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Thursday, 6 March 2014
Page: 1897

Economy


Mr GOODENOUGH (Moore) (14:02): My question is to the Prime Minister. Will the Prime Minister update the House on progress in delivering the government's plan for a stronger and more prosperous economy?


Mr ABBOTT (WarringahPrime Minister) (14:02): I thank the member for Moore for his question. While obviously there is a long way to go, there are significant positive signs. Yesterday the statistician showed that growth was slightly above market expectations. Confidence is up, export volumes are up strongly and housing starts are up strongly. The news today is that retail sales were up 1.2 per cent in January. That is a very strong result that gives us the strongest year-to-year retail figures in almost five years.

But there is so much more to do and it is the task of government to get the fundamentals right. That means getting taxes down, getting red tape down, getting productivity up and building the infrastructure that our businesses need, because if we can do all that there will be more jobs and more prosperity for all Australians, including the people of Moore. It all starts with repealing the carbon tax, and it is worth reminding the House of what the leaders of the four biggest business groups in Australia said yesterday:

Australia’s carbon tax is one of the highest in the world.

This is the important statement:

It is making our key industries less competitive every day it stays in place.

Every day it stays in place, it is making our key industries less competitive. They go on:

For small business especially, this has been a major burden that has reduced profitability, suppressed employment and added to already difficult conditions.

But it is not just about the carbon tax. It is also about trade. Our plan is about free trade, because trade means jobs and free trade means more jobs. I congratulate the Minister for Trade and Investment on successfully concluding negotiations for a free trade agreement with Korea. I welcome the statement yesterday from China's Premier Li that negotiations for a China-Australia free trade agreement will be accelerated—more good news on the trade front.

But today the House of Representatives has taken a big step towards liberating Qantas from the shackles under which it operates, towards establishing a genuinely level playing field for Qantas, towards enabling Qantas to compete with its rivals on a fair basis. All this demonstrates that this is a government which is serious about supporting businesses and the workers of our country.