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Thursday, 21 February 2008
Page: 1188

Dr JENSEN (9:48 AM) —I have been noticing of late that the Labor government are attempting to rewrite history. We have a situation where we have an economy that is basically the best in Australian history, and what are the Labor Party trying to do about it? They are trying to say that the economic indicators and conditions are terrible. In fact, they are trying to indicate an emergency situation to such an extent that they believe they should be freezing politicians’ wages. When you think about it, this is a very dangerous stunt because it removes the independence of the Remuneration Tribunal. The Remuneration Tribunal should be able to independently set the wages of politicians and other senior public servants.

Mr Slipper —Wasn’t that why it was set up—

Dr JENSEN —It was exactly why it was set up.

Mr Slipper —to remove politicians from the decision-making process?

Dr JENSEN —Exactly. The whole problem is that now you have politicians setting their own wages. When the public complain about our wages in future, how can we defend them by saying they have been set by an independent authority?

Let us have a look at the economic indicators. We have got inflation, which is being painted as a great bogeyman and as an emergency that we have got to face, that is below the OECD average. In December 2007 inflation was at three per cent. For the OECD the average was 3.3 per cent. What have we got? We have got high growth, very low unemployment, the participation rate at record levels and a net government surplus. This is not to talk about what is happening with the state governments, of course, who are going into deficit, further pushing up inflation which the Labor Party purports to be so—

Mr Slipper —A sound economic position because of the Howard government.

Dr JENSEN —Absolutely. We have a Treasurer who looks like a bunny in the headlights. He stands there at question time and he looks panicked: ‘What am I going to do? The economy is terrible.’

Mr Slipper —Like a bunny with myxomatosis.

Dr JENSEN —Absolutely. If we have a Treasurer who is performing like this when we have excellent economic conditions, how is this Treasurer going to perform when we actually do have economic hard times? The last Treasurer that I saw with the same ‘bunny in the headlights’ look as our current Treasurer was John Kerin in 1991. There was a Treasurer who had every right to look like a bunny in the headlights, because the Labor government under Hawke and Keating had a terrible economy. Here we have got an excellent economy and we have got a Treasurer who is panicked. When is the Prime Minister going to get rid of this incompetent Treasurer and when is the Prime Minister going to start telling the truth about the actual statistics in our economy? (Time expired)