Former prime minister John Howard has slammed the Federal Government for its handling of the Australian economy during the global recession. Mr Howard says Kevin Rudd wasted money by giving away cash handouts and has contributed to unemployment by scrapping WorkChoices.
Speaking on Sky News, Mr Howard says Mr Rudd has made things worse for the economy after inheriting a huge surplus. "Mr Rudd, if he was honest with himself, ought to thank me every night for the state of the Australian economy that he inherited on November 24, 2007," he said. "Because the strengths it now has in the face of the global downturn, are the strengths given to it by my government."
Before the last election, Labor promised to scrap the Coalition's WorkChoices laws and it managed to get its new laws through Parliament earlier this year. Mr Howard says the changes have pushed up the cost of employing people. He says that is bad for an economy in a recession. "The biggest challenge that the Government now faces is stopping unemployment going too high," he said. "They are now by dismantling our industrial relations reforms. They are adding to unemployment. They are doing it deliberately as an act of choice."
Liberal leader Malcolm Turnbull has been heavily critical of the Government's debt levels in the wake of this week's Budget, which revealed a record deficit and a peak of $188 billion in net debt by 2013.
The Government says if it did not borrow to fund spending on infrastructure projects and other stimulus measures the economy would be in a far worse state.
Mr Turnbull says a Coalition government would be able to keep debt and the deficit lower but has not put a figure on how much less the Opposition would be able to borrow while still keeping the economy in good shape.
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