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Tuesday, 26 May 2009
Page: 4265

Mr CRAIG THOMSON (2:40 PM) —My question is to the Treasurer. Will the Treasurer outline for the House the reactions from industry and market economists to the budget’s emphasis on nation-building infrastructure?

Mr SWAN (Treasurer) —I thank the member for Dobell for his question. There are something like 74 projects underway in Dobell, including 54 school projects. Isn’t that tremendous? It certainly has the support of this side of the House. These projects are supporting jobs and small businesses on the Central Coast of New South Wales. They are a central part of our nation-building plans for recovery. If those opposite had their way, not one of those 74 projects would ever see the light of day.

What we see in these projects is economic stimulus in action, supporting jobs in local communities and small business in local communities and making up for the fact that private demand has withdrawn. That is what economic stimulus is all about. And that is what the budget has been about—phase 3 of economic stimulus. Phase 1 last year gave cash to cash-constrained consumers to boost demand and employment, particularly in retail. Phase 2 was in February—our nation-building plans for investment in schools, investment in energy efficiency and investment in social housing. It was economic stimulus for jobs in action. It was nation building for recovery. That is why this program has had the support of the business community. I quote from Peter Anderson, the Chief Executive of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, who said:

The investment is overdue and will contribute to a more efficient and competitive economy when the recovery arrives.

That is what he had to say about the nation-building investment in infrastructure in the recent budget. Heather Ridout, the CEO of the Australian Industry Group, said, ‘This spending on infrastructure will be directly supportive of jobs.’ Trevor Martyn of the Australian Trucking Association said:

Australia’s truck drivers will be using the roads funded in tonight’s Budget for many years into the future. Our journeys will be safer and faster, with lower transport costs for businesses …

The endorsement from the business community goes on, because they recognise the importance of economic stimulus. Those opposite do not. We know they do not have an alternative budget plan or fiscal policy. We heard nothing about it in the Leader of the Opposition’s reply. They do not want to admit that they would not borrow one cent less or pay debt back one day earlier. They will not admit that because they want to go around the country and campaign against economic stimulus that creates jobs now and into the future. They cannot bring themselves to support this vital investment in our community. But I certainly take great heart from the fact that Australians, right across this country, understand the importance of economic stimulus and understand the importance of economic stimulus in local communities. That is why governments borrow and that is why they borrow responsibly—to support jobs and to leave a lasting legacy for the nation. That is what this government has done and that is what those opposite are opposing.