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Monday, 21 June 2004
Page: 30903

Mr CREAN (3:02 PM) —My question is to the Treasurer—

Honourable members interjecting

The SPEAKER —The member for Hotham is entitled to be heard in silence.

Mr CREAN —Does the Treasurer recall his answer on Thursday when he said, `In relation to the AusLink funding, it is all factored into the budget—it was announced on budget night'? Is the Treasurer aware of the Deputy Prime Minister's promise of an extra $500 million funding announced on 7 June, when he said, `There's $450 million announced in the budget, but we're revealing today a further $500 million or so'? And further when he said, `$3.1 billion was announced in the budget. We have increased it by $500 million since then and of course it is coming from consolidated revenue'? Treasurer, how is this extra $500 million paid for, or was the Deputy Prime Minister not telling the truth?

Mr COSTELLO (Treasurer) —I thank the honourable member for his question. As per usual, the Deputy Prime Minister was telling the truth. We on this side can vouch for the veracity of the Deputy Prime Minister. The AusLink announcement was made in the budget and, from memory, I think we set out $11 billion over the forward estimates in existing and new funding for both road and rail.

The SPEAKER —The member for Hotham has asked his question.

Mr COSTELLO —All of those projects, as I said before, have been factored in. They have been announced. The forward estimates have been put out and they are accounted for in the budget. Those projects will be fully funded—each and every one of them.

The SPEAKER —Order! The member for Hotham has asked his question.

Mr COSTELLO —We have set out all of those projects, and they will be fully funded—

Mr Crean —Where is the $500 million?

The SPEAKER —The member for Hotham is warned! I had already indicated to him what his obligations were. The Treasurer has the call.

Mr COSTELLO —As I said, under the AusLink program we have set out the expenditures in relation to road and rail. We have announced the forward estimates in relation to those projects, including the year-by-year, and they will all be fully funded. This government has now produced seven surplus budgets. We have reduced Labor debt by $70 billion and the debt to GDP ratio is three per cent. This government has the runs on the board in relation to financial management. We can compare that with the Australian Labor Party in which the member for Hotham proudly served. The last five budgets were deficit budgets. They ran to the 1996 election saying there would be a surplus when the budget was then $10 billion in deficit, and they ran up an additional $70 billion of net debt over those last five years.

There is one way the Labor Party, if it really is serious that it has changed its ways, can open itself up to scrutiny: it can release the list which the Leader of the Opposition promised was in front of him on 14 May and would be available to the public. It can announce its $11 billion tax policy—

The SPEAKER —The member for Braddon!

Mr COSTELLO —and it can go through the $10 billion of expenditures. I am going to put this on the record, because the last two times—

The SPEAKER —Order! I warn the member for Braddon!

Mr COSTELLO —The last two times when the member for Hotham was engaged in putting forward policies which could have been costed under the Charter of Budget Honesty, he failed to get his policies out in time for an independent costing during the election campaign. I can remember the last campaign. We were on the Thursday night before the election, and they still had not produced the policies for costing under the Charter of Budget Honesty. The member for Hotham has a track record in relation to these matters. Labor promised they would have their tax policy out during budget week. They promised Alan Jones there was a public list. They promised that they would put their policies out for costing. They have failed to do so. They are some $21 billion short at the moment, and I call on the Australian Labor Party to let the Australian public in on the secret.