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Thursday, 21 June 2012
Page: 7491

Economy


Mr DANBY (Melbourne Ports) (14:07): My question is to the Acting Prime Minister. Will the Acting Prime Minister inform the House of the results of the national census released today? How does this new data highlight the need for strong economic management and strong budget management?


Mr SWAN (LilleyDeputy Prime Minister and Treasurer) (14:08): I thank the member for that question because, amid all the international gloom and negativity that is about, we should never miss an occasion to speak about how fantastic our country is. We do face challenges—no doubt about that—but we should take great pride in what a dynamic, diverse and ambitious country we are.

Today we have the 2011 census out, and it marks 100 years since the first census. Of course, we have seen dramatic changes in our country over that 100 years: in our size, in the shape of our population and in the composition of our households, and, of course, enormous change in our way of life. The census highlights these changes that are underway. I think that what it says is that if we are a competent and ambitious country, we have to deal with change; and when we have dealt with change successfully we have become a stronger country. It has been one of the great success stories in terms of developed economies, the way in which Australian governments and the Australian people have reformed our economy to make it stronger for the future; always looking to the longer term, particularly to putting in place longer term reforms.

Of course, those on the other side of the House resist change all of the time. They go out with their wrecking ball and oppose fundamental changes which have brought great strength to our country. But we on this side of the House embrace change. We understand that reforms are needed to keep ahead of the curve of history. That is why we on this side of the House are referred to as progressives. We believe in progress. Of course, we believe in being drivers, not passengers.

We believe that equity and prosperity in a country and in a society are something that you have to work hard for and fight for. That is why we have put in place fundamental reforms over the years: pricing carbon pollution, reforming mining taxation, reforming aged care, reforming national superannuation and reforming the hospital system. That is why I am so proud that yesterday this parliament passed the budget, not only bringing the budget back to surplus but once again paving the way for fundamental reforms that make our country a better place and reforms which will mean that we stand out in the world. Reforms like the National Disability Insurance Scheme go to the core of the budget. So passing this fair-go budget last night shows that this country is getting on with the job of reform and staying ahead of the curve of history. That is something that we should all celebrate.