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Thursday, 15 September 2011
Page: 10335


Mr HAYES (Fowler) (14:43): My question is to the Treasurer. Will the Treasurer outline to the House the importance of responsible economic and fiscal management for the creation of jobs.

Mr SWAN (LilleyDeputy Prime Minister and Treasurer) (14:43): I thank the member for Fowler for his very important question, because it is three years ago today to the very day that we saw the collapse of Lehmann Brothers, which sent shock waves right through global financial markets. On that day the world did look into an economic abyss that eventually became the global financial crisis and the global recession. What followed that was an enormous amount of instability in the global economy and a collapse in global demand. What that led to was the worst recession globally in 75 years. Given the magnitude of all these events, it is perhaps not surprising that the world is still living with the aftershocks of the global financial crisis and the global recession. We can see this in very slow growth rates in Europe and in the United States and we can see it in the really high levels of long-term unemployment right across so many advanced economies; and, of course, we can still see it today in the instability in global financial markets. But the thing that is very pleasing for our country is that we are uniquely placed: we are in a position of fundamental strength in the middle of this uncertainty and turbulence elsewhere in the global economy. Our economy is stronger than our peers because we as a government took the hard decisions. We as a government got the big economic calls right in this parliament, particularly at the end of 2008 and through early 2009. The consequence of that for this country is that we did not experience the capital destruction, the skills destruction and the high unemployment that plagued so many other developed economies. We did that because we worked together and because this parliament passed not just one but two sensible stimulus packages. The consequence of that has been an economic strength in this country unlike that of our peers. In particular you can see it in terms of unemployment. Unemployment in this country is far lower than that in the United States. When the world went into the global financial crisis the unemployment rate in the United States and Australia was the same. It is almost twice that now in the United States.

So we have an exceptional record in terms of supporting employment, including nearly three-quarters of a million jobs in this country over the past four years—a very strong record of employment creation and, as we saw from the national accounts, a strong investment pipeline, solid consumption and very good income growth. These are all very good indicators which tell us about the underlying resilience of our economy, but, of course, there are parts of the economy that are doing it tough. That is why we need to put in place a fundamental reform program to assist people across the economy. We can see that those sectors of the economy that are affected by a high dollar are doing it tough. That is one of the reasons why we need the MRRT and the revenue from that to give a tax cut to 2.7 million small businesses—the instant asset write-off worth $6,500 to assist those struggling small businesses. That is why we do need to invest in infrastructure. That is why we need to build the NBN. That is why we need to boost our national savings by building up superannuation.

All of this is based on a very strict, clear and consistent fiscal policy. That is the rock that the resilience of our economy comes from. That is an objective which is not shared by those opposite. In terms of the Parliamentary Budget Office, which we need for transparency to indicate who is serious about strong fiscal policy, we have found out that those opposite want to hide this from the public—

The SPEAKER: The Treasurer will resume his seat. Has the Treasurer concluded?

Mr Pyne: Mr Speaker, the Treasurer should have taken your hint. On a point of order, it could not possibly be relevant to the question he was asked to attack the opposition. Under the ruling—

The SPEAKER: The Treasurer will avoid unduly arguing the response and will avoid debating a matter before the House, not on the basis that it is before the House but on the basis that it should not be debated further.

Mr SWAN: For all of the reasons that I have outlined in the House, we support the Parliamentary Budget Office. We support the recommendation of the joint committee, which was supported by those opposite and is now opposed by them. (Time expired)

Mr Hockey: You screwed it up.

The SPEAKER: Order!

Mr Mitchell interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for McEwen is warned, but he raises a valid point, regrettably, for the member for North Sydney. The member for North Sydney will leave the chamber for one hour under standing order 94(a).

The member for North Sydney then left the chamber.

The SPEAKER: Having warned the member for McEwen, I apologise for dobbing him in.