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Tuesday, 30 October 2012
Page: 12539

Asian Century

Mr MURPHY (Reid) (14:22): My question is to the Treasurer.

The SPEAKER: The member for Reid will resume his seat. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition, I am not going to ask the Leader of the House to withdraw the statement, because I think if you trawl through Hansard you will find that on numerous occasions those very words have been used and have been allowed. I have warned the Leader of the House. I think that is sufficient on this occasion.

Mr MURPHY: My question is to the Treasurer. Treasurer, will you update the House on the opportunities the Asian century brings for Australia. Treasurer, how is the government putting in place the right policy settings to make sure all Australians can benefit from this?

Mr SWAN (LilleyDeputy Prime Minister and Treasurer) (14:23): I thank the member for Reid for that question, because Asia is undergoing a profound transformation: it is set to be the biggest economic region in the world by the end of the decade.

Opposition members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Order! The Treasurer will resume his seat. The member for Kooyong is warned.

Mr Schultz interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Hume is also warned.

Mr SWAN: Speaker, I was asked a question by the member for Reid about the opportunities for the future in the Asian century—something that everyone on this side of House is intensely focused on, because we understand that to create prosperity for the future, to spread opportunity in our country, we have to be fairly and squarely focused on the region, and how we can maximise the opportunities for growth in the region. And that is what the government has done through the Asian century whitepaper. It is a positive plan for the future.

Contrast that to the mud bucket being thrown by those opposite. We have had two questions today: all the mud slingers are out there. They have no plans for the future. We on this side of the House are going to focus on positive plans for the future. We understand that the opportunities in the region that will flow our way can create enormous wealth for Australia if we maximise those opportunities from the growth in the region.

We understand those opportunities will come in agriculture. We understand those opportunity will come in services. They will come in education. They will come in tourism. And they will come in a whole host of professional fields. And we also understand that those opportunities will come in manufacturing if we have a plan for the future and if we have the capacity to invest in lifting our productivity—in expanding the capacity of our economy.

Just today I was talking to 25 Chinese leaders across the road who have come here to study Australia to see how we can have closer economic relations so we can both benefit in the 21st century. What that was all about is understanding what we must do. As the Prime Minister said before, we have got to invest in education and skills. That is the key to lifting our productivity in the Asian century. We have got to invest in infrastructure. That is the key to lifting our productivity in the Asian century. We have got to reform, fundamentally, a whole host of areas of public policy, from regulation to tax. This is the positive approach of everybody on this side of the House, and it stands in stark contrast to how negative everyone on that side of the House is.

I am not a great follower of opinion polls, but I know one thing from recent polls: the Australian people have turned off the Leader of the Opposition. And they have turned off him because of how negative he is. He does not have a positive thing to say about this country. He talks the economy down every day. On this side of the House we will talk about the positives in Australia, because we believe in Australia.

Mrs Mirabella: Funny, they don't believe in you, Wayne!

The SPEAKER: The member for Indi is denying her colleague the call.