Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones is adamant that the former Morrison government deserves no credit for Australia maintaining its triple-A rating, saying Labor inherited an atrocious set of budget books.
Global credit rating Moody’s Investors Service affirmed Australia’s triple-A rating on Tuesday, saying it expects its wealthy and resilient economy will continue to grow solidly in the medium term.
But it expects budget repair will be gradual in the medium term.
“The strong fiscal expansion deployed to limit the pandemic’s impact on economic activity and employment, and ramp-up infrastructure investment, will cause continued deterioration of the fiscal metrics,” it said.
Mr Jones said the former coalition government deserved zero credit for the rating affirmation.
“We inherited an atrocious set of books,” he told Sky News on Wednesday.
“They talked a lot about economic management but did very little of it.”
He said he, Treasurer Jim Chalmers and Finance Minister Katy Gallagher are going through the books day after day in preparation for Labor”s first budget on October and are finding “little hand grenades ready to be kicked and going off”.
“This time next year we will be spending more money on servicing Scott Morrison’s debt than we are spending on Medicare. That’s not sustainable,” Mr Jones said.
Deputy Liberal leader Sussan Ley scoffed at such remarks, saying she was “bewildered” by Mr Jones’ response.
“Full marks for just a brazen, outright mistruth,” she told Sky News.
“Of course this government inherited the beat set of numbers. We improved the budget bottom line by $100 billion … in the last budget.”
That improvement, and since, has been aided by strong commodity prices resulting from the war in the Ukraine, which Moody’s believes will remain elevated, supporting Australia’s income growth.
The agency also noted early signs of productivity enhancing reforms under the new government.
That included lifting women’s participation in the workforce through support for childcare and gender pay equity, a large-scale infrastructure program focused on improving transport systems, support for innovation and the response to climate change.