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Tuesday, 3 February 2009
Page: 37

Ms JULIE BISHOP (4:41 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer the Prime Minister to his statement the day before the last election when he described himself as an economic conservative and said:

Economic conservative means a fundamental belief in budget surpluses. And you go back to my experience in this respect. I worked at a senior level in the Goss government in Queensland in the first half of the 90s.

When national economic circumstances were difficult, when there wasn’t a lot of money flowing into the economy particularly, there wasn’t the presence of a global resources boom, and budget after budget, we produced budget surpluses.

Does the Prime Minister now regret saying that to the Australian people?

Mr RUDD (Prime Minister) —The correct response by an economic conservative is this: in the presence of a virtually unprecedented global economic recession, the government must act and intervene. That is opposed to the radical approach advocated by the Leader of the Opposition, which is to let the free market run loose. That is what he said. Earlier in today’s debate he made reference to the Australian Business Investment Partnership. It is the government’s resolve to intervene in the private commercial property market to avoid an asset-stripping exercise which would be engaged in by hedge funds of the type that we have seen causing so much of the mayhem in recent times.

Our government says intervene. The Leader of the Opposition says, ‘Let the free market rip.’ I suggest to those opposite that if they continue to embrace this ideology of unrestrained greed, which has been supported and encouraged by unfettered markets around the world, including in financial and property markets, they should learn from history. This government believes that a proper approach of economic conservatism lies in the government intervening where the private market has failed in order to provide stimulus when there has been a contraction in private demand. That is the mainstream economic conservative approach and it is one of which this government is proud.