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Thursday, 24 November 2011
Page: 13838

Mr SWAN (LilleyDeputy Prime Minister and Treasurer) (16:26): Mr Speaker, I congratulate you on your new office and I look forward to working with you. It has been quite a year. It has been particularly a very different year in my home state of Queensland where, in January this year, most of the state was under water. We had the impact of the floods not just in South-East Queensland but far wider than that, right across the state. Then we had the impact of Cyclone Yasi in North Queensland and Far North Queensland. All this had a tremendous impact on our state.

What it really showed was a fantastic community spirit in Queensland and right around the country. We had the 'gumboot army' come out right across the state, people flying into the state from elsewhere to help their fellow Australians. I have never seen such a community mobilisation in response to a threat in my whole life in politics. It really warmed my heart to see the reaction on the ground of people helping fellow citizens who were in trouble. It was, therefore, a great reminder of how our nation has succeeded and a great demonstration of what we can do when we work together standing shoulder to shoulder. I guess we may need to see that same spirit come forward again, if you are looking at the forecasts that are coming from the Bureau of Meteorology at the moment. But I am very confident that we have learned from what has occurred this year and we will be able to handle those circumstances with all of the energy that we mustered to handle the circumstances right throughout this year.

It has also been a very interesting year in the national and international economy. The storm clouds are gathering again in the global economy but, because our economy is strong and because we have put in place arrangements over the last four years to further strengthen our economy and support jobs, we are in a far stronger position than any other developed economy to handle the worst that the world can throw at us. Something like 750,000 jobs have been created in Australia in the last four years, 100,000 of those in the last year alone. When you look at our economy, it is some six per cent bigger now than it was prior to the global financial crisis. There is virtually no other developed economy that can make a claim like that. Why is it important? It gives peace of mind to our citizens that we have a strong economy which can continue to deliver jobs, and of course incomes, whereby people can support their families. So we can look to the year ahead confident in the knowledge that the fundamentals in our economy are strong and we are in the best position to deal with the worst that the world can throw at us. I want to say a few things about the parliament because there was a degree of scepticism that the parliament would necessarily work well in the circumstances of minority government. What we have seen in the past year is not just a functioning parliament but a parliament functioning very well. In excess of 250 bills have passed through the parliament.

Debate interrupted.