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Wednesday, 19 September 2012
Page: 11249


Mr ABBOTT (WarringahLeader of the Opposition) (15:05): I move:

That so much of the standing and sessional orders be suspended as would prevent the Member for Warringah moving immediately:

That this House:

(1) notes the Prime Minister’s comment on 11 February 2011 that: 'Every time we announce something we properly account for it and properly fund it.';

(2) calls on the Government to explain where the money is coming from for its $120 billion of recently announced spending, including spending on disability services, additional funding for aged care, new funding for low-paid workers, increased costs of its border protection failures, funding of new defence projects, establishment of a new dental care scheme, and the provision of additional education funding;

(3) notes that Australia’s debt continues to approach $300 billion despite the Prime Minister claiming that the Budget is in surplus; and

(4) calls on the Treasurer to immediately rule out new increases in taxes for families and small business in order to plug their $120 billion Budget black hole.

Standing orders need to be suspended so that this House can have the economic debate that the Prime Minister herself called for at the start of question time—and she has now fled. Standing orders must be suspended because the nation's finances are descending into chaos and even the government's own backbenchers know it.

We have a Prime Minister who is spending like a drunken sailor, with one eye on the polls and the other eye on the member for Griffith—and doesn't she know it: doesn't she know that she has to keep an eye on the member for Griffith! This is why standing orders must be suspended, because yesterday, in the caucus, the Rudd forces made an organised hit on the Prime Minister and on the government's economic strategy. I am quoting from today's Financial Review:

Mr Swan faced questioning in the weekly caucus … from five MPs concerned about the government's plans.

In the Labor caucus room yesterday, outspoken Labor Left senator Doug Cameron, Tasmanian MP Geoff Lyons, NSW MP Janelle Saffin, NSW MP Ed Husic and Victorian MP Kelvin Thomson expressed concern about the government's spending priorities.

That is why standing orders must be suspended. What do all those members of parliament have in common? Every single one of them is a backer of the former Prime Minister. And we know it was an organised hit. We had the front page of the Financial Review; we had an almost identical leak from caucus in the Australian:

At least five Labor backbenchers yesterday tackled the Treasurer about the government's spending priorities and its ability to pay for big-ticket promises while protecting a budget surplus—

of just $1.5 billion this financial year. That is why standing orders must be suspended. But the organised nature of this hit by the former Prime Minister on the current Prime Minister is exposed by what else was said in both the Financial Review and the Australian. Again, I am quoting from the Financial Review of this morning:

Some senior Labor figures yesterday privately accused Ms Gillard of making a deal to help shore up union support for her leadership—

'union support for her leadership'. And there, in the Australian:

Labor MPs told The Australian last night they believed Ms Gillard's undertakings to union leaders running campaigns for government wage top-ups was all about "shoring up union support for her leadership".

So standing orders must be suspended because this is a government in fiscal chaos and this is what the parliament should be debating as a priority right now.

I have to say, in fairness to the Prime Minister, that her opponent's supporters are just as incoherent and just as economically illiterate as her own. We had Senator Cameron saying in the caucus yesterday that we needed more taxes. And then we had the member for Chifley saying in the party room yesterday that we needed to boost spending. And then we had the member for Bass saying that we had to have a special Medicare levy—more taxes. And then we had the member for Page saying that we needed more foreign aid—more taxes! And then we had the member for Wills saying in the caucus yesterday that we needed more spending. So, whether they are supporters of the Prime Minister or whether they are supporters of the former Prime Minister, it is the same Labor economic illiteracy.

We had the Prime Minister say today that her economic policy was based on Labor values. Well, we know what Labor values are when it comes to the economy: debt and deficit, tax and waste. And, at all times—and this is why standing orders must be suspended—they are making our economy less and less and less competitive.

What did the Treasurer do yesterday? Well, the Treasurer is simply making it up as he goes. We all know that this Treasurer wants to be known as 'surplus Swan', but we know what he is: he is always 'wasteful Wayne'. That is what he always is. And we had a classic example of this Treasurer's real spending priorities exposed in the parliament last week when we had wasteful Wayne's weaving workshop—like something out of the Life of Brian: wasteful Wayne's weaving workshop!—because this is a government that will spend whatever it takes to buy its way back into office.

Let us go through the list: the National Disability Insurance Scheme—a very good cause, but it will only be delivered by a political party which is fiscally prudent and fiscally responsible—is $10.5 billion a year; the Gonski changes, $6.5 billion a year; the assistance to childcare workers, $1.3 billion a year; the new submarines, $35 billion; the Nauru and Manus Island centres, $2.1 billion; the additional humanitarian intake, $1.3 billion a year; and then there is the dental scheme—and this is why standing orders must be suspended—some $4 billion; all absolutely, utterly and totally unfunded.

We had the Prime Minister tell us, oh so solemnly—the Prime Minister who will not even stay in this parliament to debate the economy, having demanded an economic debate earlier in question time today—'Every time we announce something we properly account for it and properly fund it.' Well, do you know what this is going to rank with? It is going to rank with: 'There will be no carbon tax—

Opposition members: under the government I lead.'

Mr ABBOTT: Another deception from a Prime Minister who will say and do anything to enter office and to stay in office. That is the tragedy of this country: having fibbed into office, this is a Prime Minister that will now squander this nation's fiscal inheritance to stay in office. We had the Prime Minister talking today about savings that this government has made.

We know what this government means when it talks about savings, don't we?

Opposition members: A tax!

Mr ABBOTT: It means a tax. That is what it means. The government talked about $100 billion of savings. At least $50 billion of that was new taxes. It talked about $33 billion of savings in this budget; half of it—$17 billion—was new taxes. The time for big-spending, big-taxing, big-fibbing government has gone. We will give the Australian people the decent government they deserve. (Time expired)

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms AE Burke ): Is the motion seconded?