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Thursday, 16 February 2012
Page: 1649

Economy


Mr SYMON (Deakin) (14:11): My question is to the Treasurer. Will the Treasurer update the House on today's employment numbers? And how is the government supporting jobs and growth in our economy?


Mr SWAN (LilleyDeputy Prime Minister and Treasurer) (14:11): I thank the member for Deakin for that very important question. On that side they do not care about jobs in Australia. They are out there licking their lips over job losses; that is the problem we have in this House.

Opposition members interjecting

The SPEAKER: When the House comes to order the Treasurer will continue, and I will ask that the clock be started again.

Mr SWAN: Today's job numbers are a very encouraging start to the year. This is particularly so because of the news from Europe we have received overnight. The European economy contracted in the fourth quarter, and some economies went into recession. We know that some companies here are doing it tough because of events in the global economy and because of the high dollar. But just as we should not hold out false optimism, we should never get carried away with false pessimism—and those on that side of the House are continually talking down our economy.

We welcome today's labour force figures. They have shown the creation of 46,000 jobs in January, and we have seen the unemployment rate fall to 5.1 per cent. This is the largest monthly increase in over 12 months, and there are now more Australians in work than at any time in our history. Everyone on this side of the House welcomes that. We celebrate the fact that there are more people in work than in any time of our history—another encouraging start to the year and a really stark contrast to the global turbulence in the international economy on one hand and the strong fundamentals and resilience of the Australian economy on the other. We on this side of the House put jobs as our No. 1 priority. If those people on the other side had had their way during the global financial crisis Australia would have gone into recession and tens of thousands of small businesses would have closed. But because we are so concerned with jobs we put in place the most effective response to the global recession of any developed economy in the world, and the outcome of that is 760,000 jobs over the past year.

Here, the fundamentals are good. Unemployment remains low, we have solid growth, we have contained inflation, we have strong public finances and we have record investment. What that can bring to the Australian community is the security they crave from having a job in an economy that is growing, unlike any other developed economy. So these figures are welcomed. The only part of the country that does not welcome them is the people on the other side of the House.

There was a disgraceful performance from the Leader of the Opposition this morning. He was out there on the doors, licking his lips at job losses. That is how far they have taken negativity in the economic debate in this country. The Three Stooges saga of their economic team—

The SPEAKER: Does the member for North Sydney wish to raise a point of order?

Mr Hockey: May I say something on indulgence?

The SPEAKER: You can have a little bit of indulgence.

Mr Hockey: I am offering support to the Treasurer for his support for good jobs figures. But they would be much better without a carbon tax.

The SPEAKER: Indulgence is withdrawn.