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Wednesday, 23 November 2011
Page: 13609


Mr ABBOTT (WarringahLeader of the Opposition) (14:19): My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer her to the $4 billion difference between revenue and spending entailed in her carbon tax and the $6 billion difference between revenue and spending in her mining tax. How is it that her government could introduce two great big new taxes and still leave the budget with a $10 billion black hole? Why should Australians have any faith in her deceptive, dysfunctional and directionless government that governs for vested interests through secret deals and special arrangements negotiated outside cabinet and passed through this parliament in the dead of night?

The SPEAKER: I call the Prime Minister.

Opposition members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Order! Except for the fact that I had actually called the Prime Minister, given the reaction from those on my left perhaps I should have just ruled the question out of order for the amount of debate that it contained. But, having called the Prime Minister, that is an indication I have allowed the question. Those on my left should sit there silently. It would help if those on my right sat there quietly too.

Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (14:21): It is another demonstration that abuse and conspiracy theories are not a substitute for policy—policies the opposition will never have because they are addicted to saying no. They are addicted to negativity. They are addicted to trashing the national interest in what they perceive to be their political interest. To the Leader of the Opposition's question I say this: it is striking me as somewhat odd that on the one hand the opposition has come into this parliament and said the minerals resource rent tax will kill the mining industry, and now the political criticism and political case of the opposition appears to be that the minerals resource rent tax is not big enough. Then, of course—

Mr Simpkins interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Cowan is warned!

Ms GILLARD: from the Leader of the Opposition we have seen him tick carbon pricing, we have seen him campaign against carbon pricing—

Mrs Griggs interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Solomon is warned!

Ms GILLARD: and now, apparently, his political case is that carbon pricing is not enough—a remarkable turnaround! These people are so negative they are now at war with their own case against the minerals resource rent tax and carbon pricing.

On the question of budget discipline and returning the budget to surplus, even in these economic times, where we are seeing instability in the euro zone affecting the global economy, the government is determined to bring the budget to surplus and we will be updating all of our economic figures in the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook. I really am amazed that the Leader of the Opposition would come into this parliament and ask a question about fiscal discipline, given the recorded statement of his shadow minister for finance. The recorded statement of his shadow for finance is:

... we are saying that we need to identify up to $70 billion over the next four years if we are to get—

Ms Julie Bishop: Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order on relevance. This great big Labor line has nothing to do with the question that was asked. It was the $10 billion black hole—

The SPEAKER: The Deputy Leader of the Opposition will resume her seat. Because the question was dripping with debate does not mean that points of order can also have as much debate. As I indicated on calling the Prime Minister, this is one of those questions and answers where the gate has been opened widely on direct relevance. The Prime Minister has the call.

Ms GILLARD: Thank you very much. I would suggest to the opposition that they might use some of that energy, instead of howling abuse, to get their figures in some sort of order. The recorded statement of the shadow finance minister—

Opposition members interjecting

Ms GILLARD: No amount of screaming actually changes this: the shadow finance minister of the opposition said: 'We are saying that we need to identify up to $70 billion of cuts.' And then on another occasion he was asked to verify that figure and he said:

No, it's not a furphy. We came out with that figure …

The statement of the shadow minister for finance. Ever since then, the Leader of the Opposition has been seeking to mislead the Australian people and pretend that that was somehow a figure that emanated from the government or others. It is the statement of his shadow finance minister that they need to find $70 billion worth of savings. And that stands on top of the statement of the Leader of the National Party that the savings that they identified at the last election have largely evaporated. That means—

Ms Julie Bishop: Embarrassing for you!

Ms GILLARD: The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has just use the word 'embarrassing'. Yes, it is embarrassing—

Ms Julie Bishop: Embarrassing for you, sweetheart!

Ms GILLARD: that the Liberal Party has got itself into a situation where it is $70 billion behind the starting line. Before it can even get to the starting line where the government is, it needs to find $70 billion of savings. And we know what $70 billion of savings in Liberal-speak is all about—it is all about cuts to services working families need, because this Leader of the Opposition has got a track record when it comes to cutting away services that working families need. Can I say to the opposition: rather than come and scream abuse, maybe they should start producing some savings to fill that $70 billion crater.