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Monday, 9 December 2013
Page: 1980


Ms RISHWORTH (Kingston) (17:29): There are many examples of this government saying one thing before the election and doing something completely different after the election. There are plenty of examples we could point to, but nothing is more stark than this, where before the election the government said they were going to reduce debt. They went around telling everyone they were going to be responsible and reduce debt. Then, not more than four sittings weeks in, they are asking this parliament to pass an unlimited cap on debt—no debt ceiling whatsoever.

The now Treasurer said during the election campaign that he would like to ensure there was less debt and that more debt does not reduce debt. It seems kind of odd for him to change his tune within four sitting weeks. I imagine that the Australian people are scratching their heads. Before the election he said, 'Reduce the debt,' but after the election he says, 'Give us a licence to have as much debt as we possibly can.'

I think the Australian people would be scratching their heads not only over that backflip but also about the Liberal Party now courting the Greens for their economic policy. Before the election, there was a lot of criticism on any occasion that the Greens voted with the Labor Party, despite the Liberal Party voting with the Greens on numerous occasions—for example, to trash the Malaysia solution, which was a responsible solution in relation to asylum seekers. In public, with their megaphones, they were saying, 'Don't trust the Greens. The Greens have irresponsible economic policies.' Indeed, Tony Abbott described the Greens as the fringe dwellers of economic policy. But today we see once again the Liberal Party doing a complete U-turn and courting the Greens to support their irresponsible economic policy.

Let us be clear about why we are in a position where the Liberal Party have had to court the Greens. It is because the Greens and the Liberal Party actually do not want to talk about where the debt is coming from. All Labor asked was, 'Just be honest—why do you need this increase?' Since the election, we have had the Liberals spending a lot of money in a lot of areas. They are secretly spending it—in terms of the Reserve Bank—and not wanting to be transparent with the Australian people about where the debt is coming from and why they now need unlimited debt. Into the future, they also want to continue hiding and not come back to this parliament to report on why they need more debt. So it is not surprising now that we see the fringe dwellers—I am talking about what Tony Abbott called the Greens—getting on with the Liberals and voting for this.

But we still see the Liberal Party having an incoherent economic message. We see them wanting to abolish the debt ceiling while at the same time refusing to recognise why the spending was required during the global financial crisis. They fail to recognise that the then Treasurer, the member for Lilley, received the 'world's best Treasurer' award for the way he dealt with the global financial crisis, ensuring that Australians kept on working.

While it was the priority of the previous, Labor government to put jobs at No. 1, over the last few days we have seen constantly that the Liberal Party will refuse to put jobs at No. 1. They are happy to see jobs in my electorate and in my state of South Australia, and indeed in the southern states and right across Australia, go by the wayside. This government has no narrative. Increase debt, but do not focus on jobs. Jobs are not a critical component for this government. They refuse to protect jobs in this economy.

I call on the government to reconsider this. It is irresponsible and the hypocrisy is quite rank in terms of their dirty deal with the Greens. (Time expired)