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Wednesday, 29 September 2010
Page: 174

Mr CRAIG THOMSON (2:13 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister. Will the Prime Minister update the House on the state of the economy and what that says about the importance of responsible economic management?

Ms GILLARD (Prime Minister) —I thank the member for Dobell for his question. Of course, it should be a source of great pride to Australians that the Australian nation is emerging from the biggest global economic downturn in 75 years stronger than any other advanced economy in the world. It should be a source of great pride to Australians that during the worst global recession in 75 years we kept our economy growing, we created more than half a million jobs in the first term of this government and we will see our budget return to surplus in 2012-13. If we do the quick comparisons with countries overseas it shows how much we have to be proud of at this time. Advanced economies contracted by a record 3.2 per cent in 2009 and now face an uncertain outlook. The US and the euro area are grappling with unemployment rates that are almost double our current rate of 5.1 per cent. The major advanced economies will be struggling to even halve their deficits by 2013, when we will be returning to surplus.

This shows the pivotal role played by timely government action and by the provision of economic stimulus—economic stimulus that prevented literally hundreds of thousands of Australians becoming unemployed; economic stimulus that prevented an economic circumstance where inevitably we would have faced bigger debts and bigger deficits. We should, as a nation, be proud of this, and I am proud that as a government we took the right steps to keep Australia working.

Now, of course, there is the task of seizing this moment as we emerge stronger than any other advanced economy from the global financial crisis and building on that strength. In order to do that we need to ensure that we do deliver on fiscal consolidation, and we are engaged in the fastest fiscal consolidation process since at least the late 1960s. As part of that process, this side of the House ensured that every single proposal we announced in the election campaign was properly costed and was offset by matching savings—in stark contrast to the $11 billion black hole the Leader of the Opposition hid each and every day of the election campaign because he simply did not want Australians to see it.

Now we need to build on this prospect of future prosperity with investments in infrastructure like the National Broadband Network—infrastructure that will ensure we have a competitive advantage rather than exporting jobs to Korea or to Singapore because we lack this vital infrastructure—and investments in infrastructure in the form of roads, rail and ports. Of course, we are making record investments in these areas; investments, too, into the potential of Australians, their skills and capacities, through the education revolution, recognising that when you boil it all down the greatest competitive strengths of this nation and its economy are the skills and capacities of the Australian people. We will be delivering this economic strategy step-by-step as a government during this parliament, working collaboratively and in a positive way for the benefit of all Australians, who want the prosperity and opportunities that future economic strength will provide.

Mr Pyne —Mr Speaker, on a point of order: I would ask the Prime Minister to table the notes from which she was reading.

The SPEAKER —Was the Prime Minister referring to notes?

Ms Gillard —Yes, Mr Speaker, I was.

The SPEAKER —Were they confidential?

Ms Gillard —Yes, they were.

Opposition members interjecting—

The SPEAKER —Order! It will take a while to bed down the great agreement, but there are items in the great agreement, about the use of notes and things like that, that I have taken note of. It then makes it a bit hard for me to go through the piece of theatre that I have been through, which was the precedence before, but I indicate to the House that we need some time but we will, in some manner, address this problem about referring to notes.