New figures have backed Treasurer Scott Morrison’s optimistic economic outlook for the year, with a jump in job advertising pointing to further strong employment gains.
Mr Morrison, who has just returned from a trip to the US, says the Trump administration’s tax cuts are already having a psychological impact on US businesses and points to a year of “great economic opportunity” around the world.
The treasurer met with key US business leaders and tax reform was high on the agenda.
“It’s for us to ensure that businesses, all Australians, can realise that opportunity – that’s what I think this year’s about and I’m looking forward to that,” he told reporters on Monday as he arrived for a traditional church service in Canberra ahead of the first parliamentary sitting of the year.
The Turnbull government will make pushing through the remainder of its business tax cuts a major priority in coming weeks, having so far only secured reductions for firms with a turnover of up to $50 million.
“The Australian economy is off to a great start this year, the global economy is off to a great start this year and I’m looking forward to Australians being able to realise their economic opportunities, to lift their living standards, to boost their wages,” Mr Morrison said.
The government has also flagged personal income tax cuts to be announced in the May budget.
The treasurer and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull fielded several questions on the economy during the first parliamentary question time of the year, enabling them to repeatedly boast about the record 403,000 jobs that were created over 2017 under their watch.
The ANZ’s monthly job advertisement report released on Monday also showed a 6.2 per cent jump in January, more than reversing the 2.7 per cent fall in the previous month., to be 13.8 per cent up on the year.
“Employers are looking for labour, they’re looking for employees … we are looking to see now, this year, the growth in wages that a stronger economy will deliver,” Mr Turnbull told parliament.
However, such strength does have consequences, as seen in the US on Friday where shares slumped more than two per cent on concerns the US Federal Reserve may have to quicken the pace of interest rate rises on accelerating wages growth.
Australian shares fell over one per cent on Monday in sympathy.
For now, economists expect flatlining wage growth in Australia is likely to restrain the Reserve Bank from raising the official interest rate anytime soon, despite a wealth of upbeat economic figures in recent weeks.
The central bank will hold its first board meeting of the year on Tuesday and is widely expected to keep the cash rate at a record low 1.5 per cent, where it has stood since August 2016.