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Tuesday, 10 November 2015
Page: 8102


Senator BERNARDI (South Australia) (14:23): My question is to the Minister for Finance, Senator Cormann. Would the minister please advise the Senate of what the OECD Economic outlook, released yesterday, says about Australia's economy?

Senator CORMANN (Western AustraliaMinister for Finance and Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:23): I thank Senator Bernardi for that question. Overnight, indeed, the OECD released its Economic outlook publication on the world economy, a biannual publication. The OECD has forecast global growth for 2016 of 3.3 per cent, which is a bit less than previously forecast, picking up to 3.6 per cent in 2017. As a trading nation, what happens in the global economy matters to us, because we do not have direct control over it. What we do have direct control over, of course, is the policy choices we make here in Australia. The previous government, when we were facing global economic headwinds, decided to put more lead into our saddlebag, decided to make it harder for Australia to be successful economically and decided to spend more than we could afford given the economic outlook in front of us.

This government is focused on making sure we strengthen growth by being more competitive, by being more productive, by being more innovative and of course by making sure we are as resilient as possible in the face of inevitable future global economic shocks and are in the best possible position to take advantage of future global economic opportunities. The OECD in its report is providing a strong endorsement of our efforts, stating in its report—and maybe people on the Labor side should listen to this: 'The prospect of structural reforms such as in taxation adds to the upside risks'—that is, for Australia. They are talking about the government's focus on improving Australia's tax system, noting that a tax mix switch away from distorting income and transaction taxes 'would significantly improve the growth friendliness of Australia's tax system'. (Time expired)

Senator BERNARDI (South Australia) (14:25): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Would the minister please update the Senate on what the government is doing to further strengthen our economy to support growth, innovation and jobs?

Senator CORMANN (Western AustraliaMinister for Finance and Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:25): The Australian government is totally focused on strengthening the economy, on strengthening economic growth and on strengthening employment growth by making sure we are as productive, as innovative, as competitive and as agile as possible. Over the last three years we have made significant progress by getting rid of Labor's lead out of our saddlebags, by getting rid of the mining tax and the carbon tax, by reducing red-tape costs to business, by reducing company tax of small business, by not proceeding with Labor's bank tax, by pursuing ambitious free trade agendas and by pursuing an ambitious infrastructure investment program. And now we are focused on making sure that we even further improve the growth friendliness of our tax system.

On this side of the parliament our instinct is always for lower, simpler, fairer taxes, because we understand that lower, simpler, fairer taxes will help strengthen growth, will help strengthen job creation— (Time expired)

Senator BERNARDI (South Australia) (14:26): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Would the minister please inform the Senate of what future opportunities are being pursued by the government to drive future economic growth?

Senator CORMANN (Western AustraliaMinister for Finance and Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:26): As I was saying, we are focusing on making sure that our tax system helps to support stronger growth, helps to support stronger employment growth and helps to ensure that people across Australia have the best possible opportunity to get ahead. Over the last two years we have pursued a whole series of very important reforms and started the important job of budget repair coming into government. Moving forward, one of the major priorities for this government is to put an innovation package together, with innovation being the absolute centrepiece of our future economic success, and there will be an announcement in the not-too-distant future in relation to this. Later this week the Prime Minister and I will be travelling to Europe, where we will be seeking to build further on our ambitious free trade agenda, talking to the European Union about opportunities to negotiate a free trade agreement between Australia and the European Union—something the Labor Party would surely support. (Time expired)