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Wednesday, 13 February 2013
Page: 1184

Global Economy


Ms ROWLAND (Greenway) (14:05): My question is to the Prime Minister. The President of the United States has today outlined the approach he is taking to challenges facing both the global and United States economies. How is the Australian government working with both the United States and our global partners to tackle shared challenges and realise our shared ambitions for the prosperity of people?


Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (14:06): I thank the member for Greenway for her question. I thank her for her deep interest and very vocal expression of the needs and desires of her constituents. Key to her constituents' making a life is the Australian economy and, indeed, the global economy's offer to them of the opportunity that comes with a job or the opportunity that comes with being able to create your own small business should you choose to do so.

President Obama has just been delivering his fifth State of the Union address. President Obama, in that address, like leaders around the world, was focused on a strategy for jobs and growth in his nation. As I have said in the parliament this week, you cannot say that you are engaged in the public policy debates that matter in our world today unless you fully understand the causes and consequences of the global financial crisis.

You cannot be viewed as a sophisticated participant in any debate about jobs and growth unless you are focused on that. The global financial crisis hit around the world; it hit here in Australia, and it particularly hit acutely in the United States. That means that around the world, nations—including our own—face challenges with ensuring that there are jobs and growth, and as a government we are very focused in meeting those challenges. Unlike President Obama and our friends in the United States of America, we come to addressing these challenges standing on a foundation of strength. Unlike the United States, we did not have a recession in this country. Unlike the United States, we were able to act in a timely way to support and protect jobs as we supported and protected 200,000 of them. Unlike the United States, we are here with growth, with low inflation, with low interest rates, with strong public finances. Unlike the United States, we can therefore build for the future and jobs and growth standing on that platform of strength coming out of the global financial crisis.

In his own nation, President Obama still confronts the spectre of 12 million unemployed people; that is the same size of the entire Australian labour market. He therefore has a challenge that is different to ours, but in his address today to the State of the Union it is abundantly clear that his focus is on jobs and growth. That is good for the global economy and it is good for our economy. Our focus domestically, standing on a platform of strength, is for jobs and growth and opportunity for Australians for the future.


Ms ROWLAND (Greenway) (14:09): Madam Speaker, I have a supplementary question. The Prime Minister has outlined the plan the President is taking to restore growth to the United States economy. How is the Australian government working to keep our economy strong?


Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (14:09): Unsurprisingly, given we come from sister political parties, when you look at the President's State of the Union address, there are many words and many phrases and aspirations that ring true and dear for Labor Party members, including governing for the many not the few, including making sure that the doors of opportunity are open to every child. That is President Obama's ambition for his nation, that is an ambition for our nation too, and it has been a driving force of the work of this government and continues to be so.

What that means is that you need to answer some complicated questions, and President Obama outlined for his nation questions we too are engaged in answering today. How do we attract more jobs to our shores? How do we equip our people with the skills to get those jobs? How do we make sure that there is the prospect for Australians that hard work can lead to a decent living? In answering all of these questions you have got to make sure that you have plans not platitudes. You have got to make sure that you are focused on growth not stagnation. You have got to have a plan for jobs, not a plan for cuts. This government is focused on growth, on the opportunities of the future, things that are viewed as humorous by those opposite because they have not been able to focus on jobs and growth. (Time expired)