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Tuesday, 18 September 2012
Page: 10994


Ms O'NEILL (Robertson) (14:05): My question is to the Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer. Will the Treasurer outline to the House the importance of making the right choices to support jobs?

Mr SWAN (LilleyDeputy Prime Minister and Treasurer) (14:06): I thank the member for Robertson for that question. When the worst global financial crisis in 80 years hit this country we had a really stark choice. We could sit back and let employment, jobs and small business hit the wall or we could intervene and support our economy. Of course, on this side of the House we chose to support jobs, we chose to support small business and we chose to support our economy. The consequence of that has been that we were one of the few advanced economies in the world that was not hit by recession and we did not suffer the really high and prolonged unemployment that we are now seeing in many developed economies and the capital destruction, the destruction of small businesses, that we see elsewhere in the developed world.

But of course those on that side of the House had a different set of values, a different set of priorities. They said that we should not act. They said that we should not do anything. They said we should let that force run right through our economy and cause all of that damage in our economy. What that demonstrates is the priority that we on this side of the House give to jobs but also the priority that we give to communities. We understand the importance of the 800,000 jobs that have been created in this country while Labor has been in power, when around the rest of the world something like 27 million jobs have been lost elsewhere.

We also understood that when we moved to support our economy we would put in place strict fiscal rules to bring our budget back to surplus. Of course that involves difficult choices. But in making those choices we have always been guided by our values, guided by our priorities to support our communities and to support jobs.

Of course we believe that everybody should have a say in our prosperity, and we should spread the benefits right around our community. But those on the other side of the House have a different set of priorities. They are sitting there now ticking off savage cuts in Queensland, with the loss of something like 14,000 jobs, and all of the damage that causes not just for those individuals but to the communities in which they live. I am pleased that the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations today has announced a package of measures to assist unemployed Queenslanders get back into work—a very important package.

Because we have different values and we have different priorities from those on that side of the House, we will always try to build our community up by investing in skills, by investing in education. So I think there is a really stark choice in this House, between a Prime Minister and a Labor Party that are absolutely committed to investing in the future and the Tony Abbott that I know, who is completely stuck in the past—a choice between a Prime Minister who wants to build our nation up and the Tony Abbott that I know who wants to tear it down.