In an address to the Business Council of Australia on Wednesday afternoon, Mr Morrison paid tribute to the airlines, resource companies, banks and tech companies for playing their “incredibly important” part in helping Australians through the COVID crisis, as well as noting the significant role of his own government.
“But when I think of Australia’s achievements, I see them as Australia’s achievements, and that we’ve all been a part of that,” he said.
“And we are at a moment of considerable promise. Our society is reopening, it’s exciting. Our economy is on the recovery path, and we’re all looking forward. We’re not looking in that rear view mirror.”
He further reassured Australians they could rely on the federal government to back a “business-led recovery” over a “government-centred recovery”.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has praised the federal government’s economic handling of the coronavirus pandemic, but said it is now time for them to ‘step back’. Picture: Sam Mooy/Getty Images
“There is a time, of course, for government to step forward and and we have done that over the last 18 months … all arms of government policy geared to saving lives and saving livelihoods, amidst the greatest health and economic shock in our lifetime.
“But there is also a time for government to step back, so Australians can move forward. To unwind restrictions, to unleash the entrepreneurship of private enterprise, to enable you to invest and grow and shape your business for the future.”
“And that time is now upon us. It’s time to move ahead … conditioned necessarily by the need to open safely and stay safely open.”
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Mr Morrison went on to spruik his government’s economic management throughout the pandemic, saying it was responsible for Australia retaining its AAA credit rating from all three credit agency.
He referenced RBA Governor Phil Lowe who said the Commonwealth government’s actions to support the economy saved at least 700,000 jobs, while the RBA forecast the national economy would grow by 5.5 per cent in 2022 and the unemployment forecast to fall to four per cent by the June quarter in 2023.
“Compared with the end of 2019, household cash savings have increased by $185 billion and business cash holdings have increased by $145 billion by the end of August 2021,” Mr Morrison said.
“Now, there are green shoots, you’re seeing them, of confidence. Confidence is king, and Australians can look over the coming months with confidence.”
The Prime Minister outlined the government’s role was to enable Australians to make the choices they want, “to back them in, to continue to chart the way forward and strengthen the foundations of Australia’s future”.
“But, of course, we just can’t turn the clock back to 2019. We also have to look forward and we have to embrace the future, with trademark Australian resilience, ingenuity, optimism and confidence.”
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The “accelerated” digitalisation of many Australian businesses and workplaces was also highlighted by Mr Morrison on Wednesday, which he attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’ve also seen almost nine in ten Australian firms adopt new technologies. A third of Australian businesses expanded their online presence in the first three weeks of the pandemic. And we’ve seen the tech sector now grow at four times the rate of the rest of the economy,” he said.
“And I’ve said many times, every business in Australia is now a digital business and there’s no going back, and nor do we want to, given changing expectations about how we live and how we work, how we communicate and how we shop.”
He said the government’s Digital Economic Strategy was setting the stage for Australia to become a leading digital economy by 2030 and was putting businesses, investors and entrepreneurs “in the driver’s seat to realise the opportunities that are ahead”.
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The Prime Minister was severely lashed by Western Australian, Victorian and Queensland leaders last week for  instructing premiers to take a step back from interfering in Australians’ lives once COVID-19 vaccination targets.
Mr Morrison said he sympathised with Australians who’ve had a “gutful of governments telling them what to do over the last two years”.
He added while the federal government backed mandatory vaccinations in specific circumstances it was not in favour of governments imposing mandatory jabs.
“They [Australians] have kept their side of the deal in getting vaccinated. Australians have done their part. It’s now time for them to be able to step forward with their lives and for governments to step back out of their lives,” he said last Thursday.

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