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MATTERS OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE: National Commission of Audit

13 May 2014


Mr ALEXANDER (Bennelong) (16:09): The members opposite have accused this government of overdramatising our nation’s situation. These allegations seem a little rich coming from the party so famous for drama. Labor’s long-running soap opera confused and captivated voters over six long seasons, starring Kevin and Julia, then Julia and Kevin, and finally, back by popular demand, a solo act by Kevin.

For Labor to suggest that a deficit nearing $667 billion is overdramatised shows that clearly they have moved from drama to comedy, but this is no laughing matter. So let us cut the drama. Let us set aside the opposition’s rhetoric for a moment and address the facts. Let us revisit Labor’s legacy, to examine where we are today. Unfortunately for Labor, the facts are pretty damning. In their first year in government, Labor delivered a budget deficit of $27 billion. In the very next year, the deficit had blown out to $54.5 billion. In five budgets between 2008 and 2013, Labor delivered $191 billion of budget deficits and $123 billion of accumulated deficits over the forward estimates.

The facts are clear: when they came into office, Labor inherited a surplus of $20 billion, with no net debt and $45 billion in the bank. By the end of their six-year spiral of spending, they left Australians with a dizzying legacy of projected debt, the product of structural spending measures which promised to take us on a road into the red to $667 billion by 2023.

So, before the opposition accuse us of overdramatising the very real deficit they have left behind, I would ask them to check the facts. If they really see the numbers as not a big problem, they deserve to stay in opposition for a very long time, because it is going to take a very long time to fix their mess. When they were in office, Labor’s best financial minds behaved like rich kids playing with daddy’s credit card. They threw money at pink batts and school halls and committed to an NBN spend that, ironically, has blown out into the clouds. Their total disregard for fiscal responsibility has led us to where we are today.

Today’s deficit is not of our doing, but it will be our undoing if we fail to respond to it. That is why tonight this government will deliver a budget to put our nation back on track and pay down the debt. This budget represents the first steps towards delivering our promise to the Australian people. Labor may accuse us of confecting a budget emergency but, while they streak through the halls of parliament offering a lot of rhetoric but no plans to address the debt, we on this side of the House have started the difficult task of making the hard decisions they did not have the fortitude to make. We have looked closely at the facts, rolled up our sleeves and come up with a plan to restore the budget to surplus.

Labor have levelled another attack against this government in the lead-up to tonight’s budget. They say we have somehow broken our election promise to be a government of lower taxes by promising a levy on high-income earners. So, again, I propose that we take a look at the facts. Tony Abbott has been faithful to his low-tax mandate. Tonight’s budget will outline our plans to relieve taxpayers of billions of dollars in tax burden by reducing taxes in many areas across the budget. This government is asking everybody to do their share of the lifting to fix Labor’s mess. The levy is an appeal to those who are fortunate enough to earn a high income to get Australia back on track. This levy is about making sure responsibility for the heavy lifting is shared fairly, and it is time that those opposite stopped making mischief on this proposed policy to pay back the debt.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! The discussion is now concluded.

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