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Thursday, 14 March 2013
Page: 2184


Ms ROWLAND (Greenway) (14:32): My question is to the Treasurer. Will the Treasurer update the House on today's Australian Bureau of Statistics employment numbers? How are the government's economic and fiscal policies working to support Australian jobs?

Mr SWAN (LilleyDeputy Prime Minister and Treasurer) (14:32): I thank the member for Greenway for that very important question. Jobs have been at the very heart of every single decision this government has taken over a five-year period. The decisions we took during the global financial crisis meant that we did not suffer the skills destruction, the high unemployment and the capital destruction that we have seen across so many other countries, developed economies, right around the world.

We can see the benefit of that in today's job numbers. I know those opposite do not welcome these numbers, but everybody on this side of the House does welcome these numbers. We had 71,000 jobs created in February. That is the largest monthly increase in over a decade. Of course we should be cautious about monthly figures; they can jump around. What we can say is that there have been 200,000 jobs created over the past year and 926,000 jobs created since the government came to power. That is 920,000 additional families with a breadwinner with a job. It is 920,000 new careers or careers that have been restarted. It is 920,000 opportunities for a better life, because there is nothing more fundamental to security, nothing more fundamental to peace of mind and nothing more fundamental to dealing with cost-of-living pressures than to have a job—and to have a job with decent working conditions. That is why the government does put employment at the very heart of all of its economic decision making.

You can see this is in stark contrast to what has happened elsewhere around the developed world. Unemployment hit 11.9 per cent in Europe a week or so ago. Countries there are still slipping back into recession. Those that have come out are slipping back in. Just look to the UK, where you see the impact of policies which hack away at growth and jobs. In the time that this has been achieved in Australia—over 900,000 new jobs—something like 28 million people globally have hit the unemployment scrap heap. This result for Australia is something that did not come by chance; it came by choice. It came because of a government that had the courage to take the big decisions in the face of the global financial crisis and the global recession. All of the time, jobs were at the very centre of our response, and that stands—as I said before—in stark contrast to some of the responses that are being seen in Europe and the response that has been seen in the UK, where they are on the verge of their third recession in four years. We do not want that for Australia.

That is the backdrop to the decision the government took at the end of last year to support jobs and growth. We understand that, if your economy is growing, if you are generating jobs, that is good for your budget. That is good for public finances. That is not something understood by those opposite. (Time expired)

Ms ROWLAND (Greenway) (14:35): Speaker, I ask a supplementary question. The Treasurer has talked about the role of fiscal policy in supporting jobs. Can he outline what the government is doing to ensure that all policies are properly costed?

Mr SWAN (LilleyDeputy Prime Minister and Treasurer) (14:35): I thank the member for Greenway for that question. If you are going to generate jobs, if you are going to have a strong economy, you have to have a good fiscal policy. When policies are prepared and taken to the election, they should be independently analysed and independently costed. That is why we have established the Parliamentary Budget Office and that is why I have put to the House today some further refinements of that—to ensure that the farce that occurred at the end of the year before last, after the last election, where those opposite had an $11 billion hole in their budget bottom line, can be revealed by the Parliamentary Budget Office.

We have seen the need for this in the last 24 hours. We certainly have. A Hollywood scriptwriter could not come up with a better script than what we have seen from the shadow Treasurer over the past few days. First, they were against making the baby bonus more sustainable. First of all they were against it. Then they were for it. All the articles were put out there—they were going to vote for this measure, for savings, to make it more sustainable. And what happened then? The shadow Treasurer got rolled by the member for Menzies. But then it gets worse. The Leader of the Opposition goes out today to give us the latest instalment and he cannot tell us what they are going to do if they are elected. He cannot tell us any of that. What that demonstrates is that those on that side of the House do have a secret agenda. (Time expired)

Mr Hockey interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for North Sydney is on the brink of expiring yet again from the chamber.