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Wednesday, 11 May 2011
Page: 2288


Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (15:11): Before I correct Senator Forshaw's attempt to rewrite history, I want to congratulate Senator Wong, who, together with the Treasurer, Mr Wayne Swan, has been responsible for putting Australia in a position where we now borrow $135 million each and every day. We pay something like $18 million to $20 million every day in interest on those monies that Labor keeps borrowing. In the time we have had question time today, Labor has borrowed another $5.6 million—ticking it up on the credit card. That is something like $92,000 a minute. While I am speaking today, Labor will have borrowed something like $500,000—in the five minutes I have today.

Senator Forshaw reminded us of the Keating days. What he forgot to tell us is that, when we took government in 1996, we found a $10 billion deficit that had been hidden by the Keating government out of that year's budget alone. When we looked at the books, we found that there was a $96 billion deficit run up by Labor's prolific spending, Labor's incapacity to run a country without taxing, spending and borrowing. It took the Howard government something like seven or eight years to pay off Labor's $96 billion debt. We did that through a lot of hard work and here we are a couple of years later with another Labor debt of in excess of $100 billion.

No wonder they moved Senator Wong from climate change; they should move her from this as well, because she is completely incapable. She talks about what a great economy Australia has. Australia used to have a great economy. Why? Because John Howard and Peter Costello paid off Labor's $96 billion debt and then put us into a $50 billion to $60 billion surplus, which in two short years Labor has blown and run us into additional debt of over $100 billion. Sure, we had a great economy. It was recorded by I think it was the OECD as the miracle economy of the world when it was under the control of Peter Costello and John Howard. Now we are rapidly moving down to the bottom. As one of my colleagues interjected on the GDP, Labor would have us try and emulate those countries who are in debt to the extent of 90 per cent of GDP. It is not, can I say to Senator Wong, a race to the bottom. As I look through this budget I see very little for rural, remote and regional Australia and I see absolutely nothing for agriculture. The minister sits in the chamber—he should hang his head in shame. There is no new money whatsoever for agriculture. We have a cutback in the Defence budget of some $4.3 billion over four years. At least the Defence budget puts a bit of money into rural and regional Australia, but that is being slashed by this government. Dealing with asylum seekers, as one of my colleagues has mentioned, has eaten up $2.5 billion over five years out of this budget, due to Labor's incapacity and inability to manage it properly.

I note with some amusement the money allocated for the NBN rollout. I wonder where the 'private investment'—which was so lauded by Senator Conroy prior to the NBN starting—is. I see in the budget papers some reference to 'infrastructure bonds', but you ask them about it, you say, 'What are these about?' and nobody wants to talk about it.

This is a budget from a weak, indecisive government who simply cannot be trusted to manage Australia's economy. (Time expired)