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Tuesday, 26 May 2009
Page: 4266

Mr HOCKEY (2:44 PM) —My question is to the Treasurer. I refer the Treasurer to the Prime Minister’s last answer today when he said the government net debt will be paid off in 2022. In order to now pay the debt off, the government would have to run record surpluses of more than two per cent of GDP for eight years straight. Treasurer, when ever in the history of our country has a government done that?

Mr SWAN (Treasurer) —We know those opposite could not find savings in recent budgets. We on this side of the House are up to the task of making the savings in budgets. We made them in the last budget, and we have made them in this year’s budget. We are entirely up to the mark in terms of charting a path back to surplus. Of course, those on the other side of the House went on an unsustainable spending spree at the height of the mining boom and they spent like drunken sailors. We know what they did because the member for Higgins blew the whistle in John Howard’s biography, where he complained about the spending of the former Prime Minister and his own inability to stop it.

What we will see from this side of the House is fiscal discipline. We have put in place a spending cap of two per cent real when growth returns to trend. That is why our objectives are entirely reasonable and achievable. And it is a bit rich when those on that side of the House cannot front up and find any alternative savings in the budget.

Mr Dutton —Mr Speaker—

The SPEAKER —Both the Treasurer and the member for Dickson will resume their places. To assist the member for Dickson, I indicate to the Treasurer that he should relate his remarks to the question.

Mr Dutton —Well just say you don’t understand!

The SPEAKER —Order! Regrettably, the member for Dickson is now warned!

Mr SWAN —As the Prime Minister indicated before, net debt as a percentage of GDP is expected to be 3.74 per cent in 2019-20, charting the path back to surplus and paying down the borrowings in 2015-16. This government has been entirely responsible in supporting the economy in our hour of need. This government has had the courage to support jobs through economic stimulus, to put in place a medium-term fiscal strategy and an expenditure cap to bring the budget back to surplus and to pay down debt. If only those on the other side had the courage to front up to this parliament with an alternate budget policy or fiscal policy. They do not have that courage because they want to play the scare campaign. They are so opportunistic and so devoid of a commitment to the national interest, all we get are these silly political games.