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Wednesday, 21 September 2011
Page: 6693

Economy


Senator CAMERON (New South Wales) (14:41): Having survived the death stare unscathed, I have a question for the Minister for Small Business, Senator Sherry. In light of the IMF's latest World economic outlook and its stark warnings, can the minister outline to the Senate how Australia is placed to withstand a possible second global recession? What policies and measures does the government have in place to help Australia again avoid a recession should the worst happen?


Senator SHERRY (TasmaniaMinister Assisting on Deregulation and Public Sector Superannuation, Minister for Small Business and Minister Assisting the Minister for Tourism) (14:42): Four days ago it was the third anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers—that was the real death stare. Our decisive and strong actions to introduce stimulus measures protected the Australian economy—

Opposition senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Senator Sherry, resume your seat. Order! When there is silence we will proceed.

Senator Fifield interjecting

Senator Conroy interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Senators Fifield and Conroy, I am waiting to give the minister the call. The minister.

Senator SHERRY: Our rapid and decisive stimulus measures protected the Australian economy from the worst effects of the global financial crisis, and we avoided recession.

Senator Abetz interjecting

Senator SHERRY: I well remember—Senator Abetz is interjecting—the predictions of those on the other side, who opposed our stimulus measures. Mr Abbott, the opposition leader, predicted we could not protect the Australian economy from recession. Mr Hockey, the so-called shadow Treasurer—he would win an award for the worst shadow Treasurer in the world—predicted a million unemployed. That is what you predicted, and that is what we prevented. We prevented a million unemployed, and we kept this economy sheltered and protected by our effective stimulus measures.

Unfortunately, the IMF has pointed out that the world economy is again on the brink and, obviously, we are not immune from those impacts. The IMF's forecasts confirm that despite the Australian economy being strong—we do have strong fundamentals—we will be impacted by events occurring in North America and Europe

But we are better placed than any other advanced economy. We have an unemployment rate that is half that of the United States and Europe.

Opposition senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order! Senator Sherry, just resume your seat. I need silence so that I can hear the answer.

Senator SHERRY: We have an unemployment rate that is half that of other advanced economies. We have a significant pipeline of mining investment—some $430 billion—with a mining tax that the opposition have pledged not only to oppose but to reverse. They will reverse $11 billion in tax that the mining industry wants to pay. (Time expired)








Senator CAMERON (New South Wales) (14:45): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Can the minister outline how the government will help protect the jobs of Australians in the event of another world economic downturn?


Senator SHERRY (TasmaniaMinister Assisting on Deregulation and Public Sector Superannuation, Minister for Small Business and Minister Assisting the Minister for Tourism) (14:45): One of the great strengths of the Australian economy is our super­annuation savings pool, which again, I would remind people here, the Liberal-National Party opposed. They opposed the creation of a $1.4 billion superannuation savings pool.

A government senator: Shame!

Senator SHERRY: It is a shame, and they are still on that course because they are going to reverse the mining tax and increase the contributions tax on Australians as a consequence.

Senator Abetz interjecting

Senator SHERRY: You should check out Mr Hockey's statements on Sunday, Senator Abetz. The Liberal Party is going to reverse the mining tax and, as a conse­quence, it will have to increase the contri­butions tax on superannuation and it will have to increase taxes on small business. We heard dire predictions. I recall the debate. We were going to have mass unemployment. The economy would be floored when compulsory superannuation was introduced. And what happened? It made the economy strong. And who opposed it? The Liberal Party. (Time expired)




Senator CAMERON (New South Wales) (14:47): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Is the minister aware of any dangers on the horizon for the Australian economy and for the Gillard government's responsible policies to create jobs for all Australians?


Senator SHERRY (TasmaniaMinister Assisting on Deregulation and Public Sector Superannuation, Minister for Small Business and Minister Assisting the Minister for Tourism) (14:47): The shadow Treasurer, Mr Hockey, has confessed that they have a $70 billion black hole.

Senator Cormann: No, he hasn't. That's not true.

Senator SHERRY: Well, Mr Hockey has confessed. That is what they have to find. They have to find $70 billion. Fortu­nately, due to this Labor government and their effective economic management, we have—and the IMF acknowledged this—one of the lowest levels of government debt amongst all advanced economies. But to add to the problems, to add to the risk to the Australian economy, the Liberal-National Party have pledged to reverse the carbon tax. But as a consequence they are going to have to reduce age pensions. They are going to have to increase income taxes. If they ever get the chance and they want to give that $11 million in mining tax back to the mining companies, which actually want to pay, they are going to have to increase the contribu­tions tax on superannuation of $3½ million. (Time expired)