Tuesday, 23 February 2016
Questions without Notice
I thank the member for Dobell for her question. Australia is benefitting from being in the fastest-growing region in the global economy. That is a great fortune, but we have to work hard to take advantage of that. Within the next two decades, East Asia will have more middle-class consumers than anywhere else in the world. Those middle-class consumers are the source of the diverse growth that is enabling us successfully to transition from an economy that was led by a mining and construction boom to one that is going to be led by innovation, by services and by soft commodities—a much more diverse source of economic activity.
Today we are reminded of the considerable growth opportunities for our services sector, with Qantas reporting its 2015 results—the strongest in its 95-year history. That is in large part a consequence of strong growth in Asia and a lower dollar, which has helped the resurgence of our tourism sector. Visitors to Australia rose to a record last December, with the Chinese market being the largest and fastest-growing source of tourists. Chinese short-term arrivals increased 9.2 per cent in December last year and, for the first time, reached over 100,000 arrivals in a month. We are seeing similar strength in exports of food. In the first half of this financial year, rural exports have grown 12.7 per cent, to be worth $22.38 billion. The agriculture sector is a key beneficiary of the free trade agreements signed by this government with the region's fastest-growing markets China, Korea and Japan.
Every element of our policy, of our plan, is focused on growth and jobs. We have talked about innovation. We talk about trade. We talk about infrastructure. We look at the $50 billion infrastructure program we have and the way in which we have turned the NBN around so that it is rolling out faster than ever and at much lower cost. The fact is that every single element that supports growth and jobs is being developed, exploited and promoted by the government. That is why we are seeing strong performance in the economy, strong growth in business confidence, strong growth in jobs and participation and, as we have seen, strong performance by some of our leading companies.