"Virtually impossible" for Aust to avoid recession, says PMBy Sandra O'Malley and Melissa Jenkins
22 Mar 2009 5:23 PM
CANBERRA, March 22 AAP - In his strongest language yet, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has admitted it is "virtually impossible" for the Australian economy to avoid recession.
It's a tacit acknowledgement that government action - including pumping more than $50 billion directly into the economy since December - won't be enough to stave off recession.
"It's clear that the impact of a worsening economic global recession will make it virtually impossible for Australia to sustain a positive economic growth for the period ahead, with impacts, of course, for budget and employment, which underlines the importance of global action in response to the global recession," Mr Rudd told the Nine Network.
Australians, however, will have to wait months to know if the nation is technically in recession - conventionally considered to be two quarters of negative economic growth.
March quarter national accounts figures are due for release on June 3.
While Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull agrees those figures are likely to show Australia is in a technical recession, he still believes the government is mistaken in talking down the economy.
Mr Rudd heads to the United States for his first ever face-to-face meeting with Barack Obama on Tuesday and Mr Turnbull believes the prime minister can learn a lot from the American president.
"Mr Rudd almost invariably speaks about the Australian economy in apocalyptic terms and in terms of disaster and catastrophe," Mr Turnbull told ABC TV.
"You know, we've got to be upbeat here and we have to recognise that we have, relative to other countries, the strongest or certainly one of the strongest economies in the world."
On his return from the US and Britain, where he will attend the G20 meeting, Mr Rudd will head into the final weeks of preparations for the May 12 budget.
Mr Rudd joked Treasurer Wayne Swan's hair would be turning greyer by the minute as he prepared a tough May budget, against the backdrop of a global economy forecast to shrink by up to one per cent.
"What you have got on one side of it, is collapsing government revenues coming straight off the back of the global economic recession, happening with every other budget around the world," he said.