Australia 'Is this a sign the economy is in a bad state?' Sam Armytage clashes with Scott Morrison over his $4BILLION cash splash on rail and road projects
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Scott Morrison denied the economy is struggling in a tense interview with Samantha Armytage this morning.
The Sunrise host grilled the Prime Minister on plans to spend $3.8billion on national infrastructure projects during the next four years.
Most of the cash for rail and road projects had already been allocated.
The Morrison Government, however, will spend it sooner as Australia's economic growth stagnates at the slowest pace since the global financial crisis a decade ago.
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Armytage wasted no time pointing this out.
'Is this a sign that the economy is in a pretty bad state?',' she asked.
Mr Morrison said the government was 'investing in projects that the people need'.
'We have been working on this since the election over the last six months and I have been speaking with state and territory premiers and chief ministers to bring these projects through with $3.8 billion being invested in these important projects,' he said.
The Prime Minister then listed some of the projects due for federal investment, including the light rail on the Gold Coast, the M1 in Queensland, the Tonkin Highway in Western Australia, the Princes Highway in New South Wales and the Monash Freeway in Melbourne.
Natalie Barr probed the Prime Minister further, pointing out the combined level of underemployment and unemployment was 13.8 per cent.
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'We have record low interest rates but people aren't spending. Wages are stagnant. So, is the economy struggling and is going to get worse? Is this really why you are doing this?' she asked.
Mr Morrison admitted there were 'though challenges' but insisted that the Australian economy was strong compared with other western nations - even though the 1.4 per cent growth pace for the year to June was the slowest since 2009.
'We are expecting things to improve next year,' he said.
Scott Morrison's infrastructure projects
The PM wants to spend $100billion on transport infrastructure over the next 10 years.
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November 18, 2019. Federal Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor speaks to reporters in Sydney after addressing the 2019 UBS Australasia Conference. Mr Taylor is asked what he would say “to those who are saying the terrible bushfire season we’re having highlights the need to rely more on renewable energy”. Mr Taylor responds: “In the past, bushfires united Australia, it’s sad to see some attempting to divide, I think it’s crucial that we stay united to support those communities that are affected by bushfire… the truth is we have a strong emissions reduction policy that is delivering results.” Mr Taylor is then asked why Australia is going to use Kyoto carryover credits “which will halve Australia’s abatement into the next decade”. Mr Taylor responds: “Because we’ve met and beat our targets.
Some of the projects due for funding in the next four years are:
Light rail on the Gold Coast
The M1 in Queensland
The Tonkin Highway in WA
The Princes Highway in NSW
The Monash Freeway in Melbourne
Six road projects in Adelaide
Other projects include:
Melbourne Airport rail link
Melbourne to Brisbane inland rail
Airport in Western Sydney in 2026
Midland Highway upgrade
Pacific Highway upgrade
North Link WA
Asked why he was announcing spending plans now, Mr Morrison said the investment had been planned since the budget in April.
'We have been working through this over months and months, not in a panic or a crisis,' he said.
On Monday Mr Morrison announced a plan to spend $415million across six road projects in Adelaide by fast-tracking $328million and forking out $87million more.
He is expected to announce similar plans for projects in Queensland and Western Australia this week.
The plan will bring forward $1.8billion of federal funding to be spent this year and next.
Mr Morrison will discuss the fast-tracking plan in a speech on Wednesday night in which he will describe the Labor Party as a group of 'panic merchants'.
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In the speech at the Business Council Of Australia's annual dinner in Sydney, he is expected to say: 'This will support the economy in two ways - by accelerating construction activity and supporting jobs in the near term and by reaping longer run productivity gains sooner.'
The government has championed its infrastructure pipeline since the April federal budget but has faced criticism in recent months about the speed of its delivery.
Labor, big banks, economists and the Reserve Bank of Australia have called for the government to bring forward some of the planned projects to stimulate the economy.
But it has been protective of the slim budget surplus it expects to deliver this financial year.
Mr Morrison is expected to trumpet his successful economic management in the speech, contrasting it with what he says is Labor's instinct to panic and spend.
'A panicked reaction to contemporary challenges would amount to a serious misdiagnosis of our economic situation,' he is expected to say.
'A responsible and sensible government does not run the country as if it is constantly at DEFCON 1 the whole time, whether on the economy or any other issue.
'If Australians wanted to elect economic panic merchants, they would have voted Labor.'
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Mr Morrison sees the expected surplus as a significant achievement that is 'the product of difficult and disciplined choices over six successive coalition budgets', three of which he delivered as treasurer.
And the point of that surplus is to pay down the nation's debt and reduce the $19billion in annual interest paid.
'It's not extra money that just lies around, squirrelled away for no good purpose, or like coins down the back of the sofa,' he is expected to say.
A rope, tear gas and a fractured foot: How one Hong Kong protester escaped a besieged university .
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