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Monday, 25 May 2009
Page: 4074

Mr HOCKEY (3:08 PM) —My question is to the Treasurer. I refer the Treasurer to the Prime Minister’s answer a little earlier where he said peak debt would be $300 billion. The Treasurer said peak debt will be $315 billion. Treasurer, exactly where in the budget papers does it refer to $315 billion; and what will be the interest repayments on $315 billion of debt?

Mr SWAN (Treasurer) —This sort of pick-a-box stuff is so typical and shows just how opportunistic those opposite are. The member for North Sydney knows very well the figure I referred to was beyond the forward estimates. He knows it very well. It is there for everybody to see.

Opposition members interjecting—

The SPEAKER —Order!

Mr SWAN —It is there and he knows it. All this is is one giant camouflage for the fact that they have got no alternative fiscal policy, no alternative fiscal policy whatsoever, and no answers—no economic answers for this country when it faces its biggest economic challenge in 75 years.

Mr Hockey —Where’s the figure? Where’s the figure?

The SPEAKER —Order, the member for North Sydney!

Mr SWAN —And they are showing just how barren, how sterile, how devoid of ideas they are. This government have moved decisively. We have had three stages of fiscal stimulus which have been absolutely essential, given the growth contraction that has been imposed on us by the rest of the world. And we have acted on the best of advice. Could I just quote someone who is not known to be a rabid socialist; let us have a look at just what Mr Ben Bernanke has had to say about the type of action that this government have taken—why we are borrowing to support employment and to support businesses. This is what Ben Bernanke had to say in the US on 3 March:

We are better off moving aggressively today to solve our economic problems; the alternative could be a prolonged episode of economic stagnation that would not only contribute to further deterioration in the fiscal situation, but would also imply lower output, employment, and incomes for an extended period.

What we have done is everything within our power to support the employment of Australians and to support Australian businesses at this time of national economic threat. All we get from those opposite is this opportunistic approach because they are so devoid of any alternative ideas, so devoid of an alternative fiscal policy. They are so embarrassed by the fact that they have no alternative that we get this silly game-playing in this House and the pretence that they would not have to borrow to support this economy, given what has been imposed on this country by the rest of the world.

We on this side of the House are proud of what we have done with our economic stimulus. Seventy per cent of it has been put into shovel-ready projects and infrastructure, supporting employment from one end of the country to the other. What are the opposition doing? They are going out into their electorates and supporting the projects then coming in here and opposing them. Surely that says everything about their lack of courage. It says everything about their lack of commitment. They do not have the courage of their convictions because all they are concerned about is opportunistic politics. They do not have the national interest in front of them; they have the self-interest of the Leader of the Opposition, who the minister for infrastructure has just proven is a monumental hypocrite and opportunist—and the rest of them stand condemned by their actions out there in the electorate, supporting these vital projects and jobs then coming into this House and opposing them.