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Wednesday, 2 March 2016
Page: 1602

Economy


Senator BUSHBY (TasmaniaChief Government Whip in the Senate) (14:05): My question is to the Minister for Finance and Minister representing the Treasurer. How is the government supporting the transition of the Australian economy from the mining boom to more broad-based growth?


Senator CORMANN (Western AustraliaMinister for Finance, Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate and Special Minister of State) (14:05): Earlier today the national accounts for the December quarter were released, and they again show that Australia continues to successfully manage our transition from the largest resource investment boom in our history to broader-based growth and a secure economic future. We are as a country managing that transition despite global economic headwinds, despite global uncertainty, and of course the result today shows that real GDP in the December quarter grew by 0.6 per cent and by a strong three per cent compared to a year ago, up from a revised 2.7 per cent through the year to September. This is the strongest pace of through-the-year growth since the March quarter of 2014 and is consistent with the strength of job creation in the second half of last year. We are growing faster than every economy in the G7, and we are growing well above the OECD average—we are growing faster than the United States, faster than the United Kingdom, more than twice the pace of Canada, a comparable resource-rich advanced economy, and we are matching growth rates in economies like South Korea.

This has not happened by accident. This government has been working to implement our plan for stronger growth and more jobs. We have been implementing our plan to make our tax system more growth friendly, which involves scrapping Labor's carbon tax and the mining tax, which involves tax cuts for small business, and which involves an ambitious deregulation agenda, taking about $2 billion in costs out of the economy every year. It involves an ambitious innovation agenda, it involves an ambitious infrastructure investment program and it involves an ambitious free trade agenda, and of course in this past week we have added to these with an ambitious media reform agenda, initiated by my friend and colleague Senator Fifield—something that was in the too-hard basket for too long. My good friend and colleague Senator Payne delivered the defence white paper, helping to drive growth and innovation in our national security. (Time expired)


Senator BUSHBY (TasmaniaChief Government Whip in the Senate) (14:07): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. How do the government's policies for a dynamic 21st century economy help to drive growth and create jobs?


Senator CORMANN (Western AustraliaMinister for Finance, Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate and Special Minister of State) (14:07): There was not enough time in the answer to the first question to go through all of the progress that we are making and all of the initiatives that the Turnbull government are pursing to strengthen growth and to create more jobs. I was talking about the outstanding work done by my good friend and colleague the Minister for Defence, Senator Payne, who delivered, with the Prime Minister, last week a historic and fully funded defence white paper, which of course will not only lead to increase the national security for Australia—which is obviously critically important—but also help drive very significant investment and innovation across the defence industries in Australia.

We are continuing to implement the Prime Minister's innovation agenda. We are continuing to pursue free trade opportunities. After the great work of the best trade minister in the history of the Commonwealth in Andrew Robb, we now have Minister Ciobo trying to finalise the deal with India and pursuing opportunities in Europe and other parts of the world. (Time expired)


Senator BUSHBY (TasmaniaChief Government Whip in the Senate) (14:08): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Is the minister aware of any alternatives to the government's approach?


Senator CORMANN (Western AustraliaMinister for Finance, Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate and Special Minister of State) (14:08): The only alternative we are getting from the Labor Party is their 'bad,' 'spend too much,' 'taxed too much', 'borrowed too much' policies. Right now Bill Shorten has made more than $50 billion in unfunded promises, and that is despite all the massive tax increases that he has already announced. That is despite the tax increase he has announced targeting investors in the housing market which will undermine confidence in the housing market because it will drive down property values. We have a Labor opposition led by Mr Shorten which has not learned from the past. They are still at it, spending money they do not have. They are still at it, trying to play catch-up by ramping up taxes. They are still at it, accepting blow-outs in deficits, adding to the deficit moving forward. Of course what they are not telling the Australian people is that ultimately all of that excessive Labor spending would have to be paid for by higher taxes.