This is all a bit embarrassing for the Labor Party today. We have a shadow Treasurer who does not understand or does not know what the tax-free threshold is. We have a former Treasurer who is still in the parliament who was responsible for racking up $240 billion in debt in six years when we did not have a recession.
Now we are left with the legacy of that. But now it is starting to make sense because the Labor Party could not read a simple chart that was included in today's major business newspaper along with the report that they are trumpeting here as some kind of scandal.
Both Senator Ketter and Senator Singh have said it is a shock-horror scandal that 30 per cent of locations—actually 'ABS statistical area 2' is the designation they have used in this report—are in recession at the moment. You would think when you heard a stat like that—it is a pretty unusual stat; it is not something commonly referred to—you might think, 'Is that high or low relative to normal times?' There is actually, helpfully, a chart which answers that for them in The Financial Review. They do not have to read the report; it is there in the Financial Review article online. It is right there. The data very helpfully goes back to financial year 2002. It shows that the peak of areas in recession was under the Labor government. It was just slightly higher. Under the Labor government in the financial year 2011, there were more locations in recession than there are today. It also shows, going back over that 12-year period, usually something more than one-fifth of locations are in recession at any one time. That is what you would expect in a dynamic economy. Things change, markets change, prices change, and some areas do it tougher than others. Our job is to have a proper, seamless and flexible economy and policies in place to help those adjustments occur. That is always the case.
It was actually much, much lower under the Howard government. The Howard government had between 20 per cent and 30 per cent of areas in recession. It increased after the global financial crisis. Under the Labor government, it increased to over 30 per cent. I am not necessarily trying to blame the Labor Party for that like these guys are stupidly doing to us. I am not saying it is all their fault, because obviously there were other things that impacted on our economy at those times. Clearly, since those times, we have not been able to grow as strong an economy as we would like. We have moderate growth and an increasing amount of growth, but we still have more work to do.
The other really embarrassing thing is that those opposite have tried to hang so much off this graph. As you would expect, because we have not finished financial year 2015, the data in this report finishes in the last financial year. It has data only up to the last financial year. That means that those opposite are trying to pass judgement on nine months of the Abbott-Truss newly elected coalition government from September 2013 through to mid-2014. That is the only period in that time when the Abbott government was in power.
There was no budget delivered by this government in that time; the then budget was the former government's budget. Their whole argument today hangs off nine months of the Abbott-Truss government, based on a comparative chart which shows that things were better under the last coalition government than when Labor were last in government. Now they are trying to say 'shock, horror, scandal' to the entire country.
It just shows that these guys are running out of ideas. They are running out of ideas. They are running out of arguments. They do not quite know what to do since the budget came down. They were scatter brained, all over the place, today in question time, with different questions on different topics, and they chose this topic because it was the only one in the newspaper that they thought they could give a run. It is embarrassing for them.
The notion that somehow one in five dollars comes from 10 locations is, again, apparently 'shock, horror'. That has increased over the last 12 years. Sometimes I do not think the Labor Party can read y axes, because it is not zero in this chart; it has increased from 16.5 to 17.9 over the last 12 years—a massive, massive change.
The other thing to take away from that is that of course it is concentrated, because the population in Australia is concentrated. Two-thirds of Australians live in capital cities, but only around a fifth of them—at least, in those 10 locations—are producing the wealth. So, they are actually underperforming. Our capital cities are not punching above their weight, because we all know that most of our export dollars and most of the wealth in this country is generated in regional areas, where only one-third of the Australian population lives. All our iron exports, all our coal, all our agricultural products and most of our tourism assets are actually in regional areas, and they are what produce the wealth for this country.