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Thursday, 29 October 2009
Page: 7639


Senator HURLEY (3:07 PM) —I also rise to speak to the motion to take note of answers. Question time and take note of answers has, again, targeted the economic stimulus. After the report of the Senate Economics References Committee on the economic stimulus package, you would have thought that the Liberal Party would have learnt their lesson. They fronted up day after day to that inquiry to be told that they were wrong. They were told that they were wrong by senior officials in Treasury, they were told they were wrong by the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia and they were told that the stimulus package was appropriate, that it was targeted and that it would wind down over time in an appropriate fashion. The only recourse the opposition have is to shut their ears to all of that advice and steamroll ahead on a policy that they had, because they have nowhere else to go. They have got no policy on this matter, they have no credibility on it; all they can do is power ahead on the tram track they have created for themselves.

We have people from the Liberal Party on the economics committee deliberately not listening to answers because they are the answers that they do not want to hear. We have had not only the Treasury and the Reserve Bank of Australia saying that Australia was on the right track and had done well but also the IMF and the OECD. We do not need economics writers in the Australian or from overseas to comment on this matter, because the answer is in our figures; the figures that Australia is producing—the growth, the jobs and the interest rate figures show that Australia has been doing well, compared to every other developed country. So we do not need to argue against the opposition because the figures and facts speak for themselves.

The only way the opposition develops an argument is to ignore the facts. Senator Joyce, for example, will probably carry on about arbitrage between US interest rates and Australian interest rates, despite the fact that he asked these kinds of questions in the economics committee of the AOFM and of Treasury and was told that there is no evidence of arbitrage between interest rates, that anyone who did indulge in that practice would run a risk with hedging and the difference between currencies, and that it had been done previously and showed the risks of that. But Senator Joyce, not deterred, will carry on with that kind of argument. The opposition has nowhere to go on the economy and that is now reflected in the general polling that we are seeing. The Australian public understands that the Labor government has got this matter right. It introduced an immediate stimulus to counteract the problems of the global financial crisis; it had an intermediate stimulus, which is now being put through; and it has a long-term stimulus with infrastructure, which is badly needed by this country after more than a decade of neglect by the previous Howard government.

People understand that very clearly because it is simple, it is direct and it is the appropriate response to what has happened globally. That is recognised, it seems, by everyone but the opposition. To seize on inflation figures, as Senator Fifield has done, is to seize on an issue which the opposition have no credibility on. The Rudd Labor government developed the five-point plan as a result of the failed economic policies in the latter years of the Howard government. I almost feel sorry for the opposition. They continue to try to bolster their economic credentials, with very few feathers to fly. I do not wish them any further luck.