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Monday, 8 February 2010
Page: 605


Mr CRAIG THOMSON (2:28 PM) —My question is to the Treasurer. Will the Treasurer update the House on the closure of the bank guarantee?


Mr SWAN (Treasurer) —I thank the member for Dobell for his question, because yesterday I announced a very significant milestone in Australia’s recovery from the worst global recession in 75 years. The government was acting on the advice of the Council of Financial Regulators and we will withdraw the guarantee from 31 March this financial year. I made it clear yesterday that the government’s Financial Claims Scheme will continue to provide—


Mr Pyne —On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I simply seek clarification from you about the fact that the Treasurer is doing a ministerial statement after question time on this very subject and is giving another ministerial statement now during question time. This is supposed to be a time for questions—


The SPEAKER —The Manager of Opposition Business will resume his seat. I am not in a position to give any clarification about any prospective ministerial statement. That will be dealt with by the House at the time we get to ministerial statements, and that is in the hands of the House. The only point of order that the Manager of Opposition Business could raise with me was whether the question was in order. The question was in order and the Treasurer will respond to the question.


Mr SWAN —We see the embarrassment of those on the other side of the House, who opposed this in this House—a measure that was so fundamental. Day after day, month after month they opposed the guarantee, they rubbished it in this House, they came in here and asked question after question and they did not support it. This demonstrates why they have made such a fundamental misjudgment about the handling of the global recession. It goes to the very core of their lack of judgment. Everybody on this side of the House remembers very well, day after day, the opposition from those on that side of the House to a measure which did so much to support our financial system and our broader economy at a time of threat from the global financial crisis and what became the global recession.

This is a very serious issue, but those opposite are so embarrassed they have to get up and interrupt a relatively straightforward answer to this question. They are completely embarrassed by their bloody-minded opposition to the bank guarantee and to the term-funding guarantee, which just demonstrates their lack of economic judgment. Without the guarantee, our banks would have lent less and interest rates for borrowers would have been far higher. That is the consequence of the guarantee. We were able to stabilise our banking system and ensure the flow of credit right through our economy. We can say today that Australia has been the only major advanced economy in the world that has avoided a recession and it has been one of the few to grow during that period.

Once again the lack of judgment from those opposite is obvious, because they not only opposed the bank guarantee in this House; they also opposed the stimulus back in February in this House, and of course they have continued to oppose the stimulus and have been out there suggesting that the stimulus should be withdrawn, which of course would pull the rug right out from underneath the recovery. Governor Stevens has summed this up all very well. This is what he had to say about the introduction of the bank guarantee:

… helped to stabilise what could have been a catastrophic loss of confidence in the global financial system … public confidence in the security of the banking system maintained … and stabilised a potentially quite dangerous situation.

You would have thought that something of that magnitude might have secured the continuous support in this House of the Liberal and National parties, but it did not. They opposed it tooth and nail in this House. What we are now seeing is a continuation of that irresponsible behaviour and that lack of judgment, which demonstrates what a risk all of those opposite are to our economic recovery.

We have had the Leader of the Opposition make unfunded commitments to the tune of $10.7 billion over five years at the same time as opposing the stimulus. The fact of the matter is that the Leader of the Opposition does not understand economics and regards it as boring, and that is simply a proxy for the fact he has not got the faintest idea what is going on in the economy. We have got the shadow Treasurer, who appeared on television last night wearing a crown, waving a magic wand and wrapping himself in a tutu, like a giant Tinkerbell! And, of course, we have got Senator Joyce. This is the least qualified economic team from any political party in this House for well over 30 years. They are demonstrating yet again their complete lack of judgment.


Mr Pyne —Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. I would ask the Treasurer to table the page of Hansard showing that the coalition voted against the wholesale bank guarantee.


The SPEAKER —There is no point of order. The member for Sturt will resume his seat.


Mr Pyne —We didn’t vote against it!


The SPEAKER —The member for Sturt, please!


Ms Julie Bishop interjecting


The SPEAKER —If the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has got something that she wishes to contribute to the proceedings then she can seek the call; otherwise I just make the gentle observation about her interjection that there are other forms of the House that she can use if she believes that to be the case.

The Manager of Opposition Business knows that he can ask for a document that has been quoted from to be tabled. He just cannot jump up willy-nilly asking for things to be tabled.