House debates

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

Questions without Notice


2:02 pm

Photo of Bridget ArcherBridget Archer (Bass, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Prime Minister. Will the Prime Minister advise the House how the Morrison government's stable and certain economic management is strengthening the nation's finances while investing in the infrastructure and services that Australians need now and into the future?

Photo of Scott MorrisonScott Morrison (Cook, Liberal Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Bass for her question. Responsible economic management is about making the right decisions to balance the financial resilience of the country, investing in growth and ensuring that we keep the budget in good order. I can say that Standard & Poor's has today said that our government is getting this balance right and making the right decisions. I refer the House to the statement by S&P Global Ratings that strong fiscal outcomes are key to Australia's AAA credit rating. It says the Australian government is on target to return its budget to surplus after a decade in deficit:

… we believe Australia's outlook is sound and forecast growth of about 2.4 per cent between 2020 and 2022.

We expect growth to be supported by strong population growth, public expenditure, low unemployment, more policy certainty following the Commonwealth government election in May, and stabilising property prices in Sydney and Melbourne.

This growth compares well to Australia's AAA peers. It also notes that there have been growing calls for the government to increase fiscal stimulus:

If this fiscal stimulus involves substantial spending initiatives and changes the trajectory of the budget, then doing so could increase downward pressure on our rating and outlook for Australia.

While spending initiatives are likely to support the economy, they're also likely to weaken Australia's fiscal flexibility to respond to future unforeseen economic shocks.

What our government is doing is investing in our economy and guaranteeing the essentials that Australians rely on from a position of fiscal and financial strength. And that has occurred as a result of the careful and disciplined economic management of this government over these last six successive budgets. That investment, achieved without putting up taxes, achieved without driving the budget into deficit and that is now being undertaken as we reduce debt, says of our government that we can put $9½ billion extra into the economy this year and next year we can do that through low-tax relief, by our stimulus investments into drought-affected areas and also through the bringing forward of infrastructure investments—some $1.8 billion in this year and next year alone.

But there's also some $3 billion in additional investment that is going into our defence industries, a key part of what has been our economic program over many years. We are investing from a position of fiscal strength. The Labor Party would return us to the days of fiscal panic.