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Tuesday, 21 June 2011
Page: 6786


Mr ROBB (Goldstein) (17:24): The last opportunity I had I asked about the government's spending performance. The minister spent most of his time debating previous budgets. I would be very happy to do that but the session is designed to debate, discuss and seek detail about the current budget. The current budget is struck in a climate where the terms of trade are at 140-year highs—not a bad climate in which to manage an economy. The current budget is struck at a time when we have a labour shortage with the changing demographics in the economy and the skills required for the mining sector, and an unemployment level just under five per cent. The point was made by the minister that they have had a very rigorous fiscal program, notwithstanding the global financial crisis. Given the fact that we are seeing terms of trade at 140-year highs and that those levels are expected to continue during the course of the next four years, how is it that the government appear incapable at the end of that four years to be within a bull's roar of the level of expenditure as a proportion of GDP that was brought down by the last government? That is question No. 1.

Secondly, the minister said that the government is able to maintain its low-taxation footprint because of the extraordinary capabilities of the Treasurer and his colleagues. The fact is that the reason the government has been able to maintain taxation levels lower than the previous government is that it did not include major items in its budget. For instance, it did not include the carbon tax. Minister, why did the government not include the carbon tax as it did two years ago in its expenditure items? If it had done that, it would have grossly exceeded the taxation formula and percentage of GDP of the last government.

The other point I would like to make is that the minister made absolutely no reference to the $107 billion debt. The fact of the matter is if you borrow like a wounded bull, you do not have to tax as much. Notwithstanding that, this government have brought in a carbon tax, a mining tax, a flood tax, a luxury car tax, a cigarette tax—taxes ad nauseam. They are a high-taxing government, but they have deferred taxation. When there is $107 billion debt that is deferred taxation—it will have to be paid off by taxation in the future. They are shifting the burden onto us, so that whenever we get the opportunity and privilege of government we will have to clean-up the mess they leave. Minister, why is this government not exercising the sort of restraint that would be considered in the middle of a 140-year high in terms of trade and in the middle of a world which is potentially likely to move into a double-dip recession? Why is the government not trying to protect and restore the resilience that this government inherited in terms of the economic conditions?