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Tuesday, 23 August 2011
Page: 9015


Mr NEUMANN (Blair) (14:30): My question is to the Treasurer. Will the Treasurer outline for the House the importance of putting in place policies to support the economy and jobs? What other options have been put forward and what is the government's response?

Mr Pyne: Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. While I do not normally take points of order on questions, clearly that one has to be hypothetical if it is directed to the Treasurer.

The SPEAKER: I am not going to take up the time of the chamber to consult with those that I needed to consult as to whether that is worth three days. The member for Sturt will remove himself from the chamber for one hour under standing order 94(a).

The member for Sturt then left the chamber.

The SPEAKER: I inform the rest of the chamber I was tempted to chance my arm. The Treasurer and Deputy Prime Minister has the call.

Mr SWAN (LilleyDeputy Prime Minister and Treasurer) (14:32): Thank you, Mr Speaker. Jobs have been the No. 1 priority of this government from day one. We understand the importance of employment in terms of peace of mind of a community. That is why we acted during the height of the global financial crisis to support our economy. There is nothing that this government is prouder of than the actions we took at that time to support employment security and, in particular, to support small businesses who were threatened by impacts in the global economy and a catastrophic loss of demand in the global economy. Because of our stimulus, Australia emerged virtually alone as a developed economy that did not go into recession, and what that meant was that hundreds of thousands of Australians stayed in jobs and hundreds of thousands of small businesses kept their doors open. That was a very important advantage for Australia as we go forward, because if you look around the world they did not have that experience. So now Australia has an unemployment rate almost half that in the United States. And if you look elsewhere in the developed world you can see the consequences not just on the economy but on the society from very high levels of unemployment.

So from our perspective on this side of the House we believe that you have to support jobs, and you have to support jobs through good fiscal policy and intelligent policies, particularly when it comes to investing in reform to make your economy more productive. That is why we are so proud of the fact that 750,000 jobs have been created in the time of this government.

I noticed before the member for Herbert laughed when the Prime Minister talked about the achievement of 750,000 jobs. This goes to the very core of why we are in parliament: to make a difference. Of course we are now in difficult times in terms of the global economy, but if you look around the world and you compare our unemployment rate to the unemployment rate in other developed economies you can see how well Australia has done. In the United States they have still lost seven million jobs in terms of where they were prior to the global financial crisis. We showed that we were prepared to step in and to put in place effective fiscal policy to prevent a recession, and that has delivered one of the strongest budgets in the Western world. So securing good jobs and responsibly managing our budget goes to the core of what this government wants to do for the future. We have done it in the past, but we are now doing it in a difficult environment, with growth slowing in the US and of course in Europe. What our patchwork economy means is that we have to go back and make sure that we put in place the fundamental reforms that will support employment in the future. What that means is spreading the benefits of the mining boom, giving a tax cut to the 2.7 million small businesses out there, not all of whom are in the fast lane of the mining boom. But, of course, those measures are opposed by those opposite. What it also means is that we must invest in skills, and that is why the $3 billion package was at the heart of the budget we brought down in May. It also means investing in critical infrastructure, most particularly the NBN, and it also means putting in place good fiscal policy and bringing the budget back to surplus. It also means putting a price on carbon so we can drive the jobs of the future in the clean energy economy.

The Leader of the Opposition was wandering around the place calling for an election. If you are going to call for an election, you have to have a policy. There is a $70 billion hole in the bottom line of those opposite and that is before they get any new policies. That includes a $500 million cut to assistance to the manufacturing industry. We on this side of the House will get on with the job of delivering good policy. (Time expired)