Australian Economy

Former prime minister John Howard slams Labor’s past economic management, predicts a close result on May 21

Former prime minister John Howard has slammed Labor’s economic credentials, pointing to their last time in government – while labelling Anthony Albanese as not having a grip on reality.

Former prime minister John Howard has thrown Labor’s economic management into question, saying their recent policy costings will be higher than advertised.

Mr Howard pointed to the latest employment figures, which were released earlier on Thursday by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Unemployment dropped to its lowest rate since 1974, down to 3.9 per cent for the month of April.

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Underemployment also dropped from 6.3 to 6.1 per cent and approximately 4,000 jobs were created during the month.

“To have an unemployment rate with a three in front of it is a cause of great celebration,” Mr Howard told Sky News Australia’s Paul Murray.

“If you can’t get a job you can forget about a wage increase because you won’t have a wage to increase.

“I just hope the Australian people vote to keep the people who have presided over this remarkable recovery.”

Mr Howard contrasted that with Labor’s policy costings, which showed the party would add $7.4 billion to the budget deficit if elected.

The Coalition on Tuesday announced $1 billion of further savings by unveiling it would increase the efficiency dividend by 0.5 per cent.

The difference between the two campaigns’ costings would therefore balloon out to $8.4 billion.

“Any announced Labor deficit will, in reality, turn out to be worse,” the former prime minister said.

“That’s what happened when they were last in power. They are no good at managing money.

“I hope the Australian people recall that and will vote for a group of men and women who do put much greater emphasis on balancing the books.

“I don’t like the fact we are so heavily in deficit but the alternative to that was to leave the economy a smoking ruin.

“Unlike other recessions, the government created the recession. It created in the name of saving lives because of the threat to life and health.”

Mr Howard – who has felt the mood of voters on the ground – has warned of arrogance being displayed by Labor – accusing Mr Albanese of not having a grip on reality.

“I think this election is going to very close,” Mr Howard said.

“I think anybody who is talking as if it’s going to be a clear-cut change of government on Saturday night, is really displaying hubris.

“And really behaving arrogantly.”

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