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Tuesday, 18 June 2013
Page: 6073

Economy


Mr GEORGANAS (HindmarshSecond Deputy Speaker) (14:36): My question is to the Treasurer. Will the Treasurer update the House on how Australia's economy has remained strong, despite difficult global economic conditions? How will the government's investments in a smarter and fairer Australia make our economy stronger and more competitive into the future?


Mr SWAN (LilleyDeputy Prime Minister and Treasurer) (14:36): I thank the member for Hindmarsh for that question because Australia has a world-beating combination of economic strengths. Everybody on this side of the House is very proud of Australia's achievements over the past five years—solid growth. We are 14 per cent larger than we were at the end of 2007. We have low unemployment and nearly one million jobs have been created in our time in office. We also have low and responsible levels of debt, which are in fact a very important buffer against global uncertainty. And of course, as the Prime Minister said before, we have the AAA credit rating from the three major global rating agencies, with a stable outlook, and that is not something that occurred at any stage in the 12 years that those opposite were in power. We have got to this point because, at every stage over those five years, we have put jobs and growth first. We have got the big economic decisions right, and the consequence of that is that strong set of economic outcomes, which are providing resilience in the Australian economy.

For those that want to talk our economy down, it is worthwhile looking at the Reserve Bank minutes that have been published today, because they still point to modest growth in non-mining investment. Of course, we know—and we see this again in the Reserve Bank board minutes today—that mining investment will stay at very high levels for some time to come. They also point to the strong growth in commodity exports, which is also important, and they also point to historic low interest rates and the stimulus that that is providing, particularly to the housing sector.

But you never see that acknowledged by those opposite, who come into this House day after day and trash-talk our economy. It is deeply, deeply irresponsible, because we have an economy which is in transition: in transition from mining sources of growth to non-mining sources of growth and in transition from mining investment to mining production. In the middle of that, we have continuing global uncertainty. That is why it is so important to continue to get the big calls right, as we have done in terms of our fiscal policy: slowing down the return to surplus to support jobs and growth; giving the Reserve Bank maximum room to adjust monetary policy, which they are doing; and making the big investments for the future—the big investments that make our economy stronger by investing in education, smart investments that build stronger communities. That is what this government is all about. We understand that tomorrow's prosperity is built today, and investing in education is the most fundamental thing that you can do to lift productivity in your economy for the longer term, which is why it is so tragic to see those on the other side of the House side with the conservative premiers to oppose the school improvement program. Nothing—nothing—could be more important to the long-term economic and social interests of this country than investment in education, and those opposite, in opposing these reforms, show how unqualified they are for high office.