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Tuesday, 14 February 2017
Page: 927


Mr PASIN (Barker) (14:12): My question is to the Treasurer. Will the Treasurer update the House on the action the government is taking to promote investment that creates jobs and reduces cost-of-living pressures on hardworking Australian families? Is the Treasurer aware of any alternative approaches that put the Australian economy at a competitive disadvantage?

Mr MORRISON (CookTreasurer) (14:12): I thank the member for Barker for his question. I know he also was interested today in the meeting that the Prime Minister and I had with South Australians who have come and are sharing the many challenges that they are facing.

Nine out of 10 jobs in the Australian economy are in the private sector. Hardworking Australians and their families depend on the success of those businesses for the jobs they have, for the hours they are able to work and for the incomes they are able to earn, to ensure that they can meet the cost pressures that are on their family budgets.

That is why I am pleased to see today that today's NAB monthly survey shows the following: some good news in terms of how the private sector is getting on and taking an optimistic outlook about the future. Business conditions, according to the survey today, are the strongest result we have seen in almost a decade, since October 2007. Business confidence is back to a three-year high—the best figure we have seen since February 2014. In fact, Alan Oster, the chief economist from NAB, has said: if sustained, confidence at these levels could see firms revise up their capital expenditure and hiring plans. For actual capital expenditure, it was the strongest result seen since the Howard-Costello government was last in office—when the coalition was last in office before this government. Employment conditions have strengthened to the strongest we have seen since June 2011.

While acknowledging some seasonal factors in these figures, what we are seeing is a business outlook which wants to get on with things and do things. That is why, on this side of the House, we are backing businesses and, in particular, small businesses, who we want to support to pay less tax, to ensure that they can get access to things like the instant asset write-off. And we are talking about companies that have half a dozen employees, that have a turnover of $2½ million a year. We want to give them that support, but those opposite stand in the way of that support for these businesses who are clearly saying they want to get out there, they want to employ people and they want to seize the opportunities and the improving economic outlook that we are starting to see not just here but around the world.

The other thing those businesses want to do is have affordable energy for their future. As the Prime Minister said today, the Chair of the Committee for Adelaide, Colin Goodall, said that South Australia is the canary in the coalmine. Do not be frightened. I said 'coal'. Do not be too scared. Get over your coalophobia. Embrace the all-of-the-above approach of this government, which says, 'We want to ensure energy affordability for small businesses and large businesses, because they want to get on with things.' All those opposite want to do is engage in the politics of opposition and put a roadblock in the face of Australian businesses who just want to give Australians jobs.