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Tuesday, 3 February 2009
Page: 38


Senator CASH (3:16 PM) —Senator Bernardi asked a very simple but important question in question time today: how many jobs were created as a result of the government’s first stimulus package? Had any jobs been created the answer would have been a very simple one, but what do we have? We have the minister standing there for two minutes rambling on about how the stimulus package had protected jobs. In other words, no new jobs were created. And I hasten to tell the minister that there is a big difference between protecting jobs and creating jobs, especially when the Prime Minister of Australia told the people of Australia last year that the first stimulus package would add 75,000 jobs. It does not auger well for Labor’s second stimulus package. Actions speak louder than words. How things have changed.

After only 14 months of Rudd and Labor, Australia is less prosperous, our economy is rapidly getting weaker and the outlook for Australian families is more uncertain than ever. The Rudd government are not measuring up. All we hear from Mr Rudd is blame-shifting. They tell us that jobs are being lost due to the global financial crisis and, most recently in Mr Rudd’s latest essay, the neoliberal policy of wave after wave of tax cuts. Since when have tax cuts been bad for the economy? Of course there is a global financial crisis; we all acknowledge that. However, it is the gross mismanagement by the Labor government and their policy approach to the global financial crisis that have resulted in the Australian economy being where it is today.

On this side of the chamber we advocate that every element of government policy should be focused on effective measures which will ensure that employment in Australia remains high, not focused on measures that will result in jobs being lost. On this side we believe in policies that will create jobs, not destroy jobs. However, despite the current economic environment, the Labor Party continues to introduce policies that are irresponsible and will result in job losses, despite its rhetoric about the creation of jobs.

Those opposite are ignoring the lessons of incompetent past Labor governments. You cannot spend your way out of trouble. You are introducing policies that will do long-term harm to Australia and Australians. Look at your approach to industrial relations; look at your approach to an emissions trading scheme—they are policies that will result in job losses. In fact it was farcical to hear the Prime Minister, today, say, ‘It would take my breath away for the government to consider new taxes during a time of economic crisis.’ Has he conveniently forgotten his plan to slug Australians with one of the biggest new taxes we have ever seen—the ETS? The coalition is committed to one of the most important objectives of economic management in ensuring that every Australian has the opportunity to work, which is a fundamental responsibility of responsible government.

Let me say it slowly again for those on the other side of the chamber, who do not seem able to grasp the most basic filter against which all policies need to be implemented: jobs, jobs, jobs. And I mean job creation, not job losses. What are those on the other side committed to? We all know; we experienced it last year—spin over substance. Australia was in a position of strength at the outset of the global financial crisis thanks to the sound economic management of the former Howard government and Peter Costello. What do we have now? You on the other side have destroyed the Australian economy. It is not an achievement to be proud of. I will quote your Prime Minister on Sky News today:

… nobody likes being in deficit.

And I don’t like being in deficit at all …

This is not a question of choice. This is what we are required to do.

Just remember, Mr Rudd, this is your deficit—it is of your own making and because of your mismanagement of the economy. Stop blaming the global financial crisis, start taking responsibility and start creating policies that create jobs, not destroy them. (Time expired)