Wednesday, 19 June 2013
Questions without Notice
Speaker, my question is to Treasurer. Treasurer, how has Australia built a strong economy in the face of the worst global economic challenge in 80 years? And how will investing in smarter schools and fairer communities make sure we remain strong and prosperous?
I thank the member for that question. Australia does have a combination of economic strengths that are unrivalled elsewhere in the developed world. Australia is the world's twelfth-largest economy. Overnight we have had the G8 meeting in Northern Ireland. I think it pays a little just to think about comparisons between those G8 economies and the Australian economy, because I think this does demonstrate our economic strengths that are not acknowledged—particularly by those opposite.
than every single G8 economy. Our unemployment rate is lower than every G8 economy bar one, and our debt is a fraction of the debt of the G8 economies. So Australia is in a very different position, and we are in a very different position because our top priority from day one has been to put jobs and economic growth first—and that stands in stark contrast to some of the economic strategies that have been applied in the G8. Vicious austerity programs have not worked in the G8 and the contrast is there: the Australian economy 14 per cent larger than it was at the end of 2007; the British economy, for example, four per cent lower than it was at the end of 2007.
The contrasts are very clear but, of course, in the face of this evidence, in the face of these facts, those opposite go out and talk our economy down all of the time. One of the areas where they do it is when it comes to the strength of our public finances. Our net debt is 11.4 per cent of GDP—far, far lower than any net debt across the other developed economies—and this low level of borrowings has served as the buffer to enable us to strengthen our economy to support jobs and growth. And, of course, this is acknowledged by most credible participants in our national economic conversation, with the exception of the Tea Party-ers who sit opposite. It is recognised in particular by the major global rating agencies. The three major global rating agencies have got a AAA rating with a stable outlook for Australia. There are only nine countries in that category, of which Australia is one.
So we have promoted jobs and growth in this country, and our approach stands in stark contrast to that of those opposite who say they will take out the axe and they will viciously cut public expenditure, particularly when it comes to health and education and the impact of that on jobs. We also understand that in this environment it is important to invest for the future, to invest for the prosperity of tomorrow, which is why we are focused on investment in education—once again opposed by those opposite, thereby demonstrating they have not got a clue about economic growth— (Time expired)