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Tuesday, 2 February 2016
Page: 49


Mrs GRIGGS (Solomon) (14:49): My question is to the Treasurer. Will the Treasurer please update the House on how Australia is successfully transitioning from the mining investment boom to a more diversified economy? Is the Treasurer aware of any alternative plans that would damage the national budget and hinder efforts to grow the economy and jobs?

Mr MORRISON (CookTreasurer) (14:49): I thank the member for Solomon for her question. In our country's north, she is well aware of the great opportunities that we have in this country to continue to grow our economy and support jobs and growth going forward. As the Prime Minister said, these are exciting times but they are also uncertain times globally. At times like this we need to acknowledge and understand that and frame our policies to ensure that we can give Australians continued confidence in the growth and jobs of the future.

Our economy is transitioning and that is good news. Despite the very serious global headwinds our economy is transitioning. And it is Australians out there who are making that transition—from the investment phase of the mining boom to the more broad and more diversified economy. It is Australians who are doing it every day, and that is why this government is so focused on trying to back those Australians who are making those decisions every day—working, saving and investing.

That transition story is backed up today by comments by the Reserve Bank Governor, who said in his announcement on rates today:

In Australia, the available information suggests that the expansion in the non-mining parts of the economy strengthened during 2015 even as the contraction in spending in mining investment continued. Surveys of business conditions moved to above average levels, employment growth picked up and the unemployment rate declined in the second half of the year, even though measured GDP growth was below average. The pace of lending to businesses also picked up.

Last year there were almost 300,000 jobs created and retail sales were up. What we are seeing is an Australian economy that is growing at twice the rate of comparable economies such as Canada, which also has a commodities base. So despite those headwinds our economy is moving forward and transitioning.

Prior to the end of last year, we released a mid-year statement. In that mid-year statement, we released a very sober and honest assessment that growth will continue into the future but it will be a difficult challenge as we go forward. And we had sensible budget forecasts that realised growth will continue but, at the same time, to ensure the integrity of the budget we need to continue to get expenditure under control. And over the forward estimates expenditure is falling as a percentage of GDP from 25.9 per cent to 25.3 per cent.

You need to continue to control expenditure to keep the budget on the right path. Those opposite do not want to go down that path. What they want to do is tax higher to spend more. You cannot have lower taxes in this country if you want to spend more. The best guarantee against higher taxes is lower spending and, in these uncertain financial times globally, now is not the time to go down the tax, spend and borrow path that those opposite excelled at while in government and wish to bring back to the treasury bench.

Mr Dreyfus interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Isaacs is warned!

Mr MORRISON: This government will focus on controlling expenditure and supporting growth and jobs.