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Monday, 10 September 2012
Page: 9950


Mr HOCKEY (North Sydney) (14:50): My question is to the Treasurer. I remind the Treasurer that economic growth in the June quarter fell to less than half the rate for the previous three months, retail sales fell by nearly one per cent in July and ANZ job ads fell by over two per cent in August. On top of the falling company profits, falling commodity prices and deteriorating terms of trade, where will the Treasurer find $120 billion to fill the government's new big budget black hole?

Mr SWAN (LilleyDeputy Prime Minister and Treasurer) (14:51): I am pleased to answer the question, because here we have, yet again, the opposition talking down our economy. The shadow Treasurer is referring to the June national accounts data, which is simply outstanding data compared to what is going on elsewhere in the world. It does not mean to say that there are not challenges in our economy; there are. We know that sectors suffer from a higher dollar. We know there are other structural forces impacting upon the manufacturing industry. We know that a cautious consumer is making life difficult in retail. But, having said all that, when you have an unemployment rate as low as ours, when you have growth in a quarter that is faster than just about any other developed economy, it does not help the economy if the opposition is constantly talking it down. In the United States—

Mr Hockey: Madam Deputy Speaker, on a point of order: I asked the Treasurer where he was going to find $120 billion to fill the budget black hole. I did not ask him to give a running commentary on commentary.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms AE Burke ): The member for North Sydney will resume his seat. The Acting Prime Minister has the call.

Mr SWAN: In the United States, talking down the economy is called 'throwing sand in the gears' of the economy. As the opposition talk it down, they also try to talk down confidence—that is what they are doing. The allegation has been made by the shadow Treasurer that there is a hole in our budget, taken from a front page headline of the Financial Reviewwhich was dead wrong—completely wrong, completely inaccurate. Of course, we know that your $70 billion crater is there because you told us on morning television. You were sitting beside the minister for the environment when you confirmed that you have a $70 billion crater in your budget bottom line. If you want to disprove the fact that you put it into the media yourself, talk a walk down to the Parliamentary Budget Office.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms AE Burke ): The Acting Prime Minister will return to the question.

Mr SWAN: The truth is this. On this side of the parliament we operate a responsible fiscal policy—absolutely. On that side of the parliament they have a hidden agenda because their shadow finance minister told us about it when he was at Hayman Island. He said, 'We won't put any detail out; we'll do what John Hewson did, we'll hide it until after the election.' That is the approach on that side of the House. They can solve the problem with their crater. They can walk around to the Parliamentary Budget Office.

Mr HOCKEY (North Sydney) (14:53): Madam Deputy Speaker, I ask a supplementary question. I refer the Treasurer to his claim that the government has made $100 billion of savings over the past four budgets. Very simply, how much of these so-called savings have been tax increases?

Mr SWAN (LilleyDeputy Prime Minister and Treasurer) (14:54): I welcome that question and I have a question for him. Will he tell us how many dollars of the $100 billion he voted for?

Opposition members interjecting

Mr Pyne: Madam Deputy Speaker, I rise on a point of order. How is it relevant for the Acting Prime Minister to make a mockery of question time by answering a question from the opposition with another question?

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms AE Burke ): The Manager of Opposition Business will resume his seat.