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Tuesday, 28 February 2012
Page: 2037



Ms OWENS (Parramatta) (14:16): My question is to the Treasurer. Will the Treasurer update the House on recent global economic developments? Why do these developments make it critical for Australia to have the right policies to support jobs today and into the future?

Mr SWAN (LilleyDeputy Prime Minister and Treasurer) (14:16): I thank the member for Parramatta for that very important question about the economy, something that those opposite are not interested in at all. Over the weekend my G20 colleagues met in Mexico, in what continues to be a difficult time.

Honourable members interjecting

The SPEAKER: The Treasurer will pause while the House returns to silence so that we can listen to the Treasurer's answer. The Treasurer has the call.

Mr SWAN: It does continue to be a difficult time in the global economy but there have been recent policy decisions put in place in Europe, particularly by the ECB, that have eased pressures in markets. Nevertheless, my G20 colleagues have warned again that there are still challenges in the global economy. We do know that Europe does face a very painful period of adjustment and we also know that unemployment is far too high around the developed world and across the developing world. But, in the face of this, there was a very strong commitment from G20 finance ministers to make jobs, employment and economic growth the No. 1 priority in terms of structural reforms in both developed and developing countries.

From our perspective on this side of the House, whether internationally or here, domestically, jobs are our No. 1 priority, and they have been from day one. Two-hundred thousand jobs would have been lost in this country during the global financial crisis if those on that side of the House had had their way. We on this side of the House understand that the dignity of labour is the lifeblood of every one of the communities that we represent, and we understand that prolonged high unemployment and small business closures are the most devastating things that can happen to any community, whether here or in other developed economies around the world. The values that drive us are to make sure that we support employment to the extent we can, to make our economy grow so that we can supply the jobs of the future.

The one thing that everyone on this side of the House is proudest of is that today there are more Australians employed than at any other time in our history, with an unemployment rate of 5.1 per cent. We are proud of that. Despite the global challenges, our economy walks tall in the world, and the rock on which our economic policy is built is strong fiscal policy. Bringing our budget back to surplus in 2012-13 is absolutely critical. Compare and contrast that with the farce we have seen from those on the other side of the House: a $70 billion crater in their budget bottom line. On Q&A last night we discovered there is a fourth stooge: Senator Joyce, who could not explain to the people of Australia how they were going to bring the budget back to surplus.

Ms Julie Bishop: Mr Speaker, on a point of order, I believe this is the eighth time that the Treasurer has used that word in reference to members of the coalition, in defiance of your ruling. On that basis, I ask that he withdraw.

The SPEAKER: The Treasurer will withdraw that reference to Senator Joyce.

Mr SWAN: Yes, I withdraw that reference to Senator Joyce, Mr Speaker.

The SPEAKER: And then he will resume his seat. Next question.