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Monday, 13 February 2012
Page: 847


Ms LIVERMORE (Capricornia) (14:27): My question is to the Treasurer. Will the Treasurer outline for the House the importance of supporting jobs and economic growth and returning the budget to surplus?

Mr SWAN (LilleyDeputy Prime Minister and Treasurer) (14:27): I thank the member for Capricornia for this question, because I think the government understands just how difficult the international economic environment is and you can see that in terms of the pictures that are coming out of Greece as I speak. But the fact is progress does need to be made in Europe and that progress needs to be made despite the fact that whatever happens there will be a very long and painful adjustment in that community. We do feel the impact of these global events particularly in Europe on our own economy and on our budget and we were upfront about that in our mid-year budget update. But here fortunately our economy is seven per cent larger than it was prior to the global financial crisis, because the government acted decisively to support jobs and growth. And, of course, we have seen something like 700,000 jobs created in this country since the government came to power. If those opposite had had their way, Australia would have gone into recession and we would have seen hundreds of thousands of Australians who were unemployed and we would have seen tens of thousands of small businesses hit the wall.

But our economic fundamentals here are strong. We have got solid growth, we have got low unemployment, we have got contained inflation, we have got strong public finances and we have got a record pipeline of investment. But our revenues have been hit by these events in Europe and around the world. We have lost something like $140 billion, ripped from government revenues because of global instability. And that would have happened to those opposite had they been in power during this period. And, of course, the budget went into deficit. If they had been here, because of their failure to act they would have seen even bigger deficits. But, given that our economy is now growing at trend, we are absolutely determined to bring our budget back to surplus in 2012-13. We are determined to bring it back and that we deliver it. We have seen over the past week or so the slapstick farce of those opposite as they have, one-by-one, walked away from their commitment to bring the budget back to surplus—

Mr Pyne: Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The Treasurer is a serial offender concerning your exhortation to be directly relevant to the question asked. This could not possibly be directly relevant to the question and I ask you to bring the Treasurer back to the question.

The SPEAKER: The Manager of Opposition Business will resume his seat. I will be the arbiter of what is directly relevant.

Mr SWAN: We are bringing the budget back to surplus. Those opposite have walked away from that commitment and we have found out why: because they have a $70 billion crater in their budget bottom line put together by the three stooges over there.

The SPEAKER: Order! The Deputy Prime Minister with withdraw 'the three stooges'.

Mr SWAN: I withdraw—the Leader of the Opposition, the shadow minister for finance and the shadow Treasurer. We have now found out why and how this $70 billion figure got into the public arena—the shadow Treasurer decided to play a trick on the other two stooges, a really difficult trick.

The SPEAKER: Order! The Treasurer will withdraw.

Mr Pyne: Mr Speaker, on the issue of withdrawal, you asked the Treasurer to withdraw that same phrase last week. He has now used it twice in his answer to this question. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has been required to leave the chamber. I would ask you to act against the Treasurer.

Opposition members: Hear, hear!

The SPEAKER: I will not revisit my ruling with respect to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition leaving the chamber but if anyone cares to peruse the Hansard, the reason will be obvious. I have called on the Treasurer to withdraw that term and he has done so.

Opposition members: He did it again!

The SPEAKER: If the Treasurer used the term again, he will withdraw it.

Mr SWAN: Certainly, Mr Speaker, because we found out—

Opposition members: Withdraw!

Mr SWAN: I withdraw. We found out on the weekend from Laurie Oakes the type of trick that was played by the shadow Treasurer. (Time expired)