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Thursday, 27 June 2013
Page: 7267

Economy


Ms SMYTH (La Trobe) (14:04): Speaker, my question is to the Prime Minister. Prime Minister, why is the government optimistic about the future of our economy and what that means for all Australians?


Mr RUDD (Griffith—Prime Minister) (14:04): I thank the honourable member for her question. We in this country—if you were to step anywhere else in the world today, they would look at Australia and say, 'This is one of the best performing economies in the world.' However, if you stand in this chamber it is like we have entered an altered universe. And the altered universe suggested by the negative politics of those opposite is that this economy is somehow on its knees, which it is not. The basic economic data stands Australia proud. It is that not only have we come through the worst economic crisis since the Depression without going into recession, without bringing on mass unemployment, but we have also done so with low inflation levels, low interest rates for Australian working families and, on top of that, an avoidance of mass unemployment and employment levels which are the envy of the world. That is why this government and the nation at large should be confident.

Mr Pyne interjecting

Mr RUDD: When it comes to detracting from national economic confidence, it is important that all of us engage in a positive economic debate. And having observed from the nether regions for the last few years what has gone on in this debate, it has given me a bit of perspective. During that period of time what I have seen is that every single piece of good economic data advanced about the Australian economy has been ignored, belittled or distorted by those opposite. That is simply how it has gone.

Mr Pyne interjecting

Mr RUDD: I believe that what the Australian people are looking for is a positive vision for the nation's future.

Mr Pyne interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Sturt is warned!

Mr RUDD: What they want is positive politics, not negative politics. They want us to build the house up, not tear it down. They want a government that says: 'Here are the problems we face. Face them squarely on the basis of facts, on the basis of real argument and on the basis of practical policy solutions.'

I say to the Leader of the Opposition that if the Australian people vote him in as the next Prime Minister of Australia—if they do—there is one core economic challenge facing us all, and that is this: the China resources boom is over. The China trade itself represents such a huge slice of the Australian national economy that we are looking at one huge adjustment for this nation's standard of living in the future unless we continue to act with appropriate policy responses. That means that on productivity we need to work hard to continue to boost our productivity. It means also the diversification of our economy. It means building up our manufacturing again. It means building up our agricultural sector and our processed food sector. This is the way forward, given the challenges we now face with a changed set of global economic circumstances. This government will put forward positive solutions as to how we handle those challenges, as we have done in the past. It is time for the old politics of negativity to be dead and buried.