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Tuesday, 14 August 2012
Page: 8505

Economy


Ms OWENS (Parramatta) (15:09): My question is to the Treasurer. Will the Treasurer outline for the House what the recent jobs and economic data say about the strength of our economy?


Mr SWAN (LilleyDeputy Prime Minister and Treasurer) (15:09): I thank the member for Parramatta for her question, because in recent weeks we have seen more evidence of the outstanding economic performance of the Australian economy and I know it is something that everybody on this side of the House is very proud of. Last week we saw the jobs data. We saw that our unemployment rate had declined to 5.2 per cent. We saw that 14,000 jobs were added in July. We welcome that, but the Leader of the Opposition could not bring himself to welcome that and he had to talk the economy down yet again. We have also seen that headline inflation and underlying inflation have got to their lowest levels in 13 years. The underlying inflation is now at the bottom of the RBA's target band. We have also seen signs of pretty healthy consumption and we have seen some strong retail sales and volumes—some of the strongest we have seen in the last few years.

So we have had reasonably impressive growth, so much so that our economy is now 10 per cent larger than it was prior to us coming to government. Think about that. When other developed economies around the world have not got back to where they were prior to the start of global financial crisis, our economy is 10 per cent bigger, and you see that reflected in the job creation record that we have had in Australia compared to what is going on in other developed economies around the world. Over 800,000 jobs have been created in the time that this government has been in power. That is something everybody should be proud of, because what it means is that we as a nation have avoided the corrosion that destroys communities that comes with high unemployment. We have avoided the capital destruction to small business that has gone on in so many other developed economies. What it has given us as a country is a resilience and an underlying strength that few other developed economies have.

Of course, we have a record investment pipeline as well and we have a low cash rate. At 3.5 per cent, it is lower than it was at any time under the last Liberal government. What that means is that, if you have a mortgage of, let's say, $300,000, you are paying something like $4,000 a year less than you were when that crew over there were last in power—$4,000 a year less. We have had the Statement on monetary policy from the Reserve Bank, who are now expecting growth this year to be above trend, to have strengthened. They are also forecasting stronger employment growth on the back of increased productivity growth. So we do have challenges in our economy that flow from a higher dollar, from technological change, from a cautious consumer. But we on this side of the House are proud of the gold-medal-winning performance of the Australian economy.