Federal election 2022: Anthony Albanese lays out economic credentials in National Press Club address

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Lanai ScarrThe West Australian
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VideoScott Morrison and Anthony Albanese discuss each other's strengths.

Anthony Albanese has laid out his economic credentials three days out from the election — and without yet having released his full policy costings. The Opposition Leader on Wednesday addressed the National Press Club in Canberra in his final major address of the campaign.

Scott Morrison has declined a Press Club address, becoming the first Prime Minister in 50 years to not address the forum prior to an election. Mr Albanese said he would be “working hard for every vote” until the polls closed at 6pm on Saturday. He said responsible economic management was vital.

“It’s why we’ll target the waste and rorts in the Morrison Government’s Budget,” he said. “Our targeted and responsible investments — which are a fraction of what the Government has wasted — will be all about strengthening the economy, increasing productivity and supporting families.”

Mr Albanese announced that Labor would reduce the uncommitted funding in the Community Development Grants Program by $350 million and return the $400m Regionalisation Fund back to the Budget.

“These two decisions alone will repair the Budget by three-quarters of a billion dollars,” Mr Albanese said.

“If I have the honour of serving as Prime Minister, it will be my mission — and my responsibility - to ensure that every dollar spent in the Budget is used to drive the productivity growth we need to pay down Liberal debt, and to deliver meaningful quality of life improvements for all Australians.”

Mr Albanese said the PM did not deserve another term.

He said the Liberal campaign “is about them”.

“Their obsessions, their vendettas, their political survival,” he said. Mr Albanese said the pandemic “showcased the strength of our community”. “But it also exposed the vulnerabilities in our economy,” he said. “These problems aren’t new … most are the consequences of a decade of neglect.”

Mr Albanese said changing the Government was the best way to change the nation. “We simply can’t afford three more years of the same,” he said. Under questioning, Mr Albanese was pressed on whether he would pick up the phone to Chinese President Xi Jinping if he was elected. He wouldn’t directly answer the question about the Chinese leader but said the United States would be a key plank of Australia’s foreign affairs strategy if elected. “I will cherish relationships that I build, including reacquainting myself with President Biden,” Mr Albanese said. What we’ve seen is a whole series of Australia’s international relations being damaged. Now, what weak leadership is is leaking a private text message with an ally. That’s weak. That’s... because you’re under pressure.”

Mr Albanese said he worked with business and unions and he would be the person that could bring the two groups together.

“I’ve had direct discussions with small business and with the Business Council of Australia and other businesses, as well as with unions about the prospect of sincere, real change that provides a win win,” Mr Albanese said.

“I think we can get a win win with small business, but we can also get wins with larger businesses and unions as well. We have common interests. This has been a thing well back I’ve been speaking about for a very long period of time.

“You can’t have union members if you don’t have successful employers and we have common interests here. Business recognizes that unions recognize what they haven’t had as a part of that to bring people together.“

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