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Thursday, 15 May 2008
Page: 2951

Mr CRAIG THOMSON (2:15 PM) —Mr Speaker, my question is to the Treasurer. Will the Treasurer outline for the House the response from economists to the Rudd government’s first budget?

Mr SWAN (Treasurer) —I certainly welcome the question, because the Rudd government’s first budget is a responsible budget—a responsible budget that builds a strong surplus. And there has been some favourable commentary from sensible analysts. So for the benefit of the House I thought I might run through some of that commentary. From Michael Blythe at the Commonwealth Bank:

The Budget ticks all the boxes in terms of the government’s medium-term fiscal strategy.

He went on:

The budget produces a larger surplus than the 1% of GDP projections with which the Coalition was comfortable. The emphasis has shifted from spending to savings. So, the ALP can now claim the mantle of fiscal conservatism.

And Mr Williamson from TD Securities said:

It looks to be a mildly restrictive budget, living up to the credo that they had of being an inflation-fighting budget ...

Rory Robinson from Macquarie Bank said:

It is a major restraint relative to the Whitlamesque five per cent growth estimated for this year—the Howard government’s final budget year.

He pinged them for very big spending! Of course, we have the shadow Treasurer’s former employer, Goldman Sachs; this is what they had to say:

After two years of notable conflict we finally have fiscal policy that is pushing in the same direction as monetary policy.

So I think it is pretty clear that the market thinks Tuesday night’s budget was a responsible budget. But what does the opposition have to say about this? The member for Wentworth fancies himself as an economic guru, so what does he have to say? This is what he had to say on budget night—

Mr Tuckey —I rise on a point of order as to relevance. The Treasurer was not asked to comment on the policy of the opposition.

The SPEAKER —The honourable member will resume his seat.

Mr SWAN —On budget night the shadow Treasurer was asked this question by David Speers:

If you had been standing at the dispatch box tonight, would you have gone further with deeper spending cuts?

Do you know what the shadow Treasurer said? He said:

Look, I cannot comment on that.

The once great hope of the Liberal Party—but he could not comment on that, on budget night. The great white hope of the Liberal Party had nothing to say—no alternative framework, no suggestions for savings, no suggestions for fiscal policy whatsoever.

He was also asked on 14 May this question by Mr Neil Mitchell:

Is this your last budget as shadow Treasurer?

Mr Turnbull:

Well, we’ll see.

Yes, we will see! We will see whether the Liberal Party has an alternative economic framework tonight, because what is apparent from what they have had to say is that they are the party of high spending, high taxation and high inflation.

Mr Turnbull —I rise on a point of order. I ask the Treasurer to table the full Goldman Sachs JBWere report so that we can read what Goldman Sachs really says, which is very—

The SPEAKER —The honourable member will resume his seat. The only thing that the chair can do is ask whether the Treasurer was quoting from a document. Was the document confidential?

Mr Albanese —I rise on a point of order. Is it in order for the shadow Treasurer to knock over the Leader of the Opposition on the floor of the House?

The SPEAKER —Order! I note that that will be in the stats for points of order, and I remind the Leader of the House that it was stretching the use of points of order, as he was reminding the House. He should be very careful in future. The member for Wentworth.

Mr Turnbull —Mr Speaker, I seek leave to table the very unconfidential public report of JB Were on the budget.

Leave not granted.

Opposition members interjecting—

The SPEAKER —Now members on my left are denying themselves questioning time. The Leader of the Opposition.