Helped by its massive natural resources, Australia has weathered the global financial crisis better than other Group of 20 economies. In 2012, its economy grew 3.1 per cent, compared with 1.6 per cent in the United States and 1.1 per cent in Canada.
Australia’s Abbott sorry to childless PM over new row
Australian opposition leader Tony Abbott apologised on Tuesday after saying the government was inexperienced when it comes to having babies, seen as a dig at childless Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
Abbott, recently accused by Gillard of being sexist and a misogynist, made the comment when referring to cuts in a baby bonus scheme announced as part of the government’s mid-year budget review.
Abbott said scaling back the payment to cut costs and return the budget to surplus revealed a lack of “experience” within the government of raising children.
In response Gillard, who was once described by a member of Abbott’s Liberal party as “deliberately barren”, said: “I think Mr Abbott can explain what he meant by that line.”
Trade Minister Craig Emerson also questioned what Abbott meant.
“If he’s talking about the treasurer [Wayne Swan], well he’s got several children; I’ve got several children,” Emerson said.
“So what’s he really on about to suggest that this government isn’t experienced at having children and therefore with the costs of children?”
Abbott accused the government of “hyperventilating” over the issue and said he meant no offence, however he was happy to apologise.
“If she [Gillard] wants to take offence of course I’m sorry about that. And if she would like me to say sorry, I’m sorry,” Abbott told Fairfax radio.
“Mate, I think a lot of people are very ready to read far too much into entirely innocent comments,” he added. “This was as innocent as a comment can be.”
Gillard, the nation’s first woman leader, won praise around the world for her comments on Abbott being sexist during a parliamentary speech a fortnight ago, which saw her popularity surge in an opinion poll released Monday.
Abbott said Tuesday that people wanted to “move on” from the debate.
“If I’ve got a criticism of the government I’m criticising it because of its record, not because of the gender of any of its members,” he said.