Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant the accuracy of closed captions. These are derived automatically from the broadcaster's signal.
ABC News 24 2pm News -

View in ParlView

(generated from captions) channel country in Queensland today and also low pressure systems in the west causing rain arounds north-west and also the Top End. Over the coming days we will start to see the increase of the monsoonal trough. It has been very weak over the past week and as we can see, rain forming particularly over the Northern Territory and also Western Australia and increasing along the east coast of Queensland. This pattern will continue into next week. Around the capital cities for tomorrow:

Where' about to cross to Federal Parliament for Question Time. It's already been a lot of action in Federal Parliament this morning with that major media conference that started around 11 o'clock with news that the Australian Crime Commission had been investigating Australian sport in January for about 12 months in relation to drug use, and it has found that there has been widespread drug use in Australian sport. It says that there are multiple offences that are brought into question now and it has afforded that information to the States. Let's cross live now to Question Time.

Pwer questions The Minister for tertiary education, skills, science and research will answer questions in relation to industry and innovation. Are there any questions without notice? The Leader of the Opposition. Thanks, Madam Speaker. My question is to the Prime Minister. I remind her of the Government's declaration in the 2011 Budget speech, "We'll be back in the black by 2012/13, on time as promised. The alternative, meandering back to surplus, would compound pressures in our economy and push up the cost of living for pensioners and working people." Why is the Government, in its own words, pushing up the cost of living for pensioners and working people by breaking its promise to deliver a surplus this Minister has the this year? Order! Minister has the call.Thank
you very

once again the Leader of the Opposition comes to the dispatch box and shows his inability to deal with economic concepts and economic facts. I would direct the Leader of the Opposition to the current inflation rate. I would direct the Leader of the Opposition to the Reserve Bank's remarks about the low level of the current inflation rate. I would direct the Leader of the Opposition to those facts, something that the Leader of the Opposition is not overly familiar with and what the Leader of the Opposition would recognise is - if he looked at the facts - is that we have low inflation, we have low interest rates, we have a Government that has been prepared to work with families and pensioners to assist them with their cost of living whether it's our historic pension increase, whether it's our changing of the tax-free threshold so working people can earn 18,000- The Prime Minister will resume her seat. The manager of Opposition business on a point of order. The Leader of the Opposition asked about the diss appearing surplus and the Prime Minister needs to answer that question. The manager of Opposition business will resume his seat. The Prime Minister has the call and will return to the question before the Chair. Thank you very much and I'm directly on the question bah because the Leader of the Opposition asked about the Government's Budget strategy and cost of living pressures and impact for low-income Australians and pensioners. That was the question and so I am talking about cost of living pressures for pensioners and low-income earners and I am pointing out that we have low inflation, low interest rates, we have provided an historic increase to pensioners. We have provided a change in the tax arrangements which means that low income workers - and they tend predominantly to be women - can earn $18,200 before they pay a dollar of tax. Then of course if they are buying a family home they are also in the circumstance where they are paying $5,000 less for a $300,000 mortgage than they used to when those opposite were last in Government so in terms of cost of living, in terms of working with pensioners and low-income Australians, I refer the Leader of the Opposition to the facts, to the clear economic concept s and to the facts. On the and to the facts. On Government's Budget, nothing asked by the Leader of the Opposition, nothing asked by the Shadow Treasurer actually would cause an observer to conclude that they know a global financial crisis happened and that they recognise that as a result of that global financial crisis and other pressures in our economy we have seen huge revenue write-downs. Indeed, $160 billion in revenue write-downs across the period of the GFC and you've got to ask yourself the question in those circumstances, do you support jobs? We always will and when the Leader of the Opposition has been called on to come into this place and put his hand up for jobs he never has. The Leader of the Opposition on a suprimentry? Supplementary, Madam Speaker. Can the Prime Minister explain this simple proposition - how can meandering back to surplus be bad for people at Budget time but good for people now? The Prime Minister has the call.Once again the Leader of the Opposition shows his inability to deal with economic concepts. I refer the Leader of the Opposition to our fiscal strategy and Budget rules. Now I know that this will all be alien language to the Leader of the Opposition, a fiscal strategy - what is yours? Budget rules - what are yours? Budget positions - what are yours? Offsetting savings for expenditure - where are yours? Why am I sitting opposite the only person in this parliament, the Leader of the Opposition, who since 2010 has not delivered one policy with proper costings and has not delivered one policy credible savings? Not one policy with proper costings or credible savings The Prime Minister will return to the question.The terminology used by the Leader of the Opposition in his question is ridiculous and wrong. We have a clear fiscal strategy to which we are adhering. In adhering to that fiscal strategy we've needed to make a choice about whether we also seek to offset revenue write-downs and we've made the choice that that would be too dangerous for jobs and growth. We are standing up for the jobs of working Australians. If the long has a criticism of that Budget strategy, well, table his own, and if he can't do so then Australians are entitled to conclude he is not up to the job of managing the Australian economy. The Prime Minister's time has expired. The member for La Trobe. My question is to the Prime Minister. Prime Minister, how is the Government putting in place the right policies, properly costed, to ensure Australia's future is stronger, smarter and fairer? Order! Order! The Prime Minister has the call and will be heard in silence.Thank you very much and I thank the member for La Trobe for her question and I thank her for her continuing concern and focus for people in her con stituency on their opportunity, on jobs, on their ability to start and succeed in a small business and also on the things that go to support the modern families who live in her electorate with the pressures of day-to-day life. The member for La Trobe asks a very important question and first and foremost let me say this - we as a nation are a strong nation and we are a smart nation. I am tired of the discourse in our national life that talks those attributes down. We have always been a nation which has presented strong in the world. We have always been a nation that has been smart and been able to bring clever solutions to complex problems. Indeed, our history is one of doing that and as a strong and smart nation we have always aspired to be a fair nation. That's why this nation has been constructed around and its national ethos is attached to great Labor reforms like our introduction of the pension, like our introduction of Medicare, like our introduction of universal superannuation and like the fair workplace laws we will always believe in. The Minister for families and communications.And the dismissive attitude of those opposite to key conceptess of fairness like the old aged pension is well and truly on display. As a strong, smart nation we have to ask ourselves in a world that requires sophisticated thinking, in a world that needs real plans and costed solutions, what is the best way forward? As our nation needs to confront a high and sustained dollar which is impinging on competitiveness and economic diversity, as our nation faces challenges like how we can best support those with disability, how we can ensure our kids get the best start in life and the best education in the world. As you confront these challenges you are called upon to think through, for real plans with real costings and real details, not to float ideas that on their face are absurd and would hurt families around the nation. Not to put into the public domain ideas that actually don't even pass the laugh test, don't have any detail, don't have any costings and are aimed at hurting families. This Government will always focus on the real things that matter to our nation and making sure we do the smart thinking that deliver the solutions for our country. I want us to be stronger in the future. I want us to be smarpter in the future. I want us to be fairer in the future. That our aim and that's what we're intent on delivering. The Prime Minister's time has expired. The member for North Sydney has the call. Thank you so much, Madam Speaker. My question is to the Treasurer. I refer the Treasurer to his previous Budget-related statement that Labor is committed to, "Bringing the Budget back to surplus and we are absolutely going to see the creation of over 500,000 jobs in the next couple of years." Given that the Treasurer has to create 70,000 jobs a month by June to honour that promise, should Australians start preparing for yet another broken promise like the "come hell or high water guaranteed surplus"? The Treasurer has the call. I do thank the shadow treasurer for that question because this Government makes no apology for putting jobs and growth first. We've got the employment figures out today. There have been 850,000 jobs created in this country under this Government. That has happened under the most difficult of circumstances. A global financial crisis and then at the end of last year another bout of global volatility and of course in the second part of last year we saw Europe going into recession, we saw a question mark about Chinese growth and we saw slight growth in the United States and in those circumstances the performance here in the Australian economy, unlike other developed economies, has been second to none. 850,000 jobs. The Leader of the Opposition was asking before about cost of living. Let me tell you when it comes to cost of living the most fundamental thing a family needs is a job and those opposite don't get that connection between living standards and jobs because if they did get that connection between living standards and jobs they would not put forward the absurd proposition that we should be cutting right now, cutting economic growth and cutting jobs. They most certainly should not be putting forward the fact that they in their Budget strategy have to cut the Budget by a further $70 billion. Now what that would do, it would hit growth and it would hit jobs. The Treasurer will resume his seat. The member for North Sydney on a point of order. The question is about the honesty and integrity of the Treasurer' word and given that 160,000 jobs have been created in 21 months, how is he going to deliver on his promise for an extra 70,000 jobs a month to meet that promise? The member for North Sydney will resume his seat. The Treasurer has the call. Speaker, putting forward the proposition in the way he has, he's making the Tea Party look rational. The facts are these, that when conditions in the global economy change, so do responsible Governments. And this Government at the end of last year made the judgment that to cut further in the Budget would hit growth and it would hit jobs and because our number one priority is economic growth and jobs, we are not going to go through and cut as they propose. That's what they're proposing, that you don't change in response to global economic conditions. You just continue going down the same road which is why they are such a danger to our economy, because their proposal now is to cut $70 billion at least from the Budget. If your going to take their propositions logically, that's what the Shadow Treasurer's saying. What that would do would be a Newman-style attack on health and education in the Australian economy and what that would do is push up unemployment in our community dramatically. That is the type of fiscal policy which has been put forward by the Opposition. The Treasurer's time has expired. Given that the Treasurer referred to jobs and growth, Treasurer, isn't it a fact that on average under the Coalition jobs growth was higher than it's been under Labor and economic growth has been higher than it's been under Labor? Order! The Treasurer has the call.I'm certainly pleased to answer that question because those opposite like to pretend that the global financial crisis never happened. There you go, it never happened. As a consequence of that, because it didn't happen in their world, their alternate universe, they would have cut $160 billion from the Budget. That's are what they would have done. The am ebfor North Sydneyoon a point of order. It was a simple question, yes or no. It's a factual question. The member for North Sydney will return to his seat. The Treasurer has the call. The standing order is directly relevant but when there is so much in most of the questions you do provide latitude to be directly relevant to the question but the Treasurer will return to the question. I will because the performance of the Australian economy over the past five years in generating employment of 850,000 jobs is simply a superb performance and it's one that all Australians are very proud of. When you look at what has occurred right around the world, double-digit unemployment across most developed economies, very significant unemployment still across the United States. We have performed very well, unlike other developed economies, because this Government had the guts to support our economy and to put jobs and growth first, unlike those opposite. Before I call the member for Reid I inform the house we have President in the gallery Mr Peter Jepson from the Swedish parliament and we have the former member for Fraser, Mr John Langmore. I thank him for re visiting Question Time. The member for Reid has the call. Improving on the member for North Sydney's questions, I would like to ask the Treasurer would he update the House on the Government's approach to supporting jobs and growth in the Australian economy? Before I do call the Treasurer, preambles such as the member for Reid are unnecessary and the
unwelcome. The Treasurer has the call. The member for Mayo is warned.Yes, I do welcome the question from the member for Reid because there are deep-seated challenges still in the global economy. There's international uncertainty and we still live with the aftershocks of the global financial crisis and we can see that across Europe but our economy in the face of those uncertain conditions globally is resilient and of course we can see this in the unemployment data out today. Unemployment at 5.4% is low, unchanged from last month. As I said before, something like 850,000 jobs created in this country under this Government and every one on this side of the house is proud of that achievement and of course it has been done in the face of very substantial global head winds, as we all know. And as the Prime Minister said at the press club last week, the high dollar weighs down on our economy and despite the fact that commodity prices have come off, we still have a high dollar weighing down parts of the economy. Of course the uncertainty around the global economy produces a cautious consumer and that is also reflected as well so these are very substantial head winds when it comes to the hiring of workers and that is why this employment performance is so remarkable and of course we have more people in work than ever before and this is one of the reasons why our economy is 13% bigger than it was at the end of 2007. If you compare that to the British economy, it is 4% smaller. That is an indication of how the macro-economic framework and policies that have been put in place in this country have worked so well over the past five years and of course we do have contained inflation at 2.2% as the Prime Minister was saying before and a low cash rate of 3% which of course is lower than at any time under those opposite and under half what it was when they last left office. Of course they left the legacy of 10 interest rate rises in a reso what we know is we've got to keep building on that success during the global financial crisis and look for - which is why we have put in place the Asian Century white paper, so we can maximise the opportunities which flow from growth in the region, making the investments in skills and education, investing in the NBN and, above all, putting in place a fiscal policy which supports growth and jobs because the fiscal porlacy advocated by those opposite is one that will put a sledgehammer right through our economy and it will push unemployment up and when it does that it pushes up deficit and debt. That is the contrary position put by the Shadow Treasurer. We've seen today the complete debacle, the so-called policy on Northern Australia, some thought bubble from Gina Rinehart adopted holus-bolus by those opposite. It just shows you how sloppy they are when it comes to policy-making. The Treasurer's time has expired. The manager of Opposition business has the call. My question is to the Treasurer. I refer the Treasurer to his statement at the last election that only a re-elect ed Labor Gillard Government has a plan to responsibly manage the Australian economy and bring the Budget back to surplus in 2013 without slashing the health and education Budgets. How did the Treasurer reconcile that statement with the Government's $1.6 billion cut to public hospitals, its $3.9 billion cut to education and the ditching of its commitment to bring the Budget back to surplus this year? Order! The Treasurer has the call.I'm just wondering whether shadow Health Minister is when it comes to this question but there has not been a cut that has been suggested by the member opposite. Order! The Treasurer has the call. What this Government has proven every year over the past five every
years and what we will show every year over the next five years is how you put in place a responsible fiscal policy which supports jobs and growth. We as the Government understand and those opposite don't understand that to take good public policy decisions you have to take into account the facts and when facts change in the global economy or when facts change in the national economy, responsible Governments move their policy to support growth and jobs and that is what this Government has done and will continue to do. When we changed at the height of the global financial crisis to support employment, we were opposed every step of the way by those opposite. Every step of the way. If they would have had their way, tens of thousands of small businesses would have hit the wall and a couple of hundred thousand Australians would have been unemployed. More Australians out of work. And just as they advocated that approach then, they are now projecting that approach forward to right now. At the end of last year there was a bout of instability in the global economy and commodity prices did tumble dramatically. All of that had an impact on our revenues and we have taken the responsible, balanced decision to support economic growth by not cutting to make up for that loss of revenue but these opposite are in denial. They say we didn't lose $160 billion during the global financial crisis. They say it didn't happen. Well, it did and it has impacted upon our Budget and in the face of that we supported jobs and growth and now they are saying what they would do is, at a minimum, cut the Budget, hack away at the Budget to the tune of at least $70 billion because the Shadow Treasurer fessed up to this on breakfast television, sitting beside the Minister for environment, and admitted even at that stage there was a $70 billion hole. So what we see here is the dangerous proposition from the Liberal Party of taking a sledge hammer to the economy by cutting at least $70 billion and that is one of the reasons why they will not put forward costed policies, because they want to do a Campbell Newman and get through this year without admitting what their policies are so if they were elected they'd take a sledge hammer to the economy afterwards. The member for Lyon has the call. My question is to the Prime Minister. It's been 100 years since rail arrived in the towns of Gloucester and Taree, at the time a very vital piece of infrastructure made possible by the Government of the day spending more than £1 million to deliver just over 100km of track. With this history in mind, can the Prime Minister outline the next steps for improved rail freight and very fast passenger travel between Sydney and Brisbane and how rail can play an even more important role in building a better Australia for the next century? The Prime Minister has the call. Thank you very much. I thank the member for Lyne for his question and I'm aware from discussions with thim that there's much excitement at this 100-year anniversary in his electorate in towns like Gloucester and Taree, including people coming to the train station for special celebrations, wearing of period costumes and the like. I hope people enjoy those celebrations. 100 years of rail is worth celebrating. I can assure the member, as he enjoys those celebrations, that we are getting on with the job of building for the next century. We're rolling out the largest, most extensive modernisation of the nation' interstate rail network in almost a century. Our unprecedented capital works program is currently rebuilding more than a third of the 10,000km interstate rail freight network. Indeed, we've increased rail spending 10-fold compared to the days of the Howard Government. To give you some examples of what has and is being achieved, on the Perth to east coast line we've already cut travel times by nine hours. As a result of that, star trek express and Australia post are moving things from road to rail, a great development. On the north south line we are on track to cut travel times by seven hours between Melbourne and Brisbane. Just last week we opened the southern Sydney freight line. This week contracts are being let for the northern Sydney freight line. All of this means we've seen supermarket chains like Woolworths decide to transfer 34,000 tons of dry goods once again from road to rile, a great development. Now I know that the member is very supportive of further transport projects, public transport projects. I can assure him that this Federal Labor Government is committed to public transport, indeed we have committed more resources to public transport than all other previous Federal Governments since federation combined. And we are getting on with the appropriate studies of high-speed rail because we understand that this could be a game changer for our nation. That is a high-speed rail network that could potentially service Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney and Brisbane and is of importance to people in NSW including the people that the member for Lyne represents in this place. We've already released the first part of that study. The second part of that study will be released later this year which shows that we are planning for the nation's future not just for the next five years but for the next five decades. Unfortunately the supplementary was used up on the first day. My apologies. Just before I call the member for Greenway, I advise the chamber we have members of the Australian Youth Forum's Steering Committee in the House today. We wish them well with their deliberations and we hope they enjoy their time in the capital. The member for greenway has the call. Thank you, Speaker. My question is to the assistant Treasurer and Minister assisting for deregulation. How is the Government supporting hard working Australian families by delivering tax relief, infrastructure and health and education services? Why is it important for taxpayers that this support is properly costed and budgeted and what would be the impact if it wasn't? The Minister has the call.Thanks very much, Speaker, and I thank the member for Greenway for her question. She is a tremendous advocate of the people of Western Sydney and, like all members of the Gillard Government, she understands the modern pressures that families are facing across this country and that's why we've put in place a number of targeted policies to assist families, to ease those cost of living pressures. We've put in place a school kids' bonus. We've in creased assistance to families. We've provided tax cuts, tripling the tax-free threshold, and of course we're increasing superannuation. But of course while this Government is out there putting in place policies that will assist fament ylz, those opposite have already flagged their intention to take a meat axe to these assistance measures. Two policies they've announced so far and both are an attack on working families. The first one they want to rip away the school kids' bonus. The second one, they want to jack up taxes on the superannuation of the lowest-paid Australian workers. But of course lots of pamphlets and two policies doesn't make a plan. It doesn't make a plan. And there's increasing pressure on them to reveal full details of what they want to take to the election. Indeed, it's no surprise that they don't want to tell the Australian people what it is they intend to do. We saw today with the release or should I say the embarrassing leak of their policy on Northern Australia exactly why they want to keep their policies a secret. The member for cook! The Minister has the call. This is a plan that will divide Australia.It's a plan that will relocate tens of thousands of jobs from places like Western Sydney to the far north of xors the message the Coalition is sending to the families in Western Sydney is you either pack up your bags and your family and move to the far north if you want to keep your job or if you're not prepared to do that we'll jack up taxes so that we can fund billions of dollars of white elephant infrastructure projects in the north of Australia. Order! The Minister will resume his seat. This better be good. The member for Herbert has the call. On relevance, Madam Speaker, if he could just explain which infrastructure in Northern Australia would be a white elephant? The member for