Scott Morrison warns against change in final election pitch to Australia | Australia news

Scott Morrison has used his final set piece speech before Saturday’s election to warn against a change of government, as Labor leader Bill Shorten promotes a “mood for change” in the electorate.

Drawing on Shorten’s decision to speak in Blacktown – at the venue of Gough Whitlam’s It’s Time speech in 1972 – Morrison outlined the reasons he believed “it was not time” to vote out the Coalition.

“Now is not the time for a weaker economy, now is not the time for policies and an experiment that puts our economy under unnecessary pressure when we are facing the challenges that we are facing,” Morrison said.

“Now is not the time, with trade tensions between China and the United States, now is not the time when there is uncertainty in the security environment, now is certainly not the time to do things that will weaken our economy.”

Pitching his economic plan to undecided voters, Morrison said maintaining a strong economy would be the “ticket to ride” for Australians, underpinning spending on essential services.

“It will determine so many of your choices. And I want you to live in an economy where you can have those choices and where together, as a country and as a society, we take action on the things that are also very important to all of us as Australians – but you must be able to do it from a position of a strong economy, because if you don’t have that, then basically you don’t have a ticket to ride.”

While using his formal speech to focus on the government’s economic plans, Morrison fielded questions on a range of issues at the National Press Club, including reports that two suspected murderers were settled in Australia under the asylum seeker deal struck between Australia and the US. Morrison repeatedly refused to comment on details of the case, saying only that appropriate security checks were undertaken.

“I can assure you that the full security and character test assessments were undertaken by our security agencies in relation to all persons who have entered Australia.”

The prime minister also rejected suggestions the Coalition would be conflicted if it was forced to deal with Clive Palmer in the Senate, given the commonwealth is pursuing the Queensland billionaire through the courts to maximise the return to the taxpayer from his collapsed Queensland Nickel business.

“We will continue to pursue that measure through the courts, with full vigour. And are very confident in our ability to pursue that, as we absolutely should.”

Morrison said Palmer had not requested leniency from the Liberals when the party struck an agreement to trade preference on how-to-vote cards, and none would be shown.

Arguing Saturday’s poll would be a close election, the prime minister said every vote would be critical in deciding who would form government and the direction of the country for the decade ahead.

“Don’t let anyone tell you that this election is run and done,” Morrison said.

“Every single vote will count.”

He said he did not believe voters were looking for a “big-spending, big-taxing” policy agenda, taking aim at Labor for its spending record in government.

“That’s no vision. What they are looking for is something that’s real, something that’s credible, something that’s achievable, and being achieved, something they know they can afford, not the Bill they can’t afford.”

Morrison also criticised Shorten for suggesting he would increase the Newstart payment without providing costings.

The pitch to voters to give the Coalition a third term comes as Bill Shorten uses a speech at Blacktown in Sydney – at the same venue of Gough Whitlam’s It’s Time speech – to call for a change in government.

“There is a mood for change right across Australia,” Shorten said while campaigning in Sydney on Thursday morning.

“The government has run out of ideas [and] it’s rapidly running out of time.

“People want to see real action on climate, they want to see the pensioners get the dental care they so richly deserve, they want the cuts to schools and hospitals reversed, they want to end the chaos in Canberra.”

Morrison said Shorten should have instead presented himself to the National Press Club for the traditional pre-election address, saying the opposition leader was more interested in a “coronation tour”.

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