Wednesday, 5 December 2018
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Prime Minister. Today's national accounts confirm that, over the last quarter, Australia's economic growth rate has gone down and living standards have fallen. Growth in household consumption is now the weakest it has been in more than five years, and over the last year corporate profits have grown six times faster than wages. Doesn't this just prove that, while this government is busy fighting itself, everything is going up except people's wages?
One thing's for certain: we on this side of the House won't talk down the Australian economy. We won't talk down the Australian economy, and that's because today's national accounts reveal that the Australian economy is still growing strongly. At 2.8 per cent, it's faster than the OECD average and faster than any G7 country except the United States. That's our economic record. Over 1.1 million new jobs have been created. We're one of only 10 nations in the world to have a AAA credit rating from the three leading credit-rating agencies. Unemployment has come down to five per cent, the lowest level since 2012, and, as the Prime Minister has pointed out numerous times to this chamber, over 100,000 young people have got a job over the last financial year.
That is our record, compared to those opposite. When they were in government, debt was rising and unemployment was rising, and they had no plan for the economy of Australia. Let me just remind the House of a few numbers. Today's national accounts have revealed that GDP growth is 2.8 per cent. What was it when Labor was last in office, in September 2013, when we came to government? It was 2.1 per cent. GDP-per-capita growth averaged just 0.5 per cent in Labor's last year in office. What is GDP-per-capita growth today? It was 0.5 per cent when Labor was in office; today it's 1.2 per cent. Compensation of employees is now 4.3 per cent. What was it in Labor's last year in office? It was 3.2 per cent.
It doesn't matter which economic data, which indicator, you look at today; we are doing better than Labor ever did. We are growing the economy. We're creating more jobs. We've seen our AAA credit rating reaffirmed, and next year we will deliver the first budget surplus in more than a decade.
My question is to the Prime Minister. Will the Prime Minister update the House on how the government is protecting the standard of living of Australians and securing their future opportunities by making Australia even stronger?
I thank the member for Boothby for her question. She asks me about protecting the standard of living of Australians and securing future opportunities. The way we're doing that is that we're running a strong economy, and we have been from the day we came into office. From that day to now, more than 1.1 million jobs have been created. In the last 12 months, over 100,000 young people got a job, the strongest growth in youth employment in Australia's economic history. Unemployment has come down to five per cent, with 50,000 fewer people unemployed than at the last election—the lowest level of welfare dependency of the working-age population in more than 25 years. That's the economy we're running.
Today's national accounts show that nominal GDP growth was 5.2 per cent through the year. That's above the 4.5 per cent forecasted assumption for 2017-18, which was under the most recent budget. For this current year, the forecast was 3.75 per cent. The nominal growth outcome, which is running already in this first quarter of the year, is running ahead of what the budget was projecting for this year. That means that our budget is on track. That means that, on 2 April next year, our government will bring down the first surplus budget in more than a decade, because we know how to run a strong economy.
The fact that we can bring the budget back into surplus means that we're able to increase funding for schools by $37.6 billion. Per student funding is up, on average, by 62 per cent. That's what you can do when you get the budget back in balance and when you can get the economy running in the right direction. It enables you to put a rolling program of $75 billion into infrastructure, including over half a billion dollars into important water infrastructure that is giving us resilience against droughts into the future. It enables you to do $144 billion worth of personal income tax cuts. Those personal income tax cuts were legislated by this government and were put in this year's budget, and they were opposed by the Labor Party. If they were elected, they would wipe out half of those tax cuts for hardworking Australians.
On top of that, it enables us to keep Australians safe. This morning I announced that, in this financial year alone, we're putting in $26 million extra to ensure we're providing critical emergency capabilities, especially in relation to bushfires, so that we can get greater capabilities out of the big jets and so we can increase the warning programs and the communications devices that are there to assist people in the middle of critical bushfires. We know that, as we go into this bushfire season, it will be one of the most difficult and one of the most hazardous for the Australian population. When you run a strong economy, you can pay for the things that Australians rely on. You can give them that absolute guarantee that a strong economy delivers.