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Tuesday, 14 June 2011
Page: 6001


Mr SHORTEN (Maribyrnong—Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation) (19:28): Thank you very much. Of the five questions that were asked, two go to the issue of Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 2011-2012 and the debt cap. Again I would refer to standing order 76—

Mr Robb: You are going to take the fifth here, are you?

Mr SHORTEN: Listen, if you do not like the rules, change them. But they are the rules and, if you do not like them, go and have dinner.

Mr Robb: All right. That is what you want to do. You are a disgrace!

Mr SHORTEN: Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2011-2012, on the contrary—

Honourable members interjecting

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms S Bird ): Members will settle down. Members from both sides of the chamber will settle down.

Mr SHORTEN: Need I say Peter Costello?

Honourable members interjecting

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The minister will resume his seat for a moment. When we are all ready I will proceed. The Assistant Treasurer has the call.

Mr SHORTEN: In terms of Appropriation Bill (No. 2), which is the reference to the debt cap and the proposition to increase that to $250 billion, under standing order 76 that is not an item for consideration in detail. Are the opposition so bereft of ideas to talk about in all of Appropriation Bill (No. 1) that all they can do is squander their opportunities to ask questions on Appropriation Bill (No. 1) and instead refer to Appropriation Bill (No. 2), which they know is not up for consideration now? They know this. We said this earlier, reserved the right and gave fair warning to the eminent member for Goldstein to say Appropriation Bill (No. 1)—

Mr Tony Smith interjecting

Mr SHORTEN: The member for Casey keeps interjecting but he does not actually ask a question. Appropriation Bill (No. 2) relates to the issue with the debt cap. They know that, but the opposition would still rather focus on that, even though I have made clear that our net debt issues are very small in comparison to those of the rest of the world. So two of the five questions are to do with a bill which is not being considered tonight, but I will go to the other three points, as I can best recall them, from the member for Goldstein's question. The first one went to trade training centres. The second was about some correspondence to the Leader of the House. The final proposition was for us to change our mind, as I think he was putting it, on debating matters cognate.

Mr Robb: And the emissions trading scheme.

Mr SHORTEN: Yes, I am sorry, and the emissions trading system. Thank you, there were six questions. In terms of the procedures of the House, the government made clear and we put it up to the House that we will have the matters debated cognate. You had shadow ministers at the table. The member for Mackellar was there on duty, a sentinel for conservatism at the table, and she did not even raise a whimper. Whilst the opposition make great play at night, as far as I could tell the member for Mackellar had her eyes open. She certainly seemed alive, awake and breathing, a formidable sentinel for conservatism, but when the proposition was for all the bills to be debated cognate she said nothing—not a whimper, not a squeak. The member for Mackellar is a formidable advocate and I have seen her rise on less than a reason in the parliament. If the opposition think there was a reason to debate it, they missed it, so I can understand that they are embarrassed.

On trade training centres, we certainly have done some good work, but I think it is a little specious of the member for Goldstein to say, 'What's happened to apprenticeships, what's happened to trade training centres?' when in fact this whole budget is a telephone book of effort on doing more for apprenticeships, more for training and more for skills. There is a veritable telephone book of accomplishments, and I think I have given the page reference, in Budget Paper No. 1.

Mr Robb: What about trade training centres? That's all I want to know.

Mr SHORTEN: I am making it clear that when you talk about trade training centres you open the door to say apprenticeships. I am making clear that there is a great proposition on apprenticeships in this budget and we have done well with trade training centres so far. If the member for Goldstein misses them so much I just wish he had had the honesty to support them when we had them there.

Then we get to the issue of the ETS. I am surprised that the opposition are complaining that we do not do things like the ETS. If you liked the ETS so much, why did you vote it down? Why did you vote it down with your allies the Greens on that matter? The budget outlines decisions that have been taken. The short answer to the member for Goldstein is: the final decisions on the carbon price have not yet been taken. When you introduced the GST, when you said you were going to do it, you did not put it in your budget. (Time expired)