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Tuesday, 3 February 2009
Page: 31


Senator MARSHALL (2:42 PM) —My question is to the Minister representing the Treasurer, Senator Conroy. Can the minister update the Senate on the outcome of the RBA’s board meeting today?


Senator CONROY (Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy) —I thank the senator for his question. As I have already noted today, these are extraordinary times and they demand that all arms of policy be directed squarely at supporting jobs and growth in the Australian economy. Today we have seen decisive action from both the government and the Reserve Bank.

The Reserve Bank has just announced that it will be reducing the official cash rate by 100 basis points to 3.25 per cent. We join with families and businesses in welcoming this substantial rate relief. This is an absolutely essential rate cut from the Reserve Bank and it has been delivered at a time when all our joint efforts are directed towards strengthening the economy and protecting Australian jobs. The Rudd government and Australian families expect banks to pass it on in full and in a timely manner.

With this cut in official interest rates, and with today’s announcement of the Nation Building and Jobs Plan, monetary and fiscal policy are working together to support jobs and growth. This is providing immediate relief for families doing it tough and immediate support for growth and jobs in the face of the global recession. The Nation Building and Jobs Plan is also investing in our future by building the homes, schools, roads and communities we need for future growth because, in the face of the global recession— (Time expired)


Senator MARSHALL —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Can the minister outline how the RBA’s decision, in conjunction with other measures taken by the government, will help support the Australian economy given the unprecedented economic conditions we face?


Senator CONROY (Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy) —We on this side of the chamber recognise that there will be no quick fix to this global recession and many of its effects are still to be felt. But Australians can take heart from the fact that both the government and the RBA are doing our bit to support jobs and growth in the face of the worst that the world can throw at us. As the Prime Minister made clear yesterday, the gravity of the economic challenge we face means that this is not a time for fence sitting. Those opposite have a choice to make. We encourage them to support the measures that have been announced today. The Rudd government has clearly set its course to act decisively with further action to support growth and jobs. (Time expired)


Senator MARSHALL —Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. How does the government’s approach compare to that approach advocated by the opposition?


Senator CONROY (Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy) —As I was saying, those opposite now have a choice. There is no more opportunity to play both sides of the street and no more opportunity to sit on the fence because those opposite are going to have to decide. Are they going to get behind this package designed to protect and support Australian jobs and families or are they going to do what they have been doing for the last 12 months, saying one thing and doing another, saying they support a package and then setting out in this chamber and other places to systematically undermine what they claim they are supporting? So those opposite need to come clean, and they need to come clean today. Are you going to support jobs and growth in this country? Are you going to get behind this package or are you going to keep playing short-term political games? (Time expired)