The International Monetary Fund says that Australia was one of the few advanced economies to escape the global recession last year.

The report also praises the government’s handling of the global financial crisis and its plans to return the budget to surplus.

Jin Kok reports.

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Treasurer Wayne Swan says the report endorses the government’s handling of the global recession.

Wayne Swan, Federal Treasurer: “It gives a very big tick to the Australian economy and a big tick to the government’s strong economic management.”

The Opposition leader had other ideas.

Tony Abbott, Opposition Leader: “The IMF is right to say that the government should reduce its expenditure.”

Meanwhile, while visiting hospitals in Canberra, Julia Gillard announced the opening of applications for regional health projects.

In Labor’s deal with the independents, regional health services stand to benefit from the one point eight million dollars in the health and hospital fund.

Julia Gillard, Prime Minister: “Now it has to be health infrastructure that makes a difference.”

The Prime Minister has also promised to tackle poker machine addictions as part of Government plans to introduce mandatory pre-commitment limits by 2014.

These steps could include having pokie players fingerprinted and carrying a thumbdrive to monitor their spending, a system which has been trialled in South Australia.

Andrew Wilkie, MP: “They were a voluntary pre-commitment system where people opted in and I actually thought the results were a little disappointing and in fact they demonstrated the need for a full system.”

Jin Kok, QUT News.