Making sure that our economy is strong and growing will ensure that all working Australians continue to have the best possible opportunity to get ahead.
The Coalition Government is ensuring Australia continues its record run of 27 consecutive years of economic growth with tax cuts for the 3.2 million small and medium businesses – employing over 6.7 million people – to drive investment and create new jobs.
A strong economy is driving jobs growth. We have achieved our 2013 goal to help create more than one million jobs within five years. This means more people have been able to move off welfare and into work. The combination of these additional new jobs and the Government’s action to ensure our welfare system is well-targeted has resulted in welfare dependency for working age Australians falling to its lowest level in 25 years. The benefits of our strong jobs record is far reaching with more women, young people and older Australians finding work than ever before. 1989 was the last time we saw youth employment figures as high as they are today with over a 100,000 young Australians getting a job in the last financial year. One third of the jobs created since we came to office have been for older Australian and together with initiatives such as the pension work bonus we are supporting the choices of older Australians and preparing for an ageing population.
The economy does not run on autopilot. Since coming into office in 2013, we have focussed on ensuring the right economic policies and market conditions to boost jobs and business conditions. The level of new jobs created in the last 12 months represents around three times the jobs growth in the last year of the previous Labor government. When Labor left office in 2013, business conditions were plummeting. Today under the Coalition, they are around record high levels supported by our record $75 billion infrastructure investment and our continued efforts to back small businesses. These indicators demonstrate that the policies of the Coalition Government are assisting businesses to prosper and grow and are keeping our economy strong.
Since coming to office, the Coalition has legislated $50 billion in savings and has kept the real growth in spending below 2 per cent, which is the lowest of any government in 50 years. The budget balance for 2017-18 improved by $19.3 billion compared to estimates at the 2017-18 Budget. At $10.1 billion, the deficit is now the smallest in a decade. We remain on track for a balanced budget in 2019-20 and a surplus in 2020-21. With the budget returning to balance, we will start paying down debt. Net debt has peaked at 18.6 per cent of GDP in 2017-18 and is expected to fall by around $30 billion over the next four years.