MPI – Australian economy
Mr PITT: Firstly, can I congratulate the member for Lilley for turning out for Queensland this morning. She had a crack and played pretty well, I have to say. So when it comes to sport, we are all on the same side. But in terms of the economy and what we are doing for the Australian nation, we are on a different page. As you know, Mr Deputy Speaker Hogan, I very clearly remember the last recession, as do a number of people in this building. The last recession was the recession we had to have, according to Paul Keating, but we now have the opposition wanting to talk us into another one.
We have an opposition, a Labor Party, that want to talk down the Australian economy. I am still staggered they would do this. There is real risk. Those opposite might not think that this happens, but there are individuals out there who listen to you. You have a very important position in this parliament and, when it comes to our country and the confidence of our businesses and what people do every single day, they hear what you say. We need to ensure that we do everything we possibly can to continue forward to build our economy, to provide opportunities, because we cannot go around talking down the Australian economy. We cannot go around telling mums and dads to put their wallets and purses away when it’s time to be out there doing what they need to.
There is no risk. We have an AAA credit rating—still—and 28 years of economic growth. I mean, the last quarterly figures weren’t a negative number. It wasn’t 0.1, 0.2, 0.3 or 0.4; it was a half a per cent growth. We haven’t gone backwards. We still haven’t had the effects of the tax cuts come into those statistics. That will happen in the next quarter. There are true opportunities for our economy, for our businesses, and we are doing everything we possibly can as a government to provide the structures for those businesses to be successful and to employ more Australians because, for me, in this place, that is what this is about.
We need to ensure that every single Australian has an opportunity to be at work, to pay their own way, to ensure they can pay for their houses and for their families and for their children to go to school, and we should not be talking down the businesses and the economy that provide those opportunities ever. So I say to those opposite: think about a different line of attack because this is a great nation and we should continue to support it every single day and at every opportunity that we are in front of a microphone or in front of the media. So shame on you for what you have been doing because we are delivering.
The Australian people had a choice at the last election. Those opposite put forward their plan for the economy. I have to say, there was a turning point in that campaign, and it came from a gentleman called Jonathan Lee, a reporter for Channel Ten who put to the then Leader of the Opposition: ‘What will your environmental policies cost the economy and the Australian people?’ Mr Shorten, the member for Maribyrnong—he might be the member for a different area now; I am uncertain—the former Leader of the Opposition, could not or would not answer. What that said to every single person who saw that interview was that he either didn’t know what it would cost or that it was so expensive that he did not want to say.
The Australian people made their choice. When it came down to who they trust to run the economy, they have come to the coalition for good reason. They have voted for us again. It is our third term for good reason, because what was put forward by those opposite, they did not accept. It is that straightforward. I know it is very difficult for those opposite to accept the Australian people didn’t vote for their proposition. But, quite simply, they did not. Now we will continue to deliver what it is we said we would do.
The government has $100 billion on the table for infrastructure growth. If you look at my electorate, unemployment there has been unacceptably high for far too long. But what I know is that in the last 12 months youth unemployment has dropped from almost 28 per cent to 18 per cent in just one year. Overall unemployment is down to 7.4 from 9.6 at the same time 12 months ago. That is a very, very positive result. We need to ensure we continue to do what it is we’ve been doing, and that is delivering for the Australian economy.
We are ensuring confidence for business. We are ensuring that they have options, particularly for trade. As you know, Deputy Speaker Hogan, trade in Australia means jobs, and more trade means more jobs. When we came into government, just 26 per cent of our two-way trade was covered by free trade agreements. We now have that at 75 per cent. That is belt-and-braces security for Australian businesses that are exporting, and that is jobs into our economy, particularly in regional areas. I say it again to those opposite: shame on you for talking down the Australian economy. Be confident about your country, because this is the nation of Australia. The reason we are in this building is to represent those people to the best of our ability.