misconduct and mismanagement were levelled at the industry’s major players.
“So what you have to do as a government is seek to have interventions that try to reproduce what you’d want to happen,” Morrison continued.
The prime minister believes competitiveness has “clearly been lacking” in the energy and finance sectors, as opposed to in other areas of the economy where there is, “a pretty fair dinkum market economy operating”, he said.