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Wednesday, 13 March 2013
Page: 1919


Mr HOCKEY (North Sydney) (14:37): My question is to the Treasurer. I refer him to this bill, introduced by Labor, that raised the credit card limit of the Commonwealth government to $75 billion, this bill that increased the credit card limit to $200 billion, this bill that increased the credit card limit to $250 billion and this bill that increased the credit card limit of the Labor government to $300 billion which the Treasurer said was 'no big deal'. Treasurer: can you guarantee that it will not go above $300 billion?

Mr SWAN (LilleyDeputy Prime Minister and Treasurer) (14:38): As I said yesterday, and made very clear, we will update all of our estimates in the budget in the normal way. I also made the point really clearly that we outlined in MYEFO that our borrowings would be within the cap. I made that very clear. What this is about today is another attempt by those opposite to keep fear alive. Having seen their campaign against the carbon price completely bomb, they are now absolutely embarrassed by the fact that they are incapable of producing a respectable budget bottom line.

We had another example of this today. We have this article from Phil Coorey, online, this morning. He says this: 'Senior sources predicted a month ago that it would not oppose legislation—

Mr Hockey: Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. It does go to relevance. It was a simple question: can you guarantee it is not going above $300 billion?

Mr Buchholz interjecting

The SPEAKER: I am not interested in what the member for Wright has to say, so he will leave the chamber, under standing order 94(a).

Opposition members interjecting

The SPEAKER: No, it is not, because I could have been harsher a lot earlier. The member for Wright will leave the chamber. The Treasurer has the call and will be relevant to the question.

The member for Wright then left the chamber.

Mr SWAN: I was asked a question about debt, which goes to the core of fiscal policy and to the progress of fiscal policy over the forward estimates, and I do intend to address each element of the question. The fact is that we have a very strong fiscal policy on this side of the House. We are strongly controlling expenditure and we are doing that because we operate within a medium-term fiscal strategy committed to surpluses, on average, over the cycle. Those opposite claim that they are committed to that same goal, except what we have seen this morning is that this shadow Treasurer was rolled in the Liberal party room yesterday and he had his commitment to back vital legislation in this parliament—to put in place responsible fiscal policy—completely rolled in the party room yesterday. He was absolutely rolled. And rolled by who? The member for Menzies. Fair dinkum. If he got rolled by the member for Menzies he could be rolled by anybody.

Mr Dutton: Is this a guarantee?

The SPEAKER: The member for Dixon is warned. The Treasurer has the call and will be relevant to the question. Everybody else also needs to observe the standing orders, which do not allow the type of interjection that is going on.

Mr SWAN: On this side of the House we are committed to a fiscal policy that will support jobs and growth. We are committed to publishing our estimates and forecasts twice yearly. Those opposite have not published a bottom line for five years. The last time they published one there was an $11 billion black hole at the heart of it. So what is very clear, in stark contrast to our side of the House—

Mrs Bronwyn Bishop: Madam Speaker, on a point of order: page 566 of the Practice provides that where a minister cannot provide a substantive answer he should undertake to supply one in writing. Could you so direct him, please.

Mr SWAN: The shadow Treasurer admitted on breakfast television, sitting beside the minister for the environment, that he had a $70 billion hole in his budget bottom line. That has just been added to by $500 million, because he was rolled in the party room. On this side of the House we will put in place responsible fiscal policy to support jobs. On that side of the House, if they are to be taken seriously, they are going to have to slash and burn, particularly if they are not capable of facing up to the big decisions for the future.