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Monday, 27 May 2013
Page: 3861


Mr BALDWIN (Paterson) (15:30): Thankfully, this budget is the last Labor budget to be delivered before the next election. This budget proves that a vote for Labor at the next federal election will be a vote for chaos. The Gillard government's financial and budget management is in absolute and complete chaos. Labor's budget gives us more debt, more deficit, more taxes, more broken promises and more uncertainty—all from an incompetent, mendacious government that cannot be trusted.

The Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2013-2014 and related bills highlight the contrast between Labor and the coalition when it comes to economic management. For example, the last budget delivered by a coalition government saw a $19.7 billion surplus. The word is 'surplus', Madam Deputy Speaker. The last budget delivered by Labor saw a $19.4 billion deficit—I repeat: 'deficit'. They are very similar figures; however, one is in the black and one is in the red. This highlights the complete reversal in the government's economic fortunes under this Labor government.

Australia entered the global financial crisis with no public debt, a $20 billion surplus, $60 billion in the Future Fund, a $6 billion Higher Education Endowment Fund and a record low four per cent unemployment. Australia entered the global financial crisis with a well-regulated financial sector, a reformed labour market, strong public finance balance sheets and conservative fiscal and monetary policy settings—all courtesy of the former coalition government. As a consequence of the hard work and the economic discipline of the coalition, Australians saw relatively modest effects from the previous global financial crisis.

Despite Labor promising to be an economic conservative during the 2007 election campaign, we saw those TV ads ad nauseam with the then Leader of the Opposition, Kevin Rudd, and deputy leader Julia Gillard with hands on hearts, saying: 'We are economic conservatives.' This Labor government subsequently embarked on a massive spending spree that put the federal budget into record deficit. The spending spree included billions of dollars on pink batts, unnecessary and overpriced school halls and $900 handouts. This government failed to get value for the taxpayer's dollar. Yet every dollar the Labor government has spent in this budget is borrowed money. It will all have to be paid back by the taxpayers of the future. This money is borrowed from the earnings of future generations of Australians.

Labor's debt and deficit is true to Labor form. When the Labor government say that this is a Labor budget, they really mean it—a Labor budget of debt and deficit, combined with defeat. There is a member of this parliament, in the House of Representatives, the member for Longman, who has never seen Labor deliver a surplus in his entire lifetime. This Gillard government just does not understand that it is spending other people's money. Labor have not been able to balance those books since 1989. With all the talk about online betting, this mob has got form. If you were to take odds on whether they would ever post a surplus, I am pretty sure you would get very high odds.

Last year, the Treasurer promised a $1.5 billion surplus, but instead he has delivered a deficit more than 12 times as big at $19.4 billion. The deficits announced by the Treasurer this year came after more than 500 promises of a surplus. My favourite line from this mendacious, deceitful government is: 'There will be no carbon tax under a government I lead'. But I have to say the Treasurer gets pretty close when he says:

The deficit years of the global recession are behind us. The surplus years are here.

An opposition member: That is last year's budget speech.

Mr BALDWIN: Last year's speech on the budget, as my colleague here says. So if Australians could not trust Labor's word last year, how can they possibly believe them going into an election year? Previous election: no carbon tax under a government I lead; this election: surpluses in the future. Each of them has about the same level of credibility—credibility because Labor lacks credibility.

Labor's legacy to Australians is more than $250 billion of debt. That equates to debt of around $10,870 for each Australian. By the way, when we left government it was just in excess of $4,000 per person in surplus. So $10,870 for each Australian in debt. A family of four would be struggling with Labor's cost-of-living increases. And not only has the mortgage gone up, but so have the Visa and MasterCard bills. But thanks to the Rudd-Gillard government, their share of Labor's debt could be up to $43,480 per household. And the problem with Labor's debt and deceit and deficits is in fact the waste, the failure to get value for the taxpayers' dollar.

Labor likes to talk a lot about infrastructure, but in 2013-14 they will spend $3.5 billion on the roads. To put that into context, that is less than one per cent of the budget's $398 billion spending. In contrast, the budget papers reveal yet another blowout in the management of Australia's borders by at least $4.7 billion since last year's budget. The $13 billion interest bill that this government now faces because of Labor could have been used to deliver tax cuts or, more importantly, to fund other programs. Both the NDIS and Gonski could have been fully funded and paid for without a levy if we were not paying $13 billion in interest rates. What we have is a government complicit with debt and deficit, and Australians are paying the price for economic incompetence.

Let there be no doubt: the coalition very strongly supports the NDIS. We have been asking the Prime Minister since its inception to form a joint party committee so we can take the politics out of the issue. The Prime Minister, perhaps the most partisan Prime Minister I have ever seen, has declined that offer. Last week I met with the Mai-Wel Group, a disability service provider to the people in the Hunter Valley, just outside my electorate. It is clear to them and it is clear to me that the government still has not done all its homework on the NDIS. There are questions still on when, how, who and where still to be answered fully. The NDIS rolls out in Newcastle in five weeks time, Lake Macquarie in 2014, Maitland in 2015, and yet service providers still have questions that need to be answered. I fear for the expectations being delivered to those with disabilities that they may be let down by this government, but the coalition is right behind the NDIS.

I spoke earlier about how the Gillard government had failed to prioritise infrastructure spending. Its decision in this budget to backend fund projects in the never-never over 10 years is like a scene straight out of the TV series The Hollowmen. Like The Hollowmen: 'Let's make promises in the never-never that we know we're never-never going to have to deliver'. I note the minister for infrastructure, Mr Albanese, and Senator Thistlethwaite have been seeking praise for the budget allocation to the Bulahdelah bypass. In their press release, they talk about $300 million. It is due to open in a number of weeks. Work has been underway on that bypass for the past six years. It was actually started by the Howard government, but this government seeks to take credit for $300 million—all spin instead of the tail-end funding to complete the project in the next couple of weeks.

I would like to quote from an article now that appeared in the Newcastle Herald during the 2010 federal election. It is all about funding and how magnificent local members are. It says:

THE new mining tax would be used to pay for an overpass for the rail crossing on the New England Highway at Scone, in a significant election sweetener rolled out by Labor yesterday.

That was about Mr Fitzgibbon, the member for Hunter. I want you to note that word: overpass. Overpass means when you build this little bridge and the traffic goes up and over the railway line and keeps going. It does not need to stop for trains.

Despite originally getting only a couple of million dollars for a study, the member for Hunter has now been crowing about funds back-ended in this budget for a Scone level crossing. You do no have to be Einstein to work out that there is a lot of difference between a level crossing upgrade and an overpass. The promise originally to the people in that area was for an overpass—and what they will get is an upgraded rail crossing. The member for Hunter will go on promising that this will be delivered, like he promised at the previous election. Now he will hang his hat on the F3 extension. Straight after the 2007 election he said, 'No, it won't be built; there's no money.' It only got built when he got himself into trouble.

How could anybody trust Labor to deliver on anything? It has never delivered on a surplus. It has never delivered on core funding commitments to our community. In this budget alone Labor has broken so many of its own promises, including not proceeding with the increase to Family Tax Benefit A, abolishing the promised tax cuts for 2015-16 and cancelling the company tax cuts that would have commenced in 2012-13. And who could forget the mining tax that was supposed to share the benefits of the boom that has only raised a fraction of what Labor claimed it would? It did not stop it spending the money, but it only raised a fraction.

This is a government that does not understand budgets, does not understand taxation and, worse still, does not understand the expectations of the Australian people. Australian people can understand when you have to deliver bad news and tighten the belt, but the Australian people will never accept a government that breaches fundamental trust by deliberately misleading them before an election and doing something different after it. It started with 'There will be no carbon tax under a government I lead', it has been escalated with, 'There will be budgets surpluses into the future' and it has been delivered the final blow with the broken promises that I have just outlined.

I will obviously hear members who talk about how magnificent it is that Defence spending has finally been reinstituted. I would also point out that over the last four years $25 billion has been ripped out of the portfolio—that is, projects that have not proceeded, especially small contracts. There has been no substantial planning or direction on things like submarines or the future of frigates. There is so much underspend that it has put a lot of Australian Defence support industries into chaos. Like always, it will be the coalition that has to step in, clean up the mess and deliver national security and real outcomes for our community.

There are two industries in our area where ministers like to turn up, have their photos taken and talk about the great work they are doing. They are not impressed with the Defence cuts and the effects it has had on their businesses. In particular, the workers at those places who face uncertain economic times because of the mismanagement of this government.

I could speak for hours about the impacts of this government on the Australian economy. There are all of the misleading statements and failure to deliver, but there is one thing that concerns me more about this budget. This government talks about the need to support Australian families, to support growth and opportunity. Their favourite catchline phrase at the moment is 'Cut to the bone.' They have not only cut to the bone but also they have cut through the artery of pride in this nation. No longer can Australian people take any resemblance of pride in their government after what they have done, creating a slow death financially for the people of Australia.

I am looking forward to the budget consideration in detail, where I will focus on my portfolio area of tourism and regional development, as I hold the minister to account for the cutbacks and failure to deliver in those portfolio areas.