Politics

PM wants lowest unemployment in 50 years as he acknowledges pandemic mistakes


“That’s what economic resilience looks like but you must project that into the future with a clear plan,” he said.

“In 2022 our focus is squarely on locking in our economic recovery to create jobs, jobs and more jobs.

“We are passionate about getting Australians into jobs and we have the experience, the track record and the economic plans that back this up.

“I believe we can now achieve an unemployment rate with a three in front of it this year. Our goal is to achieve this in the second half of 2022,” he said.

“We have not seen this in Australia for almost half a century. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

The jobs target will be a repeated message ahead of the election but cannot be tested before Australians cast their ballots, although it is in line with new forecasts from the Reserve Bank that suggest unemployment will keep falling.

“The RBA’s central forecast is for the unemployment rate to fall to below 4 per cent later in the year and to be around 3.75 per cent at the end of 2023,” said RBA governor Philip Lowe on Tuesday.

While Liberals admit voters have turned away from the government over summer, they expect support to return before the election as Australians focus on the cost of living, job creation and an economic message in the March 29 budget.

Mr Morrison came under fire on Tuesday, however, for promising $800 to aged care workers in two payments with the final sum to be paid in May, just as voters are likely to go to the polls.

“Scott Morrison’s just desperate to get their votes,” Mr Albanese said while campaigning in the NSW Hunter Valley.

“And a cash payment that does nothing to lift the wages of aged care workers beyond the next federal election campaign is an appalling response from a government that never has its hands on the steering wheel, just, as always, the bumper sticker and the ad at the back of the car.”

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Mr Albanese said a Labor government would make a submission to Fair Work Australia to back the case for a pay rise for aged care workers, but Mr Morrison made no similar pledge on Tuesday and instead criticised Labor for not saying how it would fund the pay increase.

“We’ll have more to say about that. I can assure you, our plans will be costed, our plans will be funded and we’ll know how they work,” Mr Morrison said.

Asked about the shortage of rapid antigen tests, Mr Morrison said the government had followed the advice from the Therapeutic Goods Administration, which had only approved RATs for home use from last November, when health experts and state government regarded polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests as the better standard.

While business leaders called last August for widespread use of the rapid test kits, Mr Morrison argued that no medical body or state government called for the change when the focus was on the Delta strain of the coronavirus.

“What happened with Omicron is that flipped it completely. And it did it within a matter of weeks,” he said.



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