TIERNEY (Western Victoria) — My question is to the Treasurer, John Lenders.
Can the minister update the house on any recent releases by the Australian
Bureau of Statistics and what they tell us about the current state of Victoria’s
LENDERS (Treasurer) — It is amazing: a glass half full, or a glass half
empty. This glass is 90 per cent full, and Ms Tierney is certainly in the positive
camp, which knows absolutely that if we in this state find solutions to problems
and a plan going forward, we are going to build confidence. Confidence leads to
investment, and investment leads to jobs. Ms Tierney knows this better than all the members of the
opposition put together, because she is serious about jobs.
Representing within her great region that manufacturing city of
Geelong, she certainly knows better than most the importance of confidence in
building up jobs.
Today the Australian Bureau of Statistics released the national
accounts, which Mr Rich-Phillips scampered through to find something negative.
Of course Mr Rich-Phillips missed the fact that the gross domestic product (GDP)
figures in this report show growth of 0.6 per cent across Australia. We saw
growth across Australia. Perhaps Mr Rich-Phillips should have a look at that,
ring Mr Hockey and say to him, ‘Hey, the national figures aren’t bad. Before you
start doing another Shrek act and getting a bit upset about things, you should
actually start looking at the figures’. The national figures are good.
He should probably also look at the fact — and Ms Tierney will
certainly know this — that in the budget the government forecast gross state
product (GSP) to grow at 0.5 per cent. We do not have GSP figures in here at
this stage, but what we do know from the figures in here is where state final
demand is. Of course state final demand has to have the domestic trade figures
and the international trade figures added to it and a few other adjustments made
before you get to GSP, but we know on the basis of these figures that our GSP
will actually be stronger in December than the 0.5 per cent predicted in the
budget. What that means of course is that the policies we have applied in this
state have eased the pressure from the global financial crisis more than we
A lot of this comes down to confidence. This state, the
Premier, myself and every other member of this government have talked up and
praised the attributes of Victoria and looked at opportunities in Victoria so
that we can grow and create jobs.
That is one thing that distinguishes this state from most of
the rest of the Western world, where people have wrung their hands and said,
‘There is a global financial crisis, aren’t we victims!’. This government has
gone forward and said, ‘What can we do to position the state of Victoria to grow
What we are now seeing is that the state
final demand figures that have come out today in the national accounts are
showing that that is exactly what is happening. What we are seeing here is that
confidence in the financial system is delivering results. The national
government intervened with a bank guarantee, and the state government maintained
a AAA-based budget. Incidentally — Mr Wells and Mr Rich-Phillips have not told
the Parliament about these statistics, but Ms Tierney will be interested — what
did Standard and Poor’s do yesterday? It reaffirmed Victoria’s AAA credit
rating. Do we hear anything from members of the opposition on this? No, we do
not. They are mute; they are silent on it because they do not like good economic
We have seen the figures, and let us not forget chronology and
the narrative of this, because if we forget it we will be in the position that
other states are in. Firstly, we need confidence. Confidence requires government
acting, government having a plan and — dare I say it!
— the opposition putting a shoulder to the wheel and actually
supporting the workforce and the state by saying manufacturing in South Eastern
Metropolitan Region can do good things, by saying the service sector across
Victoria can do good things, by saying our rural sector can do good things and
by saying we can deliver good things in this state. It makes a difference to a
consumer who is going to spend and it makes a difference to a business that is
going to invest to have some confidence in their state. If the alternative
government trashes the state, it affects jobs in Victoria today, tomorrow and
next year. Let us not forget that. Secondly, as the figures showed yesterday,
investment follows confidence. We saw that yesterday and we see it in the state
final demand figures, and what flows through from that is jobs.
There is more to be done; the global financial crisis is not
over. We have a big project going forward to make this state more competitive,
whether it be through reducing the red-tape burden or making our tax system
We have a big job to do in boosting the skills work we have
already done and we have more to do in infrastructure, but we have the strongest
plans in place. It is all of these things, together with confidence, that will
grow jobs in this state. We are seeing that turnaround beginning to happen, but
it is fragile. These are green shoots; they can wilt under stinging criticism of
the state. We need to move forward, and I would call on members of the
opposition, if they are serious about growing and protecting jobs in the state
of Victoria, to say, just for once, something positive about Victoria.
The only member of the opposition I see praising Victoria is
Robert Clark, who still has his little Victoria badge on. Perhaps I should get
Bill Forwood’s leftover stash and deliver it to other members of the opposition
so they can actually say something good about Victoria for a change.