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Monday, 20 August 2012
Page: 9105


Mr NEUMANN (Blair) (14:33): My question is to the Treasurer. Will the Treasurer update the House on the current strength of our economy and why it is important to keep investing in skills and infrastructure to keep the economy strong?

Mr SWAN (LilleyDeputy Prime Minister and Treasurer) (14:33): I thank the member for Blair for that very important question, because our economy does walk tall in the world. It is 10 per cent bigger than it was prior to the global financial crisis, and it is stronger than every other major developed economy. We have seen the creation of something like 800,000 jobs in the period this government has been in office—a remarkable outcome, given what is going on elsewhere in the world. But also we have seen really strong private business investment. Private business investment has grown by 20 per cent to be at its highest percentage of GDP in something like 40 years.

Of course there is a really strong pipeline of investment in resources as well. That advanced pipeline of resources investment has grown by nearly $90 billion in the past year alone. This private investment, along with all of the public investment that the government has been making in infrastructure but also in skills and education more broadly, is what strengthens our economy. It gives us the resilience we need to meet the challenges of the future. That fundamental investment drives the strength of our economy as we go forward, because these investments have been put in place.

Of course we do need to reverse the decade-long decline in productivity which we inherited from the other side of politics. That is why we are investing in these areas which they refused to invest in. As the Reserve Bank said, their failure to invest in these areas led to something like 10 interest rate rises in a row. We are committed to investing in education. We are committed to investing in infrastructure because we understand that if you invest in the future you strengthen future prosperity. We want to build our economy up, and those Liberals on the other side simply want to tear it down. We have a $3 billion skills package. We have a huge increase in the number of people in tertiary education. And we have doubled our investment in infrastructure—road, rail and port. This is all driving growth and productivity.

So we have a plan for the future to support jobs, whereas those on the opposite side of this House do not have a plan to do that. They have a plan to do the reverse. The shadow finance minister let the cat out of the bag up at Hayman Island the weekend before last. He said the opposition were not going to make the mistake that John Hewson had made, where he put out all the fine detail of slashing and burning in health and education. They were not going to put that out as they went to the next election. They were going to do a Campbell Newman and hide it from the Australian people—the impact on jobs, the impact on education. There is a hidden agenda from those opposite to slash, cut and burn health and education and to cut away the productive base of the Australian economy. We will support working families. They have nothing but contempt for them. (Time expired)