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Wednesday, 12 September 2012
Page: 10371

Fiscal Policy

Mr STEPHEN JONES (Throsby) (14:12): My question is to the Acting Prime Minister. Will the Acting Prime Minister outline the importance of a measured approach to fiscal policy? What are the risks to our economy of reckless cuts to front-line services like education and health?

Mr SWAN (LilleyDeputy Prime Minister and Treasurer) (14:12): I thank the member for Throsby for his question, because the Australian economy is a clear stand out in the developed world. We supported growth during the worst global recession in over 80 years. We avoided recession and we avoided the destruction of jobs that occurred right across the developed economies. Of course, if those opposite had had their way at that time Australia would have gone into recession and we would have seen small businesses hit the wall and a substantial increase in unemployment.

Through all this period, as we have supported the economy we have put in place a responsible fiscal policy. We put in a set of fiscal rules to bring our budget back to surplus that are light years ahead of major advanced economies. In those rules we have of course been able to find room for Labor priorities: doubling investment in education and delivering a historic boost to the pension and fundamental reform to our hospital system. All of these responsible initiatives are part of Labor values. But what we are seeing on the other side of the parliament are Liberal values—the scorched earth approach to education and health.

Mr Pyne interjecting

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms AE Burke ): The member for Sturt will desist using the prop. The member for Solomon had better not even think about it.

Mr SWAN: In Queensland and New South Wales today people are waking up to the stark reality of the values that drive the Liberal Party—indiscriminately wielding the axe, particularly in health and education. In Queensland there has been the loss of 14,000 jobs of key workers, in health in particular. All of those cuts have the cold-hearted stamp of approval of the Leader of the Opposition. Just yesterday we saw cuts to education in New South Wales—$1.7 billion was ripped out of education.

In both New South Wales and Queensland every parent and every pupil fears the reckless approach to these vital areas of public policy that comes from the Liberal Party. We know when the Liberals swing the axe who gets the chop. We know that it is nurses, hospital workers, and working men and women. And the people who need those government services are the people who feel the chop. What is going on in New South Wales and Queensland now is just the warm-up act for the Leader of the Opposition, who has given his seal of approval to the cuts in both New South Wales and Queensland.

In Queensland what we are seeing is a very cruel and destructive budget. It is a budget that speaks volumes about Campbell Newman, Tony Abbott and the entire Liberal Party. We on this side of the House will always stand up for responsible fiscal policy, and of course that is standing up for working Australians. Those on the other side of the House want to cut them down.