Mr FITZGIBBON (Hunter) (13:36):  The now Prime Minister went to the last election mischievously and deceitfully claiming that the economic challenges we faced had nothing to do with the global situation but everything to do with the then government. Now, of course, it has everything to do with the global environment and nothing to do with them!

We have recently seen a budget which has no economic narrative at all and predicts, or admits, that unemployment not only is on the rise but will continue to rise. So, where are the jobs of the future? Where is the government's narrative? Where is their economic plan and strategy to create jobs in this country? I can cite one area where opportunities are rampant, and that is of course in rural and regional Australia, where unemployment is typically higher than it is in our capital cities and the suburbs around them.

Our agriculture sector faces huge opportunities with the growing demand for food, particularly among the middle classes of Asia, yet investors and business alike are looking for some guidance from this government. We have now had 20 months of government without any agriculture policy in this country. Minister Joyce keeps telling us that the white paper is on its way; apparently, state ministers were told last week that 'it is full of ideas but we have no money to back it'. Woe is me! Unemployment will continue to rise until this government acts.

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