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Monday, 15 November 2010
Page: 2209

Mr SIDEBOTTOM (2:37 PM) —My question is to the Treasurer. Will you please update the House on the economic and fiscal outlook for Australia?

Mr SWAN (Treasurer) —I thank the member for Braddon for his question. The midyear update showed that the Australian economy continues to be well ahead of the pack. When many of our peers are suffering double-digit unemployment, job creation is strong. We have strong economic growth, forecast to be 3¼ per cent in 2010-11 and 3¾ per cent in 2011-12, but it is the job figures that are particularly important here. Australia has created since November 2007 over 650,000 jobs and in the next 18 months we are looking to the creation of something like 380,000 jobs—almost one million jobs. That is a stunning achievement for the Australian economy, a stunning achievement of the Australian people, and I would have thought that it is something that those on the other side of the House should be applauding. We have falling unemployment—down to 4½ per cent by mid-2012. The other thing we have is a very strong pipeline of investment. Private investment in major projects around this country continues to be strong and grows stronger almost by the week. Of course, the budget is coming back to surplus in three years—in 2012-13. As the Prime Minister was saying before, not only is that strong but we are delivering the fastest fiscal consolidation seen in this country since the 1960s—4½ per cent of GDP, a much quicker return to surplus because of the policies that this government is putting in place to return the budget to surplus. It is returning it to surplus because we have strict spending rules. We are holding real spending growth to two per cent and we are ensuring that every new dollar that is spent is offset. This is disciplined economic management which is producing results.

You can see this applauded in the OECD survey today, which points to the fact that the Australian economy is one of the strongest in the developed world. It says that the policies that were put in place during the global crisis in Australia were the most effective in the entire OECD. It goes on to talk about our disciplined fiscal exit strategy. I quote:

… limiting government spending rises to 2% per annum over an extended period is a relatively bold objective, especially as spending has grown on average by over 4% per annum since the early 1970s.

That includes during the period that those opposite were in government for 11 years. We are doing something that they could not dare contemplate. We are putting in place strict spending discipline and a range of policies to deal with mining boom mark 2, which are also applauded by the OECD today. What we see from the OECD is a resounding endorsement of the government’s economic strategy. What we see from the other side is continual carping, talking the economy down, refusing to recognise what the Australian economy is doing relative to our peers and refusing to recognise the successes of the Australian economy and the Australian workforce and business people.

Mr Pyne —Mr Speaker, a point of order: the question was very short and it basically went to the current fiscal settings. It had nothing to do with the opposition’s position or policies. I would ask you to rule what he is saying out of order.

The SPEAKER —The Manager of Opposition Business will resume his seat. The Treasurer will relate his response directly to the question.

Mr SWAN —We will continue to get on with the job of building a stronger economy and putting in place positive policies for the future to support jobs and future prosperity.