Scott Morrison's 2021 National Press Club address

Scott Morrison's 2021 National Press Club address

In his first major speech of the parliamentary year, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has forcefully ruled out raising taxes.

The prime minister rejected the idea that taxes were the “holy grails of economic reform” as the nation recovers from the coronavirus pandemic.

As pressure continues to mount on the federal government to commit to a net zero emissions by 2050 target, Mr Morrison said his government would not “tax our way to net zero emissions”.

“I’m not putting on a carbon tax and I’m not putting up the GST,” he said on Monday.

“They’re just tax increases. That’s all they are.”

Instead, Mr Morrison said Australia would invest in skills and training for young people and would use technology to reduce emissions.

“If you don’t get there by technology, if that’s not used, then the only way to get there is by a tax,” he said.

“We are doing the things that are needed to grow the economy.”

Mr Morrison refused to rule out changes to the scheduled superannuation rise and remained tight lipped on whether JobSeeker payments would return to $40 a day.

He said the government was awaiting data that would determine if any new measures would be implemented once the JobSeeker supplement and the JobKeeper wage subsidy ended in late March.

Asked whether he would make companies repay JobKeeper funds if they gave their executives bonuses, Mr Morrison said: “I’m not in the politics of envy.”

But opposition treasury spokesman Jim Chalmers said if the government had wasted less money it would be able to give more to help struggling Australians.

Dr Chalmers said Mr Morrison also missed an opportunity to commit to net zero commissions by 2050.

“Net zero emissions is all about jobs and opportunities for Australians,” he said.

Mr Morrison said the government remained committed to its relationship with China although it had different economic and political systems.

“An enduring partnership requires both of us to adapt to new realities and talk to each other and that begins with dialogue at both ministerial and leader level,” he said.

“A dialogue focused not on concessions but on areas of mutual benefit committed to finding a way for our nations and peoples to beneficially engage into the future.”

Meanwhile, Myanmar’s military has reportedly taken control of the country and declared a state of emergency for a year.

Mr Morrison said he was aware of the “troubling reports”, which were being closely watched.

“We have been a long standing supporter of Myanmar’s democratic transition,” Mr Morrison said.

“Clearly, there are very significant hurdles for them still to overcome and the tensions are still very present.”

Dr Chalmers said Labor condemned any actions in Myanmar that compromised the country’s efforts to strengthen the democratic transition.