Not my job to comment on Greece: Abbott

Prime Minister Tony Abbott won’t be offering a running commentary on what the troubled economies of Greece and China should be doing.


Instead, his job is to build a strong and prosperous Australia, he says.

Mr Abbott was spruiking the government’s grocery code of conduct, outside a western Sydney store of supermarket giant Woolworths on Tuesday when he was quizzed by reporters on developments in Europe and China.

But he stayed very much on message, saying the important thing was for the government to do whatever it could to build a strong and prosperous economy.

That meant a grocery code of conduct.

“This is about ensuring we have the strongest possible local businesses to supply the strongest possible local businesses,” he said.

Acting Treasurer Bruce Billson was more to the point, saying the next few days would be “very significant” as Greece and eurozone finance ministers try to thrash out a bailout solution.

Finance ministers later on Tuesday will be urging the Greek authorities to devise a new proposition that appeases lenders and allows a renewed supply of funding to the Greek economy after Sunday’s referendum rejected bailout terms.

“Now what needs to happen is a clear definition of what’s next,” Mr Billson told ABC radio, adding the Australian government was closely monitoring developments.

Mr Billson also believes Chinese authorities have intervened to stop a shares slump in a “confident and bold way”.

Former Liberal treasurer Peter Costello warns the Greek crisis provides lessons for Australia, arguing the time to worry about debt is before it gets out of control.

The Australian government was still borrowing $100 million a day, he wrote in The Daily Telegraph.

While the government could easily borrow that amount, it shouldn’t do it indefinitely, he said.

Australian consumers are clearly worried events in Greece, and problems in China, will flow through to the Australian economy.

The ANZ-Roy Morgan consumer confidence index fell 4.6 per cent in the past week, eroding most of gains made since the May budget.

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