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Monday, 9 December 2013
Page: 1983


Mr McCORMACK (RiverinaParliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance) (17:44): We have heard some common sense uttered in this chamber in this debate. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer, the member for Moncrieff, certainly had some good comments to make about why we need to increase the debt ceiling. We have just heard from the member for Hinkler and the member for Mallee. Both made some very good, practical and reasonable comments on why we need to increase the debt ceiling.

We have also heard hypocrisy writ large. We heard that from the member for Kingston, who went on about jobs. Nobody in this chamber is not focused on creating more jobs. But in the last parliament all we ever heard about was the Labor Party protecting their own jobs. Their whole focus was on who would be Prime Minister, who was going to stab whom in the back—it became the focus of the whole 43rd Parliament.

We just heard the member for Kingsford Smith talking about the infrastructure projects that Labor allegedly got on with in the 43rd Parliament. I will admit there were some good infrastructure projects but—certainly in my electorate—there was far too much focus on buying back productive water. He also talked about the Pacific Highway. It is my understanding—and I think I am pretty right here—that under previous coalition governments the split between Commonwealth and state governments was 80:20, but under Labor it became fifty-fifty. So there was more emphasis on the state governments providing that fifty-fifty amount of money, whereas we only required a small input from the state government. We should not politicise the upgrade of the Pacific Highway. It is something that we as governments just need to get on with. Whether the split is 80:20 or fifty-fifty, we just need to improve that road so that people can get on with the business of driving from Queensland to New South Wales without the threat of driving on a goat track—and that is what it is.

We are getting on with the job of having a commission of audit, and we are getting on with the job of a strategic review into the National Broadband Network, because they are necessary. It has been 20 long years since we have had a commission of audit, and it is necessary. The commission is going to assess the current split of roles and responsibilities between state and federal governments, and that is necessary to avoid areas of duplication. It is also necessary to look into every way we can save money, because of the debt and deficit left to us as a legacy from Labor. Under its terms of reference:

The Commission is asked to review and report on the extent, condition and adequacy of Commonwealth sector infrastructure and, if found to be deficient, factors that may have contributed to the current situation and possible remedies.

That is necessary. And it is going to report back to the Prime Minister and the Treasurer, something that was not done under Labor—there was no consultation; they just went out, squeezed the life out of the money for the Pacific Highway, bought far too much productive water out of the Murray-Darling Basin and held no cost-benefit analysis into the NBN. Who in business goes into a deal without making sure their money is going to be well spent? No-one does that but Labor, because of lot of them have not been in business, a lot of them have never had to worry about where their next income was going to come from because they have had this history of being in trade unions and this history of coming up through the staff ranks. Not that there's anything wrong with that: unions have a place and there have been any number of political staffers who have become good, contributing members of parliament.

But I put it to you, Deputy Speaker, that sometimes it is good to also listen to those with a world of experience—either in having had a job, having been an employer, or having had to sniff the oily rag and not know where the next dollar was going to come from, or having been in business, or actually having had the responsibility of making sure families could have a future next week and the week after. Not too many of the Labor members who I looked across at when they were in government had that experience, and it is so necessary.

It is so necessary also for us to have this debt ceiling of $500 billion, because of the legacy of debt and deficit that we inherited from Labor. With that, I move:

That the question be now put.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Hon. BC Scott ): The question is that the motion be put.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (18:01): The question now is that the further amendments, including the amendment to the title, be agreed to.

Question agreed to.

Bill, as amended, agreed to.