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Thursday, 9 February 2012
Page: 609


Dr LEIGH (Fraser) (14:15): My question is to the Treasurer. Will the Treasurer outline to the House the importance of maintaining policies that support economic growth and jobs growth?

Mr SWAN (LilleyDeputy Prime Minister and Treasurer) (14:15): I thank the member from Canberra for that very important question, because we on this side of the House understand the importance of policies that promote growth and support jobs. The dignity of work and the opportunities that come from earning a decent living are absolutely fundamental to what we on this side of the House believe. We are not called the Australian Labor Party for nothing, because we believe in the dignity of work and we believe in the importance of supporting jobs, and that is why we acted so decisively during the global financial crisis and the global recession. And that is why we are proud of the fact that unemployment is at 5.2 per cent and that is why we are so engaged in working with those sectors of the economy that are impacted by a higher dollar, because we understand the importance of supporting employment and making sure that we have got modern industry which is both productive and competitive because we understand the importance of jobs to the security and wellbeing of our population. That is why we are so committed to delivering a surplus in 2012-13. We will deliver a surplus in 2012-13 because that is the appropriate thing to do when you have got an economy growing at trend. But that is not a belief which is shared by those opposite. We have got the three stooges of their economic team—

The SPEAKER: Order! The Treasurer would assist the chamber if he were to withdraw that reference.

Mr SWAN: Yes, I withdraw, Mr Speaker. We have got the Leader of the Opposition and we have got the shadow Treasurer and the shadow finance spokesman, who have all abandoned their commitment to a surplus. Despite all of the time asserting that deficits produce higher interest rates and they are going to mean the end of the world, they have now abandoned their commitment to a surplus not just in 2012-13 but in the years that follow that as well, Mr Speaker. And what is one of the reasons why they have done that? Well, I can tell you one of them: so that they can give a big fat tax cut to Gina Rinehart and Clive Palmer. That is one of their objectives. That is why their budget is completely out of control. We also know it is out of control because the shadow Treasurer has now confessed that he really did say there was a $70 billion crater in their budget bottom line.

The SPEAKER: Order! The Treasurer will return to be directly relevant to the question, which asked about economic growth and jobs growth.

Mr SWAN: Most certainly, because I am talking about the importance of a surplus, and there is the attitude of the member for Wentworth the other night on The 730 Report as there was a really wry smile when he was asked about the shadow Treasurer. We on this side of the House are committed to delivering a surplus to support jobs. We can do that to make sure that the people of this country are secure. Those opposite simply want to wreck our economy.

Honourable members interjecting—

Mr Albanese: Mr Speaker, on a point of order: the Leader of the Opposition's interjection directed towards yourself as Speaker was quite clearly disorderly. It is not up to any member of this chamber to cast aspersions on the Speaker.

The SPEAKER: I have been around in politics long enough to know that you have got to have broad shoulders and I think the leader knows he was skating pretty close to the mark. I am prepared to let it go.