If the Abbott government continues to play politics on the economy it could tarnish the G20, former treasurer Wayne Swan says.

Former treasurer Wayne Swan has urged the Abbott government to avoid playing “tacky” domestic politics when Australia hosts the G20.

His call comes after Prime Minister Tony Abbott took aim at Labor’s stimulus spending during a speech at a World Economic Forum meeting in Davos last month.

Mr Abbott told the meeting the former government had tried to spend its way out of prosperity, and were comparable to “addicts in search of a fix”.

Mr Swan labelled the speech “partisan” and “very unfortunate”, and warned Mr Abbott against continuing the attack during the series of G20 meetings in Australia this year.

“I saw this happen when the French were in the chair (with President) Sarkozy, some years ago, and it really tarnished the credibility of the G20, both at a finance level and leadership meeting,” the Labor backbencher told ABC Radio on Tuesday.

“That could well be a blight on the G20 here … if the government decides to try and use it for partisan reasons.”

Speaking ahead of the G20 finance ministers’ meeting in Sydney this weekend, Mr Swan accused the coalition of talking down Australia’s economy to score points against the former Labor government.

He said Treasurer Joe Hockey had chosen the most pessimistic forecasts in December’s mid-year economic and fiscal outlook (MYEFO), which showed the federal budget had blown out by a $17 billion since the federal election.

The Reserve Bank of Australia and International Monetary Fund were both more optimistic about Australia’s economy, Mr Swan said.

“Joe Hockey, I believe, is deliberately choosing lower forecasts to increase deficits to claim that that’s a Labor legacy, and he’s done it in a blatantly political way,” he said.

The partisanship on the economy had to stop, he said.

“And it certainly should stop while we’ve got international leaders in Australia this week,” Mr Swan said.

“We should be talking our show up, not talking it down like the government’s been doing.”

The G20 leaders’ meeting will be held in Brisbane in November, with likely guests including US President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.