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Thursday, 11 May 2000
Page: 16303

Mr McARTHUR (2:04 PM) —My question is directed to the Prime Minister. Would the Prime Minister inform the House of the employment figures which were released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics this morning? What do these figures indicate about the success of the government's economic policies?

Mr HOWARD (Prime Minister) —I thank the member for Corangamite for his question. In response let me say that I have undeniably very good news for this House. As a result of the figures released this morning, I can inform the House that since March of 1996 almost 700,000 new jobs have been created in Australia. That is a direct result of the economic policies that were opposed by the Australian Labor Party. Not only did the Australian Labor Party run up $80 billion of debt in five years, and not only have we had to remove that debt—at the end of this coming budget cycle we will have taken $50 billion out of that $80 billion of Labor debt—but on top of that at every turn the Labor Party has opposed our attempts to reform the Australian economy. That would have been bad enough if economic reform were some kind of ideological or academic debate between the political parties, but it is not. Economic reform delivers flesh and blood social outcomes. There are 700,000 beneficiaries of the economic policies of this government. There are 700,000 Australians of all ages who now have jobs as a result of the policies Mr Beazley opposed. It is quite a double to run up $80 billion of debt in five years and then try to stop your successors tidying up that mess. To add insult to injury, you opposed every single attempt to generate 700,000 jobs for the Australian people.

I am proud of what this government has done in the area of job generation. I thank the Minister for Workplace Relations, Employment and Small Business for the contribution that he has made with his industrial relations reforms. It has not only been the economic policies led by the Treasurer, but also it has been the industrial relations reforms and all the other policies—the training policies of the Minister for Education, the employment services policies of the Minister for Employment Services. The good news is that 700,000 more Australians now have jobs as a result of the policies of this government. Those 700,000 people will remember the Leader of the Opposition for leaving us with an $80 billion debt in only five years and also for having opposed every measure of the government designed to generate those 700,000 new jobs.