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Monday, 27 February 2012
Page: 1772


Mr NEUMANN (Blair) (14:40): My question is to the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation. How is the government supporting working people by delivering economic policies that invest in their future?

Mr SHORTEN (MaribyrnongMinister for Financial Services and Superannuation and Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations) (14:40): I thank the member for Blair for his question. He is interested in the future for his constituents in Ipswich. He knows the courtesy of a Labor government: 43½ thousand of his voters who are working at the moment will get an increase in superannuation. He also knows that economic change in Australia is inevitable. Unlike the flat earth society opposite, we do not argue that change can never happen. We do not mislead the Australian electorate and say to people, 'You don't have to change; you can stay as you are.' What he also knows is that only the Labor government are the people who are committed to helping people get through change. We are doing it in three ways. We are doing it through making sure people have jobs and fair conditions at work, we are doing it by making sure that we can help families make ends meet and we are also doing it by ensuring a good future for people in the areas of both social justice and their retirement.

In terms of ensuring fairness, our credentials are second to none, because we repealed Work Choices and got the Fair Work Act. We stand for having modern awards and ensuring that whilst business can prosper people do not get ripped off in the workplace. In terms of jobs our credentials are, again, out there. Whilst this year will be a difficult year for employment in Australia as we weather the economic storms of Europe, there is no doubt that our unemployment numbers, most recently at 5.1 per cent, are the envy of the Western world. How did the opposition react when we heard that good economic news? They had that spanked-bottom look on their faces!

We talk about skills. We are the government that is spending more on skills than any other government ever before. It is on our watch that we have seen more apprentices being trained and more people getting the training they need so they can adjust and find new jobs as the new economy rises. We are also helping families make ends meet. That is why we want to make sure that the corporate tax rate is reduced from 30 per cent to 29 per cent. That is why, on 1 July this year, as the carbon price is introduced, we will see the tax-free threshold go up to $18,000. Who would have believed it was possible to lift the threshold that high? Only a Labor government believes that. That is what we have managed to accomplish.

I also said that we are helping people into the future by making sure that we have a fair raft of social justice measures. That is how we help deliver a strong economy, by making sure no-one gets left behind. Only one political party in Australia is supporting an increase in superannuation from nine per cent to 12 per cent. Only one side of Australian politics is abolishing the 15 per cent tax paid on superannuation under $37,000 and only one party in Australia is fair dinkum about the National Disability Insurance Scheme.