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Tuesday, 16 June 2009
Page: 6077

Mr HALE (2:18 PM) —My question is to the Treasurer. Will the Treasurer outline for the House any recent evidence that the Rudd government’s efforts to stimulate the economy and support jobs are working?

Mr SWAN (Treasurer) —I thank the member for Solomon for his question. There are something like 299 projects underway in Solomon as a result of the government’s nation building for recovery plan. This includes something like 185 defence housing units and 92 school projects in Darwin and surrounding areas. The member for Solomon has been a very strong advocate for every one of those projects, unlike those opposite, who are just so negative all of the time. They are of course opposed to every single one of them. The member for Solomon will at least stand up for jobs in his community. He will put his hand up for jobs in his community, unlike those opposite.

There has been some evidence over the past week that does show that the economic stimulus has been working to support jobs in our community. Last week we saw that house finance rose 3.6 per cent in April and is now 13.4 per cent higher over the year. Housing finance to owner-occupiers rose for the seventh month in a row in April, having fallen in each of the eight months prior to the announcement of the government’s first home owners boost. Loans to first home buyers are at record levels, representing 28 per cent of new loans which are financed. This has caused Mr Chris Lamont from the Housing Industry Association to remark: ‘Were it not for the first home owners boost a lot more people in the building industry would be out of work.’ That is certainly so true.

Of course, last week we had the consumer confidence figures, where the country recorded the largest increase in 22 years—at its highest level since January 2008. Consumer confidence is now more than 20 per cent above the levels of last October. As Bill Evans observed last week:

… this surge in the Index can be seen as a delayed response to the significant stimulus over the last nine months.

Business confidence rose sharply in May, causing Alan Oster from the National Australia Bank to say this:

The improvement in confidence has developed more momentum—no doubt helped locally by the budget …

He went on to say that ‘to date the one-off government payments to low-income families and pensioners in December, the significant easing in financial conditions and the government’s tax bonus payments have helped retail, which has performed well above the industry average’.

That brings us to the RBA minutes which have been released today. This is what the RBA minutes say:

Monetary policy had been eased significantly, and budgetary measures were also providing significant support to demand. Indications were that these policies were having some impact, though the full effects would take time yet to be seen.

So there is a positive strategy from the government. There is ample evidence that it is working. There is a rocky road ahead but what we on this side of the House know is that we are doing everything we can to support families, jobs and business.