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Wednesday, 29 September 2010
Page: 171

Ms SAFFIN (2:22 PM) —My question is to the Treasurer. Deputy Prime Minister, what do recent economic outcomes say about Australia’s economic outlook and the importance of responsible economic management?

Mr SWAN (Treasurer) —I thank the member for Page for her question. Recent economic figures show yet again that the Australian economy is one of the strongest economies in the developed world. We also have an extraordinary performance when it comes to job creation, a performance which I know all members of the House are proud of because it means that more Australians are taking home a pay packet. What that means for those families is greater security. Going to the core of this government’s objectives in economic policy and in social policy more broadly is that we create the jobs and provide the job security which all Australians pray for for themselves, for their families and for their community. Because employment growth has been so strong, we are one of the strongest advanced economies.

In the last couple of weeks we saw the publication of the June quarter national accounts. In that quarter the Australian economy grew by 1.2 per cent—to grow by 3.3 per cent through the year. We have seen the creation of 53,000 full-time jobs in August alone and something like 349,000 jobs have been created in Australia in the past year. There is no figure we are more proud of than the fact that in our term of office something like 567,000 jobs have been created.

To put this into perspective, two years ago we were contemplating the collapse of Lehman Brothers which had just happened. We were contemplating the global financial crisis, which then turned into a global recession. We have dealt with that in this country better than just about any other advanced economy. These figures are so important because they show that we are transitioning from stimulus led growth to private sector demand. What that means to this economy is that we can be optimistic about our outlook.

We are not necessarily immune from what is going on elsewhere in the world but we are in the strongest growing part of the global economy. Yes we see there are still downside risks when we look at what is going on in Europe and to some extent in the United States, but what we can see in these figures is something very special—not just jobs growth but the fact that consumption is returning and that investment is going to be strong as we go forward. Planned business investment for 2010-11 is going to be $123 billion, a very substantial increase on what was expected a year earlier—a substantial increase of 24 per cent. Of course, as we all know, investment is much stronger in the mining sector. These figures indicate that that growth and that planned investment is broader than just the mining sector, and that is important.

When you compare that with what is happening in Europe or in the United States, you see that this is a very good outlook for Australia. It does not necessarily mean that everything is going right for every business or that every family is necessarily doing well, but the fundamentals are falling into place. As we go forward, it will mean that we will not be dealing with the rubble of high unemployment and capital destruction which flows from a recession. We are moving forward from a position of strength, from very solid foundations. That is why the government is so determined to put in place our future agenda, which addresses long-term challenges, particularly the challenges which will flow from mining boom mark 2. That is why we take the recommendations of the Henry report seriously when it comes to company taxation.

Mr Hockey —Release it!

Mr SWAN —That is why we want to bring down the company tax rate. That is why we want to give small businesses in particular a very substantial tax cut, a very substantial incentive to invest in plant and equipment. That is why we are investing in fundamental infrastructure like the National Broadband Network. Nothing could be more important to future productivity and to all businesses in Australia than the productivity benefits that will flow from the NBN. These are the vital policies that need to be put in place by the 43rd Parliament to broaden, strengthen and protect our future prosperity.

The SPEAKER —Order! Before calling the member for Leichhardt—and I do this in the greatest of good spirit—the Treasurer should not be emboldened by the number of words he got into four minutes. He actually got five and a bit minutes because we have training wheels on our new digital clock. I want to give the first butterfly stamp to the member for North Sydney because he contained himself for the four minutes and it was only that we got the clock wrong that he intervened—I accept that. We apologise and we are going to make sure that we do it properly.