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Thursday, 13 March 2008
Page: 1750

Mr SYMON (2:25 PM) —My question is to the Treasurer. Will the Treasurer update the House on the latest labour market figures released today and the government’s plans for sustainable jobs growth?

Mr SWAN (Treasurer) —I thank the honourable member for his question, because the jobs figures today are good figures.

Opposition members interjecting—

Mr SWAN —Everybody on this side of the House celebrates the jobs figures today, but they cannot understand why the member for Wentworth and the member for North Sydney have been talking about a recession. We say that these figures are certainly welcome.

Opposition members interjecting—

Mr SWAN —We are getting the ‘me too’. Will you put up your hand for the highest inflation in 16 years? Will you put up your hand for the worst productivity performance in 16 years?

Opposition members interjecting—

The SPEAKER —Order! The House will come to order.

Mr SWAN —The figures are good news, particularly for those Australians who have good jobs. We all celebrate that. We are the party of jobs. It goes to the very core of our existence. We would never do what those opposite do, which is put in place legislation like Work Choices, which ripped away wages and working conditions. We on this side of the House have some core beliefs—unlike those on that side of the House, who have no core beliefs anymore. So we celebrate. We celebrate the jobs figures today. An extra 36,700 jobs were created in February—a very solid increase in full-time employment and very good as well in the states of New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria. We celebrate those outcomes.

But there are challenges. If we want to continue to have strong jobs growth we have got to control inflation; we have got to lift our productivity. We can have strong growth if we can lift our productivity and control inflation—and that is what we on this side of the House are doing. It means fighting inflation, it means investing in the productive drivers of growth and it means dealing with the skill shortages.

Only yesterday we had the member for Wentworth give a speech—a spectacular speech. There were 4,000 words in that speech but not one positive alternative policy or solution—not one. There were 4,000 words in that speech, but he could not come up with one positive policy alternative—and we know why: he does not have a plan to control inflation. He has not got his eye on what is going on with inflation. He has not got his eye on what is going on with productivity. He has not got his eye on anything. He has one plan. It is a plan for the Leader of the Opposition—a question of when. Put him out of his misery and take him out.

The SPEAKER —Order! The Treasurer will put down the sign he is holding up.