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Tuesday, 30 October 2012
Page: 12542

Budget


Mr ABBOTT (WarringahLeader of the Opposition) (14:33): My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer the Prime Minister to her statement on 13 April last year: 'My commitment to a surplus in 2012-13 was a promise made and it will be honoured.' Does the Prime Minister stand by that promise?


Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (14:33): Thank you very much. I note that the leader of the opposition is on other matters than carbon today, perhaps stung by the things I said to him yesterday or perhaps stung by Phil Coorey's piece in the Sydney Morning Herald this morning where several Liberal MPs told the Herald that Labor's recovery was now clearly a trend and Mr Abbott needs to broaden his approach.

Opposition members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Order! The Prime Minister has the call and will refer to the question before the chair.

Ms GILLARD: I thought the leader of the opposition might want to know the views of his Liberal team. On the question he asked me, as I said in answer to the shadow minister for immigration's question, we have just delivered—as the leader of the opposition may know—the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook. In it we have delivered billions of dollars in savings to return the budget to surplus and we are on track to deliver it.

What I would be interested to know from the leader of the opposition is whether or not, when those savings are presented to the parliament, the opposition will vote in favour of them or against them. They have been out there in the community basically saying that they are opposed to them but will they vote for them or against them? The leader of the opposition cannot be taken seriously on these questions (1) because he has not clarified that (2) because the opposition has a $70-billion black hole and (3) because the opposition is running, hiding and refusing to submit its figures to Treasury for proper costing.

When it comes to these questions of budget management, from the days of Peter Costello to now, it has been apparent that the leader of the opposition has no credibility. And no day in opposition has served him well because there is not one day that he has bothered to make a new policy statement of substance. There is not one day that he has done a proper costing. There is not one day that he has promised to put his figures in for proper assessment. There is not one day that he said he is prepared to abide by the charter of budget honesty. Until he does so then his contributions in this debate will be weighed for their worth, which is absolutely nothing.




Mr ABBOTT (WarringahLeader of the Opposition) (14:35): I remind the Prime Minister that when asked by Laurie Oakes in 2010 whether she could guarantee a budget surplus this year, her answer was an unequivocal 'yes'. Is this guarantee now as believable as 'there will be no carbon tax under the government I lead'?


Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (14:36): I am in a position where I will have to withdraw a statement. I withdraw that the leader of the opposition read Phil Coorey's column this morning; clearly, that is not true. On the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook, I stand by the words that I have just answered in the first part of the leader of the opposition's question. On the question of wording about surplus, I do recall the time in February where in three or four days the leader of the opposition said they would have a surplus 'as quickly as possible', the shadow minister for finance said 'it just depends', the shadow Treasurer said 'as soon as possible' and then the member of Sturt reverted to type and said he 'would have to look at the books'. Where have we heard that before? From Campbell Newman.

Mr Hockey: I rise on a point of order on relevance. If question time has any meaning, the Prime Minister has to be relevant.

The SPEAKER: The member for North Sydney will resume his seat. I was going to ask the Prime Minister to return to relevance but, if question time is to have any relevance, people need to be able to hear the answers being given and, at this point in time, I actually cannot. The Prime Minister has the call and will be relevant to the question.

Ms GILLARD: Thank you very much, Madam Speaker. As I answered earlier, have a look at the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook in which we have delivered billions of dollars of savings, adding to the billions of dollars of savings that we have delivered in the past. What that means is we stand by the figures in the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook and we are on track to deliver as the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook outlines.

Mr Dutton interjecting

The SPEAKER: Order! The member for Dickson is warned.

Ms GILLARD: Meanwhile, all we will see on that side, as we have seen in the papers today, are the divisions about the Leader of the Opposition's strategy because they too, over there, are sick of his negativity.

Mr Pyne interjecting

The SPEAKER: Order! The member for Sturt should not repeat the performance at every question time. The member for La Trobe has the call.