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Wednesday, 4 February 2009
Page: 245

Mr KEENAN (2:54 PM) —My question is to the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Minister for Education and Minister for Social Inclusion. I refer the Deputy Prime Minister to yesterday’s updated economic outlook, which forecasts a loss of 300,000 Australian jobs. How can the Deputy Prime Minister reconcile that loss of jobs with the government’s claims that its recent spending packages will create or support 330,000 jobs?

Ms GILLARD (Minister for Education, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and Minister for Social Inclusion) —I thank the shadow minister for his question. The answer to the shadow minister’s question is in fact obvious. The government is engaged in the economic security strategy in this Nation Building and Jobs Plan to promote economic activity and to support jobs. As the Prime Minister has said on more than one occasion, we are in difficult times. But what we can certainly say about the economic security statement and about this Nation Building and Jobs Plan is that it will support economic growth and consequently support jobs. Whilst we are in difficult economic times, clearly the nation will be in a better position with this stimulus in our economy than if the nation followed the lead of the Leader of the Opposition and the members of the Liberal Party, who have taken a conscious decision today to come into this parliament and to vote for higher unemployment—to come into this parliament and vote against nation-building propositions, including the biggest historic spend on our schools in this nation’s history. That is what the Liberal Party have chosen to do.

The Treasurer, during the course of question time, has taken the Liberal Party to the evidence from the retail trade figures about the difference that the Economic Security Strategy made. If members of the Liberal Party are so economically naive, so economically incompetent that they cannot reason from those figures into understanding that stimulus packages make a difference to economic activity and stimulus packages consequently make a difference to and support jobs, then really I do wonder what hope there is for them. I would have to say to the Leader of the Opposition that, if he cannot explain that basic economics to his frontbench, one does wonder what skills you need to be a merchant banker.