Thursday, 3 November 2011
Questions without Notice
I thank the member for Fremantle for her question. We on this side of the House will always stand up for hardworking Australians. That went to the core of the actions that we took during the global financial crisis and the global recession. We understand the dignity of work. We understand the importance of having a job and job security. We understand the importance of families having access to affordable health, education and housing. That goes to the very core of the beliefs of all of those on this side of the House in the Labor Party, because we understand that when work is taken away, when unemployment becomes high, it not only destroys the individual but also destroys community.
That is why at the height of the global financial crisis we moved to put in place very substantial stimulus to support the employment of families and to keep the doors of small business open, because we understood the destruction that would be experienced here if we did not do that. We have seen the destruction that has taken place in economies around the world where it was not done. I mentioned before that unemployment globally is around 200 million, but here in Australia unemployment is just above five per cent. It is double that right throughout Europe and almost double that in the United States. What drives us on this side of the House is jobs and also the capacity to work with fair working conditions. That is why we do need the Fair Work Act. We need to support those people at work with fair working conditions, and we need to back up their families with access to affordable health and education. And all of that is built on having a strict fiscal policy, because you cannot achieve those objectives of supporting employment unless you have a good, strict budget policy.
That is what we on this side of the House have done; we have brought the budget back to surplus well before just about any other developed economy. But we also understand that you need to build people up. That is why we are investing in skills and education. Those on the other side of the House want to tear people down. They do not have the same commitment to investing in skills and education, and we know that they certainly do not have a commitment to a fair industrial relations system. They will always side with the vested interests against the interests of the broad mass of the community.
They opposed our stimulus. Had they been in power, unemployment would be far higher now, and the social destruction from that would have been still blighting too many of our communities. As we go through this period of global volatility, we understand again that we have to engage not just domestically but internationally. We saw in the House today the lack of knowledge and the lack of comprehension of what needs to be done in the global economy. They demonstrated yet again how dangerous they would be if they were in power in these volatile conditions. They demonstrated yet again that they do not understand the international economy and that they do not understand the basis of the Australian economy.
Those are the fundamental differences between us on this side of the House and those on that side of the House. They always stand up for vested interests. We have seen it in the carbon price debate, we have seen it in the resource rent debate and we have seen in the industrial relations debate. We on this side of the House stand for ordinary hardworking Australians who expect nothing other than a fair go, a job, and fair health, education and housing systems. That is why we are all proud to be Labor.