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Wednesday, 8 February 2012
Page: 280


Ms VAMVAKINOU (Calwell) (14:42): My question is to the Treasurer. Will the Treasurer outline for the House the importance of supporting jobs right across our economy in the face of global uncertainty?

Mr SWAN (LilleyDeputy Prime Minister and Treasurer) (14:42): I thank the member for Calwell for that question because she is a real champion of jobs in her area of Melbourne. As I was saying before, there have been something like 700,000 jobs created in this country over the past four years. Just compare that with what has gone on in other developed economies around the world. This has been perhaps the most difficult time in the global economy since the Great Depression. For our country to create 700,000 jobs in that environment is something that we are all proud of.

But we on this side of the House do understand that there are stresses and strains in our economy and that some sectors are coming under enormous pressure. The rise of Asia, the growth in the region, the fundamental strength of our commodities sector is putting upward pressure on our dollar, and that demands a responsible approach by all political parties in this House. Until now it had been a matter of bipartisan agreement that we would have support for the auto industry, for all of the reasons that the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport explained before and, as the Prime Minister indicated before, it is absolutely essential to our skills and technological base. We come to this problem with goodwill, wanting to work with the industry and with local communities. It is important that we put in place the investment we need, particularly in skills, training and innovation, but it is also important that we have a very strict fiscal policy in this environment. As I explained before to the member for Kennedy, despite all of these pressures in particular sectors we have an economy where growth is still at trend. As a consequence of having an economy where growth is at trend we have to bring our budget back to surplus because we do not want to add to inflationary pressures in the economy.

We know that this is something those opposite do not get, because when they were last in power there were 10 interest rate rises in a row. That was despite the fact that they promised in 2004 to keep them at record lows. When it comes to the employment of fiscal policy they are a complete shambles. That is why they have a $70 billion hole. That is why they have thrown a surplus commitment out the window and that is why they are now threatening the auto industry.

The SPEAKER: Order! The Treasurer will return to being directly relevant in his answer.

Mr SWAN: We on this side of the House know what we must do to successfully manage our economy in this period of great change. Those opposite are simply in shambles.