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Tuesday, 21 August 2018
Page: 7947

Ms JULIE BISHOP (CurtinMinister for Foreign Affairs) (14:54): The Turnbull government is delivering for the people of Australia through lower taxes, lower prices and more jobs. We are fighting for the people of Australia, because we have an economic plan to grow our economy and ensure there are more jobs and more job opportunities. We are the party that backs the small businesses, the mums and dads who take a risk, who start a business, who grow a business and who export their goods and services around the world. These are the people who the coalition government back to drive our economic growth and create jobs for the Australian people. That's why the Turnbull government is backing small business and medium-sized business through tax cuts. That's why we are fighting for lower costs. That's why we have our energy plan—to bring down the cost of electricity so that our businesses can compete around the world. That's why we have a plan to fix the GST—so that there's a level playing field across Australia for all businesses who are operating in this country.

We have turned the corner on Labor's debt. We will return the budget to surplus a year early in 2019-20. Do you know the last time a Labor government delivered a budget surplus? The last time Labor delivered a budget surplus the Berlin Wall was still standing, Ronald Reagan was still in the White House, Maggie Thatcher was still in Downing Street and Bob Hawke was in the Lodge. Twenty-five years ago was the last time that Labor delivered a surplus.

We've fixed the economic mess that we inherited. Remember that after Labor came into government, in the six years of Labor, they blew a $20 billion surplus and never delivered one. They blew billions and billions of dollars in savings. We went from zero net government debt to massive debt. In the six years of the coalition government, we've turned the corner on Labor's debt and we're getting back into surplus.

Did these things have an effect on our economy? Yes, they did. For a start, because of Labor's economic mismanagement, they cut defence spending to the lowest level since 1938. Not one new naval vessel was commissioned for our Navy. Not only did that put at risk thousands and thousands of jobs in the defence industry's supply chain; it put our national security at risk. Then we inherited the mess of the NBN off Labor. In their entire six years they only connected 50,000 households. We are connecting 50,000 every two weeks. Every two weeks we achieve more than Labor did in their entire six years.

What else did Labor do through their mismanagement of the economy? They stopped listing life-saving drugs on the PBS. They stopped listing drugs. Because we have now fixed the budget, because we have now paid off the Labor debt, we are now able to list life-saving drugs on the PBS. At last count, there were 1,800 new drugs listed on the PBS.

But, members, the greatest policy failure in a generation on Labor's part—and, believe me, there's a big list, so I don't say this lightly—was losing control of our borders and inspiring the people-smuggling trade. There were 800 boats, 50,000 people and thousands of children in detention centres across Australia and in our region and 1,200 deaths at sea that we know of under Labor. That's why, through our Operation Sovereign Borders, we restored integrity to our sovereignty and to our borders and we put the people smugglers out of business.

Under the policies of the Turnbull government, we now have the fastest-growing economy in all of the G7. We're growing faster than all the G7 countries. We're growing faster than New Zealand. We're growing faster than South Korea. We have created an environment that has seen 300,000 new jobs created in the last 12 months. That's 1,000 new jobs a day under this government. Unemployment is now 5.3 per cent. That's lower than, say, Canada. It's still too high, but that's why we're working night and day to ensure we can get that unemployment rate down. It's the lowest in six years, but it's going lower. Where does Labor get its inspiration from? It's Venezuela, with higher taxes, higher inflation and lower jobs growth. The coalition stands for the workers.