House debates

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Questions without Notice


2:07 pm

Photo of Mike SymonMike Symon (Deakin, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Treasurer. Will the Treasurer outline for the House the conclusions of the Reserve Bank’s Financial stability review, which was released today?

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

I certainly welcome the question. Today we have had the Reserve Bank’s half-yearly Financial stability review delivered, and it certainly does highlight the difficult global environment that we face. The report adds, I think, weight to the government’s view that we are not immune from global difficulties but we are certainly well placed to withstand the fallout. If I could just quote from the report:

While the Australian financial system has not been completely insulated from developments abroad, it is weathering the current difficulties much better than many other financial systems.

It also goes on to highlight the strengths of our financial system, which is very important at a time such as this. I quote:

The Australian financial system has coped better with the recent turmoil than many other financial systems. The banking system is soundly capitalised … and it continues to record strong profitability and has low levels of problem loans.

So the Reserve Bank stresses that we do not face the same problems as those that are at the core of the US financial market troubles. If I could quote again:

It is important to note, however, that the ratio of banks’ problem loans to total assets remains below the average since the mid 1990s, a period of unusually low credit losses.

This report underscores the strength of the IMF report yesterday—two reports which are very welcome. But the government is certainly not resting on its laurels.

There are some things we can control and there are some things that we cannot control. One of the things we can control is that we have built a strong surplus to act as a buffer against global uncertainly. I heard earlier the Leader of the Opposition pretend that he was in favour of bipartisanship. The fact that he could do that within 30 minutes of a vote in the Senate where the Liberal and National parties opposed the condensate measure is breathtaking. He would make a cat laugh! His hide is so thick. How can he on the one hand call for bipartisanship and then on the other blow the surplus apart in the Senate? It is like somebody calling for peace and then turning around and throwing a grenade. That is what it is like. It is entirely phoney.

We certainly welcome bipartisanship. We would welcome it at a time of global economic uncertainty. We certainly do thank those minor parties in the Senate and the Independents who voted for the condensate measure. We thank the Greens, we thank Senator Xenophon and we thank Senator Fielding. As the Acting Prime Minister said before, they have got more economic responsibility in their little fingers than those opposite have got in their whole bodies. The hide of them to come into this House and claim to be in favour of bipartisanship! And the hide of the new Leader of the Opposition to claim that he represents some new era of economic leadership!

Everybody knows that, at a time of global economic uncertainly, we need a strong surplus. This government has put a strong surplus together to act as a buffer and to fund investment for the future. That process has been given a huge tick by the IMF. If the opposition ever needed a reason to support the government’s budget measures in the Senate, it is contained in the Reserve Bank report today.

Photo of Malcolm TurnbullMalcolm Turnbull (Wentworth, Liberal Party, Leader of the Opposition) Share this | | Hansard source

Mr Speaker, on indulgence and very briefly, I just want to note—

Government Members:

Government members interjecting

Photo of Malcolm TurnbullMalcolm Turnbull (Wentworth, Liberal Party, Leader of the Opposition) Share this | | Hansard source

I think it is important in these times to note that the opposition endorses the comments of the Treasurer about the Financial Stability Review but, plainly, we do not agree with what he said about the surplus and—

Photo of Harry JenkinsHarry Jenkins (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

Order! The Leader of the Opposition will resume his seat. Indulgence is something that is not given lightly, and we should remember that in the future.