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Wednesday, 17 June 2009
Page: 6311

Ms OWENS (2:07 PM) —My question is to the Treasurer. Will the Treasurer outline for the House the possible consequences of the Senate’s failure to pass the necessary legislation to establish the Australian Business Investment Partnership?

Mr SWAN (Treasurer) —I thank the member for Parramatta for her question. They think the whole topic of jobs in Australia is funny. They will not support any constructive measures in this House to support employment. They have consistently opposed in this House economic stimulus that is providing support to tens of thousands of Australian families who have breadwinners because this government had the courage to put in place economic stimulus. But what we saw in the Senate last night was perhaps the most brazen example of political opportunism that we have ever seen from the Leader of the Opposition—and we have seen many. We remember his statement that ‘not one job had been created by economic stimulus’. There have been tens of thousands of jobs supported by economic stimulus. We on this side of the House are absolutely determined to do everything that we can, in the face of a global recession, to support domestic employment.

The Australian Business Investment Partnership is very important given the global recession. It is a commonsense measure. As the Prime Minister was saying before, it is supported strongly by the business community. It is supported strongly by the small business community. They understand that if finance is withdrawn by international financiers then the jobs of tens of thousands of people are on the line. But those opposite simply want to play politics. The Leader of the Opposition would rather see the nation fail than the Rudd government succeed. That is their attitude to this particular proposition. It is the case that the business community strongly supports this measure. It is important that a measure like this should pass because it does have important and dramatic impacts upon confidence.

As the CEO of the Property Council said this morning, ‘The confidence dividend this would have delivered will now be lost.’ It just goes to show how little the opposition understand about the challenge of this global recession and how little they understand about the need to support employment and small business that they could engage in such a reckless act. This is a measure that is required. It is a very important contingency measure. If worst comes to worst and they do not change their minds and projects fail and jobs are lost, it will be on their heads. It will be on their heads if jobs are lost. What we see from this mob is an enormous amount of cheap outrage and feigned indignation when they know we are doing the right thing by the country.

There is not a conservative government anywhere else in the world that has not engaged in economic stimulus like we have and that has not put in place a measure similar to this. The only group that stand out in that debate are the Liberal and National parties of Australia, who have no comprehension of the nature of the challenge that we are facing. They are playing the politics of calculation; they are not playing the politics of conviction. They are sitting back and waiting to see people lose their jobs because they think that is to their political advantage. That will most certainly not be supported by the Australian people, who want governments to take action and to put in place decent, commonsense initiatives such as ABIP—which is what we have done.