House debates

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Prime Minister and Treasurer

Suspension of Standing and Sessional Orders

3:05 pm

Photo of Wayne SwanWayne Swan (Lilley, Australian Labor Party, Treasurer) Share this | Hansard source

This is a classic case of overreach from a dying leader. He never gets fired up about jobs for Australians. He only gets fired up about one thing: his own job. Of course we have all the huffing and puffing from the shadow Treasurer up there trying to tell all of his colleagues how he is better qualified than the Leader of the Opposition. We had a defining moment in Australian politics a couple of weeks ago. The Leader of the Opposition went to the Press Club the week before the budget and he said, ‘Labor’s stimulus packages have not created one job.’ That is what he said. All the evidence has been presented in this chamber over the past few days of jobs that are being supported by this government. The core of our budget is to support jobs. If it was not for our budget, many more people would over time become unemployed.

What they resent in the budget forecasts, and what they resent in the budget projections, is that we are doing everything within our power to support employment in the Australian community. So when we talk about the school modernisation program, when we talk about nation building for recovery, when we talk about roads, rails and ports, we are talking about jobs. We are talking about Australian jobs for Australian families. There is one thing about the Labor Party: when times are tough, we look after families and we look after our community. Those opposite are so out of touch, so unable to comprehend the nature of the economic challenge facing this nation, that they do not understand the need for stimulus. The Leader of the Opposition does not walk in the same shopping aisles as average Australians, and neither do many on that front bench. That is why they do not support economic stimulus.

We support employment in the Australian community. We were prepared to do something about the age pension. We stand up for our principles. We must protect our people, and we are protecting our people in the teeth of this savage global recession by responsibly putting in place economic stimulus. And who opposes that? The Liberal and National parties, who famously came into this House and said their approach is to sit and to wait and to see—to see many more people, hundreds of thousands of people, relegated to the unemployment queues. That is what this debate is about, because they will not admit that the responsible thing to do right now is to invest in the future and to support jobs in our community, and that is what we are doing. And we are borrowing responsibly and we are going to pay down the debt over time responsibly. We are doing all of those things.

We have had a discussion about what is or is not in the budget papers. These budget papers have been the most comprehensive that have been produced in this parliament—much more comprehensive than anything that has been produced by those opposite and certainly much more comprehensive than anything that was produced by the member for Higgins. We have got estimates for two years—2009-10 and 2010-11. We have got projections for 2011-12. We have got medium-term projections for the budget and for net debt right through to 2019-20. When has that ever happened before? Never. And they have got the hide to come into this House and pretend that we have not been open and transparent. You could not be more open and you could not be more transparent than we have been in these budget papers. It is not our fault that the shadow Treasurer cannot read them. It is just not our fault. He might want to blame us for his inability to actually read the budget papers—and he could not do it in the House here yesterday when he made the preposterous claim that we needed surpluses of two per cent of GDP for eight years. It was disproved by the very graph that he was holding up in the House. He got away with it today but it will not be forgotten, because what it demonstrates is the absolute incompetence of the shadow Treasurer.


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