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Wednesday, 18 March 2009
Page: 3094

Mr HOCKEY (2:34 PM) —My question is to the Treasurer. I refer the Treasurer to the fact that the government is now borrowing more than $2 billion a week to fund its cash splash. Will the Treasurer advise the House how many recipients of the Rudd government’s $900 cash splash are backpackers, people living overseas, people in jail or people who are dead, and how many family pets are receiving the money? Treasurer, how can dead people and people in jail spend, spend, spend?

Mr SWAN (Treasurer) —That question—

Mr Laming interjecting

The SPEAKER —Of course, this is not permitted under the standing orders. If the member for North Sydney had really wanted the member for Bowman to answer the question he might have asked him, but he will remain silent.

Mr SWAN —That question from the shadow Treasurer just demonstrates why those opposite cannot be taken seriously in the national debate. We are dealing with a global financial crisis which has turned into a global recession. It is posing the biggest economic challenge to this country in generations. They have got the hide to get up and pretend that the essential economic stimulus we have put in place to boost demand at precisely the time our economy is threatened is not necessary. They are pretending that there is no need for a concerted government response in the face of the biggest global recession since the Depression—no need at all!—no need for any economic stimulus, no need for the payments to pensioners, no need for the payments to families with children, no need for the payments to carers and no need for tax bonuses.

That is what this question is all about. It is somehow to justify their pathetic political strategy in this House, when the truth is that the country desperately needs these payments to boost demand, to fill the gap before the spending is put in place, which is part of our investment package to boost demand through boosting expenditure on schools, housing and energy efficiency. They do not support those either. So what does the government do when there is such a large external shock? How does the government respond to prevent unemployment going through the roof?

I will tell you what a government does: it takes decisive action, and that is what this government has done. We have taken decisive action which has involved payments to pensioners. It has involved payments to families. It involves tax bonuses to many people who have not received a tax cut from those opposite. That is certainly what it involves. I guess what the member for North Sydney is saying is that they now oppose the $900 bonus that goes to single low-income earners—people they could never give a tax cut to. They now oppose the tax bonus which is going to those families without children—people who rarely got a tax cut from those opposite. That is what these questions are all about—to justify somehow their political strategy, which wants the country to simply sit and wait and have the global recession run over it, causing immense human carnage. I say to them: you should be deeply embarrassed by your approach in the House today. It is certainly not supported by any of the leading business organisations in this country; they absolutely understand the need for economic stimulus.

Mr Anthony Smith —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order on relevance. The Treasurer was asked a very specific question: how many recipients of the $900 cash splash are backpackers, people living overseas, people in jail, the dead or family pets? It was very specific.

The SPEAKER —The member for Casey will resume his seat. By reading out the last part of the question he does not refer to the matters contained in the first part. The Treasurer has the call.

Mr SWAN —Those opposite are so politically twisted that they would rather see the country fail than the government succeed. That is the truth that underlines the tactics in this House today and yesterday.

I went to the G20 conference and, as a consequence of that, I was not here last Thursday or on Monday. I tell you what: when I came back to the House yesterday I was shocked by the approach of those opposite. They have become politically embittered and this is preventing the debate the country needs at this stage, when we face such an enormous challenge.

Mr Pyne —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The question was very specific. If he cannot give a specific number, he should sit down.

The SPEAKER —No, the member for Sturt will sit down.

Mr SWAN —They are united by their hatred of the Labor Party. They should be acting with us because of love of the country.