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Monday, 26 November 2012
Page: 13143


Mrs D'ATH (Petrie) (14:23): My question is to the Treasurer. Will the Treasurer update the House on the International Monetary Fund's latest annual assessment of Australia? What does this say about the resilience of our economy?

Mr SWAN (LilleyDeputy Prime Minister and Treasurer) (14:24): I thank the member for Petrie for that very important question, because there has been a very strong endorsement of the resilience of the Australian economy by the IMF in their annual report—a very comprehensive report on the resilience of the Australian economy. I would just like to quote a few things that the IMF had to say about our economy. They said there was a well-coordinated response to the global financial crisis, and they went on to say:

Five years on, both the economy and the financial sector continue to outperform most of their peers.

The IMF then went on to say, in praising the adept handling of the fallout from the global financial crisis:

… prudent economic management, and strong supervision of the financial sector, has kept Australia on the dwindling list of AAA rated countries.

So what the IMF is saying is that, unlike the rest of the world, the economy here has been very resilient—so much so that we have had 21 years of growth.

We are now the 12th largest economy in the world. We have improved that ranking by three since those over there were last in government. There have been something like 800,000 jobs created in Australia, whilst around the rest of the developed world millions of people have lost their jobs. And we are headed back to surplus, with modest debt. This is a very substantial achievement for Australia and for the Australian people. Interest rates are now much lower than they were under the Liberal Party. If you have a $300,000 mortgage, you are now saving around $4,500 a year in repayments compared to what occurred when those over there were last in office, when there were interest rate rises—10 in a row.

So the point is that the IMF is pointing to the resilience of the Australian economy. And because of our good budget management, we have put in place some historic reforms. We have boosted the age pension and introduced paid parental leave; we have tripled the tax-free threshold; we have increased the childcare rebate and we have increased the superannuation guarantee—all designed to make our economy much more resilient. And we put in place the Asian century white paper. These fundamentals are there for everybody to see.

This report from the IMF completely torpedoes the low-rent scaremongering that we hear from the Leader of the Opposition, and from the shadow Treasurer, who talk our economy down every day of the week. We on this side of the House will get on with building on the strength of the Australian economy by putting in place the fundamental reforms that the Prime Minister was talking about before—fundamental reforms when it comes to school improvement and, of course, the national disability scheme. All of these things are important.

We have seen the carbon scare campaign waged by those opposite fade away. And what have we got now? We have got another smear campaign because they do not have any policies.

Mrs D'ATH (Petrie) (14:27): Madam Speaker, I rise to ask a supplementary question. The Treasurer has spoken about why a resilient economy is important for delivering the big reforms for the country. Can he outline what this means for people in my electorate?

Mr SWAN (LilleyDeputy Prime Minister and Treasurer) (14:27): I thank the member for Petrie for that question. We avoided a recession in this country because of the policies put in place by this government. We avoided the skill destruction and the very high unemployment that has been experienced across so many other developed economies. This has had real benefits for working people, particularly in the electorate of Petrie: tripling the tax-free threshold for 49,000 people in the electorate of Petrie, delivering a boost to super for 44,000 workers in Petrie and delivering tax breaks to 12,300 small businesses in Petrie—all of that opposed by the Liberals opposite—because our approach to the economy is one of good economic management, unlike those opposite who have a $70 billion crater in their budget bottom line, which could only mean, if they were in power, huge cuts to health and education. Of course, we have seen what they would do if they were there from what Campbell Newman has been doing in Queensland, the leading edge of which is felt in the electorate of Petrie and in the electorate of Lilley by the slashing of aged-care beds at state-run nursing homes. What we are seeing here is a taste of the future if they were in power: taking a sledgehammer to health and education and a sledgehammer to the economy. We on this side of the House will always stand to support jobs and make sure we have decent health and education.

Ms Gambaro: How's the superclinic going?

The SPEAKER: How's the member for Brisbane going at observing the standing orders?