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Monday, 21 May 2012
Page: 4714


Mr HAYES (Fowler) (11:51): I congratulate the member for Petrie for bringing this matter before us. I notice that all those who have spoken from the opposite side of the chamber have failed to mention anything today about the OECD, the International Monetary Fund, the UN Human Development Index or any of those things which were embodied in the motion. Not once do you hear those opposite—the naysayers over there—saying anything in this place about the global financial crisis.

When you think about it, we had the worst economic shock in over 60 years, and what we saw was many countries—particularly in Europe and America—suffering, and still suffering as they come through the worst of the global financial crisis. Recall, when that occurred in 2008, the position of those occupying the shadow Treasury benches opposite. Their position at that stage was, 'Wait and see how bad it gets.' That is all they could offer to the economic debate in this country.

The International Monetary Fund is a reputable organisation that ranks Australia's performance in coming through the global financial shocks imposed by the global financial crisis as one of the best economies in the world. The Leader of the Opposition, when he travelled over to London, claimed that this country has serious bragging rights when it comes to our economic performance resulting from the handling of the economy. In contrast with that, all those opposite could offer was, 'Wait and see.'

Based on other countries over there—and we read on a daily basis what is occurring in the European nations, whether they be Ireland, Greece, Spain or Italy—the average unemployment rate in the European countries is 10.5 per cent. The growth rate is effectively zero. Compare that with what we have here in this country: we have a 4.9 per cent unemployment rate and we have positive growth. As a matter of fact, since the global financial crisis, our economy has increased by a further seven per cent. That is why the Leader of the Opposition can be confident, when he goes to London, in saying that this economy has serious bragging rights.

This country has an economy that is $1.4 billion strong. For the first time last year we were recognised for this economic management. The economy has a AAA credit rating from each of the three major rating agencies. We do not hear that being said too often over the other side. They cannot claim that because it has never occurred before in Australia's history.

Whilst adjustments needed to be made when coming through the economic crisis that required decisive management—and that is what I say occurred—they were not made at the expense of investing in schools and education and regional development. I am happy that in coming through the global financial crisis we doubled our commitment to education in this country.

As regards the schoolkids bonus, in the short time I have available I note that in the last couple of months in many areas in my electorate—which is predominantly Asian—many people who are entitled to the education tax refund did not apply because they understood they were not entitled. They did not have jobs and they did not pay tax; therefore their children were missing out. We also discovered that in excess of 10 per cent of families that are eligible for the education tax refund missed out over the last two years.

So in coming through the global financial crisis we have, like Mr Abbott indicates, serious bragging rights, and I encourage some of those opposite to read some of the international statistics when it comes down to— (Time expired)