House debates

Monday, 24 June 2013

Questions without Notice


2:26 pm

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

My question is to the Prime Minister. Will the Prime Minister update the House on how the government is building a stronger and smarter economy and creating a fairer future for Australia?

Photo of Julia GillardJulia Gillard (Lalor, Australian Labor Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Deakin for his question and his focus on jobs and growth in his electorate. This morning I had the opportunity to address the Committee for Economic Development of Australia, or CEDA, as it is known. CEDA are here to participate in a rational discussion about the future of the Australian economy and, because they are interested in the facts, my message to them was that irrational threats to confidence are a threat to jobs and growth. Of course, there will always be legitimate debate about the policies to best guide Australia's economic future, but what there should not be are irrational assessments that are designed to smash confidence and to mislead the Australian people. It is important therefore that our nation recognises that based on the most recent information, the national accounts for March, we have an economy that is continuing to grow solidly, at 2.5 per cent; new business investment, around 50-year highs as a share of GDP, at around 17.5 per cent; non-rural commodity export volumes growing, and that is showing the move from the peak investment phase in mining to the peak of the production phase; and new dwelling investment showing the strongest annual growth in 10 years, further evidence of the non-resource sectors of the economy picking up.

What we have seen recently too is a moderation in the value of the Australian dollar. Whilst our national accounts have been misrepresented in some quarters, so has the dialogue about the dollar been simple and calibrated to frighten people. Indeed, there are some people who have said as the dollar went up that it is bad for business and then said as the dollar has come down that it is also bad for business. Well, the truth about what is happening with the dollar is we are seeing particularly more growth in the American economy that is to be welcomed as an injection into the global economy, and of course that has an effect on our currency and that effect does make it easier for those in manufacturing, in tourism, in export industries to ply their trade.

Against all of this backdrop, solid growth, low unemployment, low government debt, AAA credit ratings from each of the three major ratings agencies, we are continuing to invest to build our country's economic future: investing in our people, investing in our infrastructure, investing in the National Broadband Network, the key infrastructure of the future, and investing in a clean energy future in accordance with what people like former Prime Minister Howard acknowledged was the cheapest and most effective way to bring change—all of it designed to build a stronger, smarter and fairer Australia.