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Monday, 29 November 2004
Page: 18

Mr CADMAN (1:41 PM) —Mr Speaker, I congratulate you on your appointment as Speaker and your exhibition of generosity in the last few minutes. The address-in-reply debate gives us an opportunity to look at the past three years and the challenges of the future, of the next three years. It is a pivotal point where the government sets out its plans for the coming period, based on the result of the election. A critical factor of the past three years has surely been the growth of Australia. Growth is needed to supply employment, and a growth of three to four per cent is critical for there to be a growth in jobs. The current government has achieved that growth. There has been a growth in jobs, and there has been an increase in the capacity of business and families.

The most important factor in achieving growth is to establish confidence. Confidence in business and families is the key factor in a successful economy and a successful nation. There has been confidence in Australia. Confidence has been built up over a period of time. One of the most significant factors in achieving that confidence has been a plan to pay off the debt that we were left with by the previous Labor government. That was a confidence-building factor for most people. They knew we were in debt and they wanted a process whereby we could restore a proper balance. There was $9 or $10 billion going out every year just to cover the debt. It was a huge drain on Australian taxpayers. They understood that a plan to deal with the debt was significant. A plan to reduce taxation, to give people more of their own money, was a significant confidence builder as well. We had a plan to be competitive, to be able to establish our place in the world, to trade with the best and to hold our own. The community has seen that and has welcomed the opportunity to expand into world markets and to expand into local markets and replace imports.

Reward for effort is a significant part of confidence building and, therefore, a significant part of growth and a successful economy. An increase in productivity has been brought about by people being more content in the workplace. There have been fewer strikes, fewer stoppages, real increases in reward, better returns for effort, better returns for families and better outcomes for a week's work. These have also been part of a confidence-building process that we have experienced and which indeed has been part of the reason for the growth in the economy—more jobs, falling unemployment, real wage increases, a low cost-of-living increase and low interest rates. All these factors together have produced a boost in confidence, a capacity for growth, increased wealth, increased income and increased prosperity. Now is an opportunity for us to assess some of the problems that have been overcome: the Asian economic crisis, world terrorism and the declining rainfall that has affected so many Australian industries.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Causley)—Order! It being 1.45 p.m., the debate is interrupted in accordance with the motion agreed to on 18 November 2004. The debate is adjourned and the resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for a later hour of the day. The honourable member for Mitchell will have leave to continue his remarks when the debate is resumed.