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Wednesday, 3 June 2009
Page: 5460

Mr HOCKEY (2:44 PM) —My question is to the Treasurer. I refer to the Prime Minister’s answer a little earlier when he said, ‘You should not let the free market rip.’ Isn’t it the case, Treasurer, that the free market has delivered a massive surge in net exports which added 2.2 per cent to GDP, the largest contribution to quarterly GDP on record?

Mr SWAN (Treasurer) —Sometimes you do not know where to start with this mob. This is just more voodoo economics from those opposite, who want to deny the undeniable. Let us just go through it very, very simply, because today’s results would not have been possible without economic stimulus. It is the case—and it is demonstrated in the figures today—that the growth that is there has been pushed by very strong consumption. And where did that strong household consumption come from, if not from the economic stimulus and the cash payments to pensioners, to families and so on?

Mr Irons —What about exports?

Mr SWAN —I will come to exports. But you simply cannot deny the undeniable, because it is there in the figures. That is why I say it is just more voodoo economics. The Treasury estimates that if we had not had the economic stimulus we would have been looking at a contraction in the quarter, and it follows from the figures. So those opposite will try and find any other figure they possibly can to deny the undeniable. It has just got to this absurd level where they are so economically illiterate, they are so politically desperate and they are so negative that they come into the House and deny the undeniable.

It is true that export volumes are holding up, and that is welcome news. It is also true that one of the reasons that yesterday’s accounts were so good is that there has been a spectacular drop in imports, which in fact reflects the whole global recession, which those opposite do not concede exists and will not even concede is having a dramatic impact on our economy. So none of the propositions that they are putting forward in this House actually add up, because they are so politically desperate to somehow deny the undeniable—that economic stimulus has had a strong impact on household consumption. And why is that the case? I think it is the case because of the number of absurd statements that those opposite have been making in recent months. Listen to this from the Leader of the Opposition in a speech on 19 May this year. This is what he said with regard to economic stimulus:

… it didn’t create a single job …

Get that:

… it didn’t create a single job …

Well, tell that to the people working in retail. Tell that to all the people down the supply chain. Tell that to the farmers at the farm gate. It most certainly created more than a single job and it supported a lot more. It supported a lot more jobs elsewhere in the economy. But that is what he said:

… it didn’t create a single job, didn’t create any opportunities, didn’t leave anything behind other than increasing government debt …

Let us deal with this. I will tell you what it left behind: more people employed, less cost to the Commonwealth, less social misery, a more cohesive community, good payments to pensioners who needed it. That is what it left behind. It left behind a better Australia. It left behind a better Australia, where we looked after our families who were threatened by unemployment. We gave them support in their communities because we understand the importance of employment.

We also understand, more than those on that side of the House, how important demand is, particularly to small business. Small business understands how important our economic stimulus and our payments to pensioners, carers and families have been. They absolutely understand it. If you were to walk into any shop in this country and talk to small business owners, they would acknowledge it. That is why the major representative business organisations in this country acknowledge it. That is why most of the economists reporting today have been acknowledging it—the Prime Minister was reading from a selection of them before. But this is all about those opposite denying the undeniable because they are desperate.

We had a flicker of honesty for a moment this morning from the shadow Treasurer. He was on Steve Price’s program and he was asked:

So you’re saying no job has been saved or protected by government policy?


Well, Steve, of course there have been jobs, and of course there have been a lot of jobs.

He went on to say:

I mean, that’s a no-brainer.

You are dead right; it is a no-brainer. It is just one that your frontbench and Leader of the Opposition do not understand, because for them dealing with this global recession is just another cheap political game, when what is at stake here are the lives, the lifestyles, of tens of thousands of people out there and their families, working families, small businesses and the cohesiveness of our community. We are proud of what we have done. We have got a hard road ahead, a rocky road ahead, but we will continue to do the right thing by this community.