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Thursday, 12 May 2011
Page: 3852

Budget


Mr HOCKEY (North Sydney) (14:08): My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer to the proposal by the government to increase its borrowing limit from $200 billion to $250 billion. Why is the government increasing the government's credit card limit while claiming to be paying off debt? Doesn't the Prime Minister agree that Australians struggling with a higher cost of living deserve a Treasurer with a steady hand, who doesn't fumble with the figures and fiddle with the facts?


Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (14:09): I thank the shadow Treasurer for his question. I agree with him that Australians do deserve a Treasurer with a steady hand, and they have one. They have a Treasurer who has delivered a budget that will return the budget to surplus in 2012-13 exactly as promised. When they look at the alternative, the shadow Treasurer, all of his claims, all of his mindless negativity, lands in a bundle at his feet tonight, because he has been wandering around saying that he could get the budget into surplus a year earlier than the government. So, if he is truly concerned about questions of debt and deficit, what he well knows is that to deal with debt and deficit you need to have a plan that gets the budget into surplus. We do.

Now tonight is the opportunity for the shadow Treasurer to give the Leader of the Opposition a page of figures which explains his plan to get the budget into surplus 12 months earlier. We await that plan. What we know about the shadow Treasurer is that he has been alongside the Leader of the Opposition in some shameful, farcical exercises when it comes to trying to put figures together. We remember their flood funding package farce earlier this year, when they said to the government: 'Gee, we could get all of this together. It'd be easy. It'd be easy to find billions of dollars of savings to rebuild the nation. We wouldn't need a flood levy,' they said. 'We'll produce the figures.' When they produced the figures they degenerated into a week of internal chaos. Because they were so desperate for savings, they snatched up a One Nation email. We remember the election campaign when presumably the shadow Treasurer was involved with the Leader of the Opposition in generating their so-called costings for the election? We remember the $11 billion black hole the shadow Treasurer was no doubt—

Mr Hockey: Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order which goes to relevance. The question is: why is the government increasing its own credit card limit while claiming to pay off the debt?

The SPEAKER: Order! The member for North Sydney will resume his seat. A member getting the call for a point of order is not an invitation to repeat the question. But if the question is going to be repeated it needs to be repeated in full. It was—

Mr Hockey: Okay.

The SPEAKER: Order! No. That is not an invitation from the Speaker. It is just a warning about how to handle a point of order. The Prime Minister is responding to the question. She should not also respond to interjections, and the member for North Sydney should not interject. The point of order is not upheld on this occasion.

Ms GILLARD: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I was asked about questions of budgeting, of debt, and I am responding to that question. I am particularly responding to what would have made circumstances for this country worse. And what would have made circumstances for this country worse, if we want to talk about questions of debt, is the shadow Treasurer's approach to accounting. He claimed in the election campaign that he had $50 billion of savings. He ran out and spent $40 billion of them and then, of course, Treasury found an $11 billion black hole. As I am advised, if we were pursuing the course that the shadow Treasurer recommended then there would be a deficit at the bottom of every year in the forward estimates in this budget. If the shadow Treasurer does not agree with that contention, he has a great opportunity tonight to give the Leader of the Opposition a page of figures which shows what they would cut to get the budget into surplus a year earlier, as the shadow Treasurer has said that they are able to do. If he cannot give the Leader of the Opposition that page of figures, he has failed the test of credibility. And if he does not give the Leader of the Opposition that page of figures, then the Leader of the Opposition will stand tonight before the Australian people as a risk to the budget surplus, a risk to their cost of living and a risk to our future economy.