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Wednesday, 10 October 2012
Page: 11818


Mr SYMON (Deakin) (14:06): My question is to the Prime Minister. How is the government working to keep our economy strong for the future and to support working people along the way?

Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (14:06): I thank the member for Deakin for his question. I know that the member for Deakin is very concerned that the people who live in his part of the world get the best of job opportunities and the benefits of a strong economy. He wants to see the people who live in his part of the world able to find work and to make a decent life for themselves and their families. Of course, in order to provide that opportunity, we need to keep the economy strong.

I know Australians are proud of the strength of the Australian economy, and they should be. They should be proud because we built the strength of the Australian economy together. The nation pulled together during the days of the global financial crisis to ensure that we came through that crisis strong, that we kept Australians in work. The IMF has just released its most recent forecast for global growth and it shows that since this government came to office we have become the 12th largest economy in the world, passing South Korea, passing Mexico and passing Spain. This is an achievement for a nation that we should be proud of—the 12th largest economy in the world. This is when our population is not in the top 50 countries in the world. So we are the 12th largest economy and we are not in the top 50 population wise. This is a true achievement for the Australian economy and for the Australian people.

We are one of the few countries that have kept a AAA credit rating. Unemployment and interest rates are low—lower than the average under the Howard government. A family with a $300,000 mortgage is now paying around $4,500 less in repayments than when we came to office, and someone earning $50,000 a year is paying $2,000 less in tax each year. We have created 800,000 jobs since this government came into office, and that is good news.

Whilst we have worked to keep the economy strong, we have also worked to bring decency to working Australians. There is no more important decision than the legislation which came into this parliament today to ensure wage justice for the people, predominantly women, who work in the social and community services sector, whose work has been historically undervalued precisely because they are women, because caring work is viewed to be innately women's work and of lesser value. That is an injustice corrected under this government, and $2.8 billion fully budgeted for and fully accounted for, the subject of legislation today, is reserved to give pay increases to these working Australians, predominantly women. We intend to keep building on this track record of decency and support for working Australians, but this is a red-letter day for the social and community services sector. (Time expired)