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Thursday, 12 March 2009
Page: 2523


Mr HOCKEY (2:19 PM) —My question is to the acting Treasurer. I refer to the Treasurer’s press release of 8 December last year, in which he said:

Families and pensioners will start receiving their payments today from the Rudd government’s $10.4 billion Economic Security Strategy to strengthen the economy in the face of the global financial crisis and create up to 75,000 jobs.

Given that 80,000 Australians have lost their jobs in the last two months, what bang for the buck did taxpayers get for their $10 billion Christmas cash splash?


Mr TANNER (Minister for Finance and Deregulation) —The first point I would make in response to this question is that my recollection is that the particular strategy that the member for North Sydney is referring to is one that was supported and voted for by the opposition. The second point is that the implicit point in the member for North Sydney’s question is based on a core fallacy, which yet again demonstrates that the member for North Sydney needs to take some economics lessons. The fallacy is that, when the government takes some kind of intervention to boost aggregate demand in the economy and thereby boost employment, nothing else is happening in the economy in the meantime. Of course, there are huge downward pressures on the Australian economy from the global financial crisis and the ensuing recession that has emerged. So the inherent fallacy in the position being taken by the member for North Sydney is that other factors are completely ignored.

I will run through some of the indicators in the December quarter accounts which just illustrate what has been occurring in the Australian economy. There has been a huge reduction in business inventories and a dramatic increase in household savings rates, both of which indicate that the shock to confidence in this country and in most other developed countries that occurred in the early part of the quarter, particularly in the wake of the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy and all of the events surrounding that, has had a very significant impact on economic activity in this country.

The member for North Sydney would prefer to ignore that. He would prefer to sit and wait. The Liberal policy is: ‘Let’s just see what happens. Let’s not do anything. Let’s not take action to ensure that we get payments moving into the economy’—payments which, Mr Speaker, I would remind you went to pensioners, to carers, to veterans and to families, and payments which were supported by the Liberal Party.


Mr Laming interjecting


The SPEAKER —The member for Bowman is warned!


Mr TANNER —As has been indicated by people such as the chief executive of Woolworths, those payments help to sustain economic activity. They are continuing to help sustain economic activity and they are continuing to flow through into the Australian economy.


Mr Hockey —I seek leave to table the Treasurer’s press release where he says it would create 75,000 jobs.

Leave not granted.