Former prime minister John Howard believes the Australian economy is in “good shape”, especially in comparison with the rest of the world.
Speaking at the Mortgage & Finanace Association of Australia (MFAA) conference in Sydney on Friday, Mr Howard said that while many people believe the Australian economy is “running on empty at the moment”, it has actually shown unexpected resilience.
Mr Howard said he is optimistic and bullish about the future of the country.
“When the current prime minister and the treasurer and others tell you that the Australian economy is doing better than most – they are right,” he said.
“We are still fortunate that we have an unemployment rate with a five in front of it. I wouldn’t have thought that was going to be possible a couple of years ago, and I don’t think many people would have. Our unemployment has remained pleasingly quite low.
“And our debt to GDP ratio, the amount of money we owe to the strength of our economy, is still a lot better than most other countries.”
However, Mr Howard said it was important for Australia to be constantly striving for growth and betterment, so that our competitors don’t overtake us.
“In an international environment, in a globalised world economy, you have people who are in that economic foot race who are trying to get past you. And the problem about slowing down in that foot race, even if you can’t ever get to the finishing line, is that if you slow down, other people are going to go past you,” he said.
“That is a bit like what’s happening at the present time. We’ve been doing well in that foot race for about 25 years, but we’re now starting to slow down.”