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Wednesday, 6 December 2006
Page: 77

Mr RUDD (2:45 PM) —My question is again to the Prime Minister and relates to his previous answer in which he placed all blame on the drought for low growth figures released today. Prime Minister, isn’t it the case that the national accounts today show that productivity has not grown for the past 2½ years and has in fact fallen by 1.7 per cent in the last six months?

Mr Pyne interjecting

The SPEAKER —Order! The member for Sturt!

Mr RUDD —Prime Minister, don’t these figures show that your industrial relations policies are failing to deliver the productivity required to deliver tomorrow’s prosperity?

Honourable members interjecting—

Mr HOWARD (Prime Minister) —No, it is not a good question because, firstly, I did not attribute all of the result to the drought. I made that very clear. But, significantly, if farm production is down by 10 per cent and if it is 11.4 per cent down over the year, it is a major factor. In relation to productivity, the fall in the quarter of 0.4 per cent is largely accounted for by the large employment growth of 1.2 per cent or 117,000 people in the September quarter. So I suggest that the Leader of the Opposition should read the accounts more closely.