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Thursday, 30 May 2013
Page: 4660


Mr MORRISON (Cook) (11:18): Another budget has come and gone, and once again what we saw was another exercise in what I can only describe as pure fiscal fantasy. Each time the Treasurer gets to the dispatch box and presents his budget, it is simply just another fairytale. He should have got to his feet on that day, a week or so ago, and begun his speech with 'once upon a time', because that has been the nature of every single one of his budgets. They have been works of fiction in their projections, particularly of revenue, and the bullish forecasts they have made.

The great difficulty with the Treasurer's approach is that he is always spending money that does not come. The great difficulty that will be faced by a coalition government, if we are elected later this year, is that we cannot get back the money that this government has already spent. They have spent thin air on so many occasions, and the budget has fallen into a state of disrepair. It will be an enormous challenge and task to fix that mess. Having promised surplus after surplus, year after year, the government has now delivered deficit after deficit. If we look into a future under this government, all that we can see are deficits, all that we can see is more debt, all that we can see is more expenditure from a government that thinks it is the answer to every single problem. The answer to our country's problems is not more Labor; it is not more government. It is more faith in the businesspeople of this country to generate wealth, to grow our economy, to get government out of their faces and out of their way to allow them to build the wealth in this country that they have done so successfully on so many occasions previously.

One of the most disturbing things I have witnessed in this place was the statement by the previous prime minister, Prime Minister Rudd, who said, 'We need to put government back at the centre of the economy.' That was a chilling statement. What we see in these budgets that this government has brought down is that that philosophy lived. The Australian taxpayers are paying for it not just today but through a generation, as taxpayers had to do under the Whitlam government when it was finally dispensed with by the Australian people. We are going into that same phase again.

The good news is that coalition governments, whether they are elected, are known for many things but one thing in particular; they are how to clean up a Labor mess. They know how to do that because we have done it as a coalition on so many occasions—not just at a federal level but also at a state level. In the Deputy Speaker's own state of Queensland, he knows that presently. I know it in my state of New South Wales. We know it in Western Australia, we know it in Victoria and we know it in the Northern Territory. We are looking forward to that opportunity in South Australia and we are looking forward to that opportunity in Tasmania because there are messes to clean up. But the father or mother of all messes is the fiscal disrepair that this government has left this country in.

At the debt continues to rise, there is a big job to do and a big mess to clean up if we are elected later this year. My support will be strongly for an incoming Treasurer in the member for North Sydney, if elected. Certainly, the shadow Treasurer will have big shoes to fill from a coalition perspective, in the form of the greatest Treasurer this country has ever known in Peter Costello. Similarly, the shadow ministers on right across the front bench on our side will have big shoes to fill, as do I in my own portfolio responsibilities, if I have that opportunity, in following the father of the House and the minister for Immigration in the Howard government, the member for Berowra. That is our challenge. It is a challenge and a task that we ask the Australian people to give us the responsibility to do; to go and fix Labor's mess. That opportunity will present on 14 September.

More specifically in the area of my portfolio responsibilities, once again the fantasy of what is presented in these budget papers, in the portfolio estimates for the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, is absolutely breathtaking. These estimates show that in 2013-14 the costs particularly in relation to the management of illegal boat arrivals to Australia will rise to $3 billion. That includes the increased expenditure which has been allocated to expand the refugee humanitarian program—all of that increase will be taken up by those who have come on illegal boats. It was $85 million per year when the coalition government left office.

There is a reason for this rise. We all know the tragic record of this government on our borders. But what is driving those costs is the unprecedented rate of arrivals. Those arrivals have gone from an average of two per month to this financial year's average of over 2,000 per month. In these last two months we have been running at over 3,000 per month. They are astonishing figures. They have astonished me, because this government always manages to beat my worst expectations of it when it comes to this issue. When I think it can only do so badly it always exceeds those expectations and does even worse. That has been the story. Twenty-three thousand people or thereabouts are in the system currently; 23,000 who have arrived illegally on boats are in the system, with some in detention or in community detention on bridging visas, and 19,000 have not even had their processing commenced yet. When we left office in November 2007 there were four people in the system—not 400, not 4,000, not 40,000, there were four. That is what is driving these costs.

In this budget, the forecast is, after $3 billion expenditure in 2013-14 and the government continuing with their failed policies, a 40 per cent cut of $1.2 billion for the following year. This figure is going to miraculously fall by $1.2 billion. In the out years, there is a cut of 50 per cent. What is that based on? That is based on a forecast for next year that the level of arrivals, which at the current rate of over 2,000 per month, is going to fall to 1,100 per month. What is going to produce that? Who knows; the government cannot articulate that. Their policies are the same, their failed resolve is the same, their incompetence is the same, but somehow these arrivals are going to stop. Maybe the government are assuming that the people smugglers have grown tired of making so much money and they will self-impose early retirement. But that is clearly not going to happen. They will make as much money out of human misery for as long as they can and as long as this government allows them to, which is, frankly, as long as this government serves. If this government is re-elected then this will continue and the cost will continue in all its forms.

The government are projecting that the number of arrivals in 2013-14 will be 13,200. It is anticipated this year the number will be 25,000. At the end of the projection of the forward estimates, they are assuming the number, based on a 10-year rolling average which includes five years of the Howard government, will be 2,325. This is a 90 per cent decline, and that is what they are budgeting for. It is not surprising that the head of the Department of Finance indicated in estimates this week that if arrivals continue at the current rate, which is over 3,000, or even at an average rate for this year of over 2,000 per month, then they will be revising these estimates for PEFO. That would give a truer reflection of the real cost of another three years of Labor and their mismanagement of our borders.

The blowouts over time are staggering. Since 2009-10, the total amount of blowout, the capital and recurrent expenditure over the full forward estimates period, has been $10.3 billion. For the assistance of those who question that figure, I will go through what it comprises. In additional estimates of 2009-10, looking at the budget handed down for 2009-10, the blowout was $207,535,000. The following budget estimates, for the 2010-11 budget, there was a further blowout of $793.5 million. At the subsequent additional estimates following the 2010-11 budget, there was a further $472.2 million blowout. At the following budget for 2011-12, there was a further blowout over the forward estimates of $1.528 billion. Then in the additional estimates that followed that, in 2011-12, there was a further $866.2 million blowout. In the budget that followed that, for 2012-13, there was an $840 million blowout. We then come to the additional estimates for this year, including the supplementary estimates in November, where there was a blowout of $1.144 billion.

You would think that was enough. The cumulative total of those blowouts at that time was $5.8 billion. But in this budget they again exceeded all of my worst expectations of them. There is a blowout of $4.1 billion in this budget alone, since the additional estimates earlier this year. When you add to that the additional funding in the budget provided for the increasing refugee and humanitarian program, which will only be taken up by those who come illegally on boats, that is another $358 million, which takes us to $10.3 billion. And as at the end of this financial year, $5.2 billion of that well already have been done—they will have spent the money—and the remaining blow-out will occur over the forward estimates if Labor are elected.

That is an appalling record. Had we stood in this place three years ago and said that we were going to get to 3,000-plus people turning up each month, that there would be 19,000 people locked in an asylum freeze, that there would be 23,000 people in the system and by the next election probably around 30,000 people, those opposite would have accused the coalition of being hysterical. They would have said that that is just inflating what could happen. They would have said we were taking the low road, I suspect, but that is what has happened. Those are the facts. That is what has occurred by this government being re-elected three years ago. We said, 'If you re-elect this mob, it will get worse and it will cost more.' That is exactly what has happened. That cost has been reflected not just on the balance sheet of this country but in human lives.

I do not think these figures represent what it will cost. We are already seeing chaos emerging with the bridging visa program, which is dumping people in the community, out of sight, out of mind, with no care and no responsibility. We are seeing that played out in our community and the government is looking the other way. Even state police forces asking for support and assistance through the provision of information about where people are being released into the community are being denied that information by this government. State police forces are denied access to critical information which would help them do their job, to protect the community and to protect those being put into the community because that is also their job.

People do not have work rights in the community and the coalition would not change that but we would give people something to do. We would put in place a mutual obligation program which would put people on work for the dole. We would appeal to people to work, not to pay people smugglers but effectively to earn the welfare they are being provided by Australian taxpayers and to allow them to work with community organisations and with local councils all around the country. This would give them something constructive to do, which will achieve two things. It will be good for their peace of mind and it will be good for their mental health and well-being, rather than just sitting around all day with nothing to do. While their processing remains stalled and frozen, every single day they will be out in the community doing positive things. We will also know where they are and what they were doing, and we will receive a daily update on their status. That is well thought through policy, not the community dumping policy of this government, which frankly they should be ashamed of as the burden is not just on taxpayers but on those supporting welfare organisations out of their own pockets. This budget is a fantasy and Australia cannot afford three more years of it.