Monday, 5 February 2018
Questions without Notice
My question is also to the Minister for Finance representing the Treasurer, Senator Cormann, and may I also extend my congratulations on his new appointment. Can the minister provide an update to the Senate on the implementation of the government's plan for jobs and growth?
I thank Senator Hume for that very important question. Yes, I can. When we came to government in September 2013, the Australian economy was weakening, unemployment was rising and the budget position was rapidly deteriorating. Today, economic growth in Australia is stronger than in any of the G7 economies. In the 2017 calendar year, we had more than 400,000 new jobs created in the Australian economy. The news doesn't end there. In regional Australia, 120,000 jobs were created over the last year, outpacing growth in the working age population by nearly two to one. The participation rate is 0.9 per cent higher than 12 months ago. The female participation rate is over 60 per cent, an all-time high. There are now 511,700 more Australians in jobs created over the last two years.
Senator Cameron interjecting—
Senator Cameron doesn't like to listen to this positive economic news. He knows that if Labor is in government sometime in the future, all of that would go downhill because they would impose higher taxes and more red tape and be less sympathetic to open markets and free trade.
Today we had the release of the ANZ jobs index, which shows that job advertisements have increased by 6.2 per cent in January to be 13.8 per cent higher over the past year. It is very obvious that our plan for jobs and growth is working. But we haven't got a plan for jobs and growth from the Labor Party. All we get from the Labor Party is the politics of envy, higher taxes and more negativity.
Business conditions sit at 13 per cent up. This is well above the long-run average of plus five. Business confidence showed a strong increase to be at plus 11 points and remains well above the long-run average. Capital expenditure expectations are at plus nine points after a very strong result for November, at plus 14 points. Australia's exports are up 6.4 per cent compared to a year ago. These are all things that the Labor Party is not interested in. (Time expired)
The senator at the back there says perhaps a little bit of wages growth. Well, you know what? Wages are actually growing above inflation. If the senator on the Labor side was really interested in stronger wages growth, he would vote in favour of business tax cuts. Any sensible economist will tell you that a lower, more competitive business tax rate will boost investment, boost productivity and increase real wages over time.
Don't take my word for it. That is what former Treasury secretary Ken Henry used to say when Labor was in government. When Senator Wong was the minister for finance, she was out there campaigning for lower corporate tax rates. I've got a plethora of quotes from Senator Wong where she's singing the virtues of a lower, more competitive company tax rate. But political opportunism and the politics of envy in Bill Shorten's left-wing agenda are all designed to play into some sort of populist—
Opposition senators interjecting—
The biggest risk is that the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Shorten, continues to put political opportunism, the politics of envy and an increasingly socialist agenda ahead of the best interests of the Australian people. The Australian people need businesses across Australia to be as successful and as profitable as possible so they can hire more Australians and pay better wages. Mr Shorten clearly doesn't understand that nine out of 10 working Australians work for a private sector business. By Mr Shorten standing in the way of their future success and profitability, he is essentially being a serious risk to our future economic growth and jobs. We've got the United States reducing the corporate tax rate to 21 per cent, the United Kingdom going down to 17 per cent and even France talking about taking it down to 25 per cent. If we don't ensure that our tax settings are internationally competitive, we are sending jobs and investment overseas.