The budget is of course a very visible and important part of Australia’s economic management, but it is not the only part.
While our predecessors sought to place government at the centre of economic activity with endless debt-fuelled spending, choking regulation and damaging taxes on our strengths, we have a fundamentally different vision for our country.
We are seeking to displace big government and replace it with robust and sustainable growth led by the private sector.
For Australia to further prosper we must grow the pie, not seek to redistribute increasingly shrinking pieces.
Labor had Australia on a totally unsustainable footing. It lost control of the budget and lacked the strength of leadership to fix the yawning structural deficit it created. There is no doubt that the Coalition was in no small part elected to clean up this mess, to repair the budget and to get government back living within its means.
The budget brought down by Joe Hockey is totally consistent with that task.
To be sure, it is a tough budget and there are unpopular measures, but like the Costello budget of 1996, it represents a major turning point. Predictably, Bill Shorten and co are all complaints, but have not offered a single idea to help fix the train wreck they themselves left behind. Their shrill criticisms are hollow.
By dramatically reducing Labor’s record debt and deficit, while at the same time reducing the overall tax burden by some $5.7 billion, we have shunted the budget back on to a far more sustainable pathway. Over the longer term, this will produce dividends that will benefit all of us.
This is one part of our job; the other is recalibrating key policy settings to give Australian businesses, big and small, the best possible environment to succeed. When business prospers so does the nation; economic growth is stronger, extra jobs are created and tax receipts to support government service delivery and payments are more buoyant.
Another task we have is reclaiming our international reputation as being among the safest, most reliable and profitable place to invest, after Labor shamefully managed to increase our sovereign risk profile through its chaotic style of governing. Already we have made some good progress and demonstrating that we are ‘‘open for business’’ is a lot more than just a slogan.
This is why we must get rid of the carbon tax and the mining tax. It is why we have taken the axe to more than 10,000 regulations. It is why we have moved to streamline environmental approval processes. And it is why we are investing tens of billions of dollars in road, rail and port projects.
In our first three months alone, Environment Minister Greg Hunt, to his great credit, approved more than 230 projects worth more than $500bn, many of which had been delayed for years under a Labor beholden to the Greens.
These projects will employ thousands of Australians and help grow our economy.
As a government we have placed great stock in trade and investment as powerful economic levers.
It is why we quickly concluded landmark trade agreements with Korea and Japan and have made good progress with China, which all floundered for many years under Labor.
These will open up new markets for our exporters and increase Australian living standards though cheaper imports like cars and household goods.
Since the First Fleet, Australia has relied on foreign investment to help grow our economy and this remains true today.
Since September I have chaired 28 significant investment roundtables in 10 countries promoting Australia.
One of these in Singapore involved a handful of senior figures responsible for $1.3 trillion under investment.
During our hugely successful Australia Week in China, commercial deals worth close to $1bn were signed, while some other very exciting prospective investments have emerged in sectors such as tourism as a direct result of AWIC investor roundtables.
Foreign investment, including joint ventures, will play a critical role in our plans to support the sustainable development of Northern Australia.
It will help fund the new infrastructure needed, the dams and irrigation, for such things as major agricultural projects to help meet burgeoning middle class demand in the Asia-Pacific for high-quality produce. This is the century of food and water security.
So yes, getting the budget back in order is integral to our economic strategy, but there are many other moving parts, all designed to help ensure a more prosperous Australia in the years and decades ahead.
- Trade Minister's Office: (02) 6277 7420
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