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Wednesday, 21 March 2012
Page: 3783


Mr HUSIC (ChifleyGovernment Whip) (16:00): You get to hear a lot of crazy things in public life and in the sweep of public affairs. Only a few days ago we heard that apparently the CIA in tandem with the environmental movement is working tirelessly to shut down our Australian coal industry.

Mr Burke: Shame on them!

Mr HUSIC: I thought—exactly—I had heard it all, Minister, and then I saw this MPI. This is an MPI in which those opposite are calling for us to have budget transparency. I am going to hear the mafia call for law and order campaigns next.

These people on the other side are incapable of demonstrating what they are able to do in terms of even meeting a surplus, even being able to show where they could make savings.

Mr McCormack interjecting

Mr HUSIC: Member for Riverina, you can rest safe at night. Can I tell you, member for Riverina, that those opposite have been working very hard. In fact, the member for Goldstein, as your shadow minister for finance, is working night and day to find those $70 billion in savings. And do you know what? After all that painstaking research and all that time at night, he has had his eureka moment: $50 million in savings in government consultancies—$50 million down, $69,950 million of savings to go. Thank you for your great work in identifying savings. What a joke. We have had the fastest fiscal consolidation in four decades, and the best they can do is reach for that old chestnut of government consultancies where they reckon they can save $50 million.

You know what? I will be happy to compare our record with the record of those opposite any day. We inherited inflation at just under four per cent, now under three per cent. With regards to total tax take, when those opposite were in power tax as a percentage of GDP was close to 24 per cent; now it is 21 per cent and headed lower. Regarding interest rates, there were only six months of the 11 years that they were in office during which it got as low as 4.25 per cent. Regarding spending, the member for Goldstein lectures us about spending. Nominate a year in which those opposite were able to cut government spending. One year; just one year—nominate it. You cannot. In 11 years, they were unable to reduce real spending, and in fact it grew in the last five years—

Mr Tehan interjecting

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms AE Burke ): The member for Wannon is warned!

Mr HUSIC: When those opposite were in government, spending grew by close to four per cent every year. It has only grown by an average of 1.5 per cent a year under this government. The comparison is huge. If you look at it, we have had higher growth than many countries who had to go through the GFC; lower inflation; and lower unemployment. We are able to demonstrate a record that is way better than those opposite.

We have been asked to be transparent. Those opposite claim that apparently—I saw this the other day—they have 40 of 49 policy areas completed. Can you just name one—and not something small? Name us something that you have been able to achieve? You have said you are not bringing Work Choices back but where is your actual IR policy? You have now been for years working your way away from the claim that you are bringing back Work Choices, and the minute the business community sticks a stick in the cage, you suddenly find your courage and say: 'Oh no. We're bringing in flexibility.' Everyone in the general community knows that when you are talking about flexibility you are only talking about one thing.

The talk about transparency and they are unable, for example, to meet this simple challenge. Last weekend economist Stephen Koukoulas, ex Citibank, a one-time prime ministerial economics adviser, tweeted simply this:

The Govt publish its budget data twice a year: Can you publish your costings & program cuts? Just once?

He tweeted that to Joe Hockey, and Joe Hockey got uptight and responded to me by saying: 'That's unfair. You guys can't even get board appointments right.' I am thinking: you get back to me when you can work out how to appoint an auditor and then you can lecture me on how that should work.

Mr Perrett: Get a catering company!

Mr HUSIC: Or catering companies; that is right. The member for Moreton rightly points out when they want to challenge immigration department figures, they go to the caterers. Who are the chief immigration officers on Nauru? The guys from MasterChef?

They are unable to stand up to the challenge. We are being challenged to be transparent. Let us be transparent about the decision-making processes of the economic team opposite. Laurie Oakes back in February talked about the economic decision making of those opposite. He said:

In August last year, as the Coalition's expenditure review committee looked for potential savings, there was a leak.

A news report claimed that documents from the so-called 'razor gang'—

this is the one that works hard to find $50 million in savings to meet a $70 billion target—

revealed a warning by Hockey that $70 billion needed to be found.

In fact, well-placed sources say, the documents did not contain an overall savings target at all. Hockey provided it to shadow ministers when he spoke to them in person.

And—here's the devious bit—he gave each of his colleagues a different figure.

This from those opposite—there is trust aplenty in those opposite.

Mr Fitzgibbon: It might have been the CIA!

Mr HUSIC: That is right. The member for Hunter, the Chief Government Whip, points out rightly that it was the CIA perhaps. But those opposite are calling for transparency, yet even within their own ranks, within their so-called 'razor gang, they do not trust each other and hide real figures and are unable to show how they will get to surplus.

In fact, in early February they all took a big step back from even committing themselves to a surplus. In one week we had the member for Warringah, the member for Goldstein and the member for Curtin all taking a big step back as to when they would actually put a surplus together. We have committed to that process. They have been unable to, and their $70 billion hole has not been made any easier by their refusal to support the minerals resource rent tax. The reason is this: opposition policy is being shaped in the shadow of a magnate, and that magnate is Clive Palmer. When I think of Clive—our national treasure—I wonder where all the good billionaires have gone. Look at the quality of billionaires overseas. Bill Gates, former CEO of Microsoft, is worth $61 billion and has donated between $28 billion and $34 billion to charity. He has his Giving Pledge, a moral commitment of America's richest families. Billionaires in the US will donate at least 50 per cent of their fortunes to charitable causes of their own choosing. Michael Bloomberg is worth $19.5 billion and has signed up to the Giving Pledge; David Rockefeller—I know that they do not like Rockefeller opposite—is worth $2.2 billion and has signed up; Ted Turner, founder of CNN, is worth $2.1 billion; Boone Pickens, $1.1 billion; Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, is worth $44 billion and has promised to give away a full 99 per cent of his wealth. Then we turn back here to our home-grown billionaires. Over there they are building betting futures for others. Over here they are doing their best to wreck the A-League. What a contrast. That is what our billionaires do. Over there they donate half their wealth and here they put on tinfoil hats with antennas saying 'Take me to your magnate'. This is what we get from our billionaires: 'The CIA and environmentalists in an unholy alliance to destroy the coal industry'. What has happened to our home-grown billionaires? Why am I so concerned?

Mr Tehan interjecting

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The member for Wannon was warned. He will remove himself from the chamber under standing order 94(a).

The member for Wannon then left the chamber.

Mr HUSIC: There you go. Goodbye and take that tin foil with you.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The member for Chifley will restrain himself.

Mr HUSIC: I withdraw. It is because I am concerned. There is a huge influence of Clive Palmer.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The member for Chifley does need to be slightly relevant in his last 56 seconds if he can.

Mr HUSIC: It is about transparency of the budget process. Those opposite have said they will repeal the MRRT and will be doing so because they have got someone who, since 2004-05, has donated a total of $3.7 million to the coalition.

Mr McCormack interjecting

Mr HUSIC: Wait for it, Member for Riverina: compare the $3.7 million Clive Palmer has given to your side with the $150,000 he has given us. Those opposite, who are committed to repealing the MRRT, are unable to be transparent in the way they operate and are unable to determine or show us how he influences policy, and they then lecture us about transparency. It is a joke. (Time expired)