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Wednesday, 31 August 2016
Page: 220


Senator BUSHBY (TasmaniaChief Government Whip in the Senate) (14:19): My question is to the Minister for Finance, representing the Treasurer, Senator Cormann. Can the minister provide an update on the government's plan for a stronger economy, more jobs and budget repair?

Senator CORMANN (Western AustraliaMinister for Finance and Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:19): I thank Senator Bushby for that question. In this parliament the Turnbull government will work to build on the progress that we have made when it comes to strengthening the economy, creating more jobs and repairing the budget that we made in the last parliament. Today, the Australian economy is growing more strongly than it was when we came into government. It is growing more strongly than any of the G7 economies and, indeed, it is growing more strongly than the OECD average. Employment growth today is stronger—much stronger than what it was when we came into government. I am sure that Senator Cash will have more to say about that over the next few hours and days.

More than 440,000 new jobs were created in our first term of government, including nearly 220,000 over this past year. That is despite the additional pressures on our economy from slower global economic growth and from significantly lower global prices for our key commodity exports. Our economy continues to transition from record resource investment-driven growth to broader drivers of growth, and that comes with challenges for families and businesses in some parts of our economy. We have to continue to work as a government and as a parliament to ensure that Australia is as competitive, as productive, as innovative and as resilient as possible to deal with external shocks and to take advantage of the opportunities that are coming our way.

That is why the government will continue to implement our national economic plan for jobs and growth, with our focus on promoting innovation and supporting start-up businesses to employ more Australians, with our focus on supporting local high-end manufacturing and shipbuilding, with our focus on signing more export trade deals to boost the export of Australian products and services to markets around the world, and, indeed, by implementing our 10-year Enterprise Tax Plan. We will be looking for the support of the parliament to give effect to that very important plan. (Time expired)

The PRESIDENT: Senator Bushby, a supplementary question.

Senator BUSHBY (TasmaniaChief Government Whip in the Senate) (14:21): Why is the timely implementation of the government's plan for jobs and growth and for budget repair so important?

Senator CORMANN (Western AustraliaMinister for Finance and Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:21): A stronger and more prosperous economy with more and better jobs helps families across Australia to get ahead. It gives families across Australia the best possible opportunity to get ahead. Continuing the effort on budget repair is important to ensure that important government services and benefits continue to be affordable, sustainable and available over the long term. It is of course also important to ensure that we maintain our AAA credit rating. If we do not make decisions now as a parliament to improve our budget position, then ratings agencies have made it quite plain that our AAA credit rating would be at risk. Any downgrade would have flow-on consequences on the whole economy, because our AAA credit rating helps us to keep borrowing for businesses and consumers across the economy and it also helps to ensure Australia is in a much stronger position in the event of any future external economic shocks.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Bushby, a final supplementary question.

Senator BUSHBY (TasmaniaChief Government Whip in the Senate) (14:22): Is the minister aware of any alternative policies; and what will be their implications for our economy and for jobs?

Senator CORMANN (Western AustraliaMinister for Finance and Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:22): Yes, I am aware of alternative policy approaches, because Australia of course is still digesting the consequences for our country of the unsustainable and unaffordable spending growth under the previous Labor government. Of course during the election campaign, Labor was at it again: promising more spending, more unfunded spending promises, and even admitting to the Australian people that Labor in government would deliver bigger deficits, higher debt and more taxes—about $16.5 billion in higher deficits, and that is assuming that the omnibus savings bill measures will all be passed.

Now we are getting the wibble-wobble-jelly-on-a-plate approach on the omnibus savings bill. During the campaign, Mr Shorten said he would support all these savings. Now he is not so certain anymore, because no doubt he is under pressure from a section of the Labor Party that is not wanting to let him deliver on the promises on savings that he made to the Australian people. The Australian people expect better than that. (Time expired)