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Tuesday, 8 August 2006
Page: 1

Mr KEENAN (2:05 PM) —My question is addressed to the Treasurer. Would the Treasurer outline to the House the results of the latest Economic Survey of Australia? What does this indicate about the Australian economic outlook?

Mr COSTELLO (Treasurer) —I thank the honourable member for Stirling for his question. I can inform him that the OECD released its report last week on Australia. The OECD survey noted that Australia’s recent macro-economic performance since the turn of the millennium has averaged around three per cent and growth in real domestic income averaged four per cent, placing Australia amongst a handful of OECD countries which achieved such rapid growth. The unemployment rate has fallen to five per cent, and the OECD noted in its report that:

… Australia is now one of the few OECD countries where general government net debt has been eliminated.

That is because this government has now relieved Australia of Labor’s $96 billion of net debt.

The OECD report was picked up by the Financial Times of London, which in its editorial on 1 August wrote the following:

What can you say about an economy that is a textbook case of good policies, well executed? That is the challenge facing the authors of the latest survey of Australia by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development …

The Financial Times went on to say:

Though the OECD identifies some causes for concern, its report card is mostly straight “A”s.

The list of achievements is impressive. After years of sustained growth, Australia enjoys higher living standards than all the Group of Seven economies except the US.

Let me stop there. After 10 years of economic management, living standards in Australia now exceed the living standards of every one of the G7 countries with the exception of the United States. The OECD said that this was the result of impressive reform—reforms like balancing the budget, repaying $96 billion of debt, introducing the GST, reducing income taxes and reforming industrial relations. All of those reforms were opposed by Labor, and if Labor has its way it will roll Australia back to where it was suffering under the poor administration of the Labor Party back in the 1990s. The coalition has turned Australia’s fortunes for the better, and that is the pay-off from reform.