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Thursday, 12 March 2009
Page: 2522

Mr TURNBULL (2:12 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer the Prime Minister to a comment he made on 14 October 2007 and I quote:

When it comes to an unemployment number with a three in front of it, we believe that is a right goal for Australia too.

How will the Prime Minister reduce the unemployment rate from 5.2 per cent to a number with a three in front of it, or is high unemployment the inevitable outcome of the rising risk of the Rudd recession?

Mr RUDD (Prime Minister) —It is good to see that the Liberal Party focus groups have been at work, as they seek to again take political advantage of the global economic crisis when the government is seeking to implement an economic strategy to reduce the impact of that crisis on Australia. I would say to those opposite: reflect on the unemployment numbers in every significant economy in Europe that I referred to before. I would also say to those opposite: when it comes to dealing with the challenge of unemployment, you can either engage in the political rhetoric to which those opposite are now committed or you can get on with the job of doing something about it.

This government has a clear-cut economic strategy. Firstly, we have sought to stabilise domestic financial markets by providing a guarantee to all Australian deposit holders, despite the fact that those opposite refused to provide such a guarantee, despite having received warnings over multiple years to do so. Secondly, we have provided direct stimulus to the Australian economy which has been supported by every peak business organisation in the country. The only organisation opposed to it is the Liberal Party. Thirdly, we are engaged in the direct implementation of short-term infrastructure building—in schools, in housing as well as energy efficiency in Australian owner-occupied dwellings. Those opposite, it seems, stand opposed.

What continues to stun me is this: when this government implemented its economic stimulus strategy last October, the strategy which the Leader of the Opposition, or the temporary Leader of the Opposition, said that he supported at the time, for reasons of absolute political convenience, three months later, he turns around and says that he opposed it all the time. Well, I would say this to the Leader of the Opposition: one thing people require in politics, one thing people require when faced with a genuine threat to Australia’s national economic self-interest, is consistency of policy and consistency of approach. On these things, we cannot see a skerrick of evidence on the part of the Liberal leader.