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Wednesday, 15 August 2012
Page: 8712


Mr PERRETT (Moreton) (14:18): My question is also to the Treasurer. Will the Treasurer update the House about data released overnight in Europe? How does this contrast with the strong performance of the Australian economy and what does it say about this government's successful management of the economy?

Mr SWAN (LilleyDeputy Prime Minister and Treasurer) (14:18): I thank the member for Moreton for his question, because overnight we did receive more disturbing data from Europe. The euro area GDP contracted by 0.2 per cent in the June quarter, to 0.4 per cent below its level of a year ago. This means that Europe's economy is now two per cent smaller relative to its pre-GFC levels four years on. There could not be a starker contrast between what is happening in Europe and what is happening in our country.

Our country is now 10 per cent bigger than it was when that crew over there was last in government. One of the reasons it is 10 per cent bigger is the policies we have put in place to protect small business and to protect workers in this country during the global financial crisis and the global recession. Because we did that we are a more prosperous community, but we are also a fairer community. We protected small businesses and we protected the workforce at a time of international contraction, so much so that we have an unemployment rate of 5.2 per cent in Australia—half the rate that is seen in Europe of 11.2 per cent. A total of 800,000 jobs have been created in this country under the government. Of course, we are not weighed down by excessive debt. We have a gold-plated, AAA credit rating from three major global agencies for the first time in our history.

It does not matter how high our economy jumps, the Leader of the Opposition is always trying to tear it down. Now he has been joined in that endeavour by the Premier of Queensland, who goes out talking down the state economy in Queensland—joining here with the Leader of the Opposition to talk down our economy. That is shameful, because in this environment we have a world-leading economy. Yes, we have challenges, we have a higher dollar, we have cautious consumers, but we understand that we have a bright future—not only creating prosperity but also spreading opportunity. That is why we on this side of the House are supporting tax breaks for 2.7 million small businesses. Who is opposing that? The Liberals. That is why we on this side of the House are supporting families to get their share of the mining boom with additional family payments. And it is why we are providing an additional boost to superannuation for over eight million workers in this country, because we understand how important it is not just to create prosperity but also to spread opportunity right around our country. Every time we put in place policies to do that, we are opposed by those opposite who talk down our economy and who want to give a tax cut to the big end of town by getting rid of the MRRT. They would rather give a tax cut to Clive Palmer than support Australian workers—and that says a lot about their priorities. (Time expired)