|Title||QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE: TAKE NOTE OF ANSWERS
Carbon Pricing, Economy
|Interjector||Mason, Sen Brett
|Speaker||Sherry, Sen Nick
|Stage||Carbon Pricing, Economy
|Context||QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE: TAKE NOTE OF ANSWERS
Senator SHERRY (Tasmania) (15:22): It is always a pleasure to participate in a debate about the economy, even if it has a somewhat specific Queensland focus as a consequence of the election that is to take place on Saturday. But, of course, this is the federal parliament and I will take up the challenge of Senator Mason. Senator Wongâand, indeed, other ministers, including me when I was Assistant Treasurer and held a range of economic responsibilities during the global financial crisisâhas well pointed out the circumstances Australia faced in terms of what was a world recession. We determined to stimulate the economy and we prevented Australia's economy from going into recession.
Senator Mason, in his contribution, said that it is hard to keep a budget surplus; it is hard to keep a budget out of debt. I can tell you it is pretty damn hard to keep an economy out of recession when the rest of the world is in one. That is pretty damn hard. Let me refer to the evidenceâ
Senator Mason: You've got to spend well.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Order, Senator Mason!
Senator SHERRY: I did listen to Senator Mason in silence. Let me refer to the commentary at the time when the world was slipping into recession. As I said, Australia did not have a recession. Let me refer you to commentary from none other than the so-called shadow Treasurer, Mr Hockey, who said there would be a million unemployed in Australia and that we would have double-digit, 10 per cent, unemployment. That is what he predicted in the middle of 2008. The well-known economic guru, the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Abbott, predicted: 'If the rest of the world has a recession, you will not keep Australia out of recession.' I remember those two predictionsâfrom Mr Hockey, that there would be a million unemployed in Australia if there was a world recession, and from Mr Abbott, that you could not keep Australia out of a recession if the rest of the world went into one. Well, the rest of the world went into a recession and Australia did not have a recession. Those two leading economic spokespeople for the opposition, Mr Hockey and Mr Abbott, were wrong. They predicted a recession in Australia and they predicted a million unemployed, and they were wrong. They were wrong because this Labor government took the correct actions to stimulate the economy.
Senator Mason: Was it good value for money, Nick? No.
Senator SHERRY: That is why we have got a 5 in front of the unemployment rate in this country, whereas in Europe they have a 10, Senator Mason, and in the US it is not much better. In the rest of the advanced economic world, there is deep unemploymentâ
Senator Mason: Deep debt.
Senator SHERRY: I will get to debt in a momentâand Australia has a 5 in front of its unemployment rate. We have half the level of unemployment of most of the advanced European economies and the United States.
Let me move to the debt issue. The debt arises from two consequences. One: the world recession reduced Australia's revenue. We lost over $120 billion in revenue as a consequence of the world recession. So revenue dropped significantly as a result of the world recession. And, yes, we did spend money, and in spending money we kept this economy out of recession, and that is recognised by almost every leading independent economic authority in the world, from the World Bank to the IMF to Australian economists. The decisive action we took to keep this economy out of recession is recognised by almost everyone but the Liberal-National Party opposition, who, as soon as we moved into government, developed the habit of saying no, no, no. That is all you get from this Liberal opposition: no, no, no.
I repeat: in the middle of 2008, it was the current Leader of the Opposition, Mr Abbott, who said: 'If the rest of the world goes into recession, you won't keep Australia out of it. Don't spend any money. Don't have a stimulus package.' That is what Mr Abbott predicted. Mr Hockey predicted a million unemployed. He shifted his political lines very quickly to focus on what he thought would be a million unemployed. They were wrong: Mr Hockey was wrong and Mr Abbott was wrong. This Labor government, of which I am proud, kept Australia out of recession. That is why we are in such a strong position. (Time expired)