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Monday, 27 May 2013
Page: 3887

Mr CRAIG KELLY (Hughes) (17:20): I rise to speak on the appropriation bills for 2013-14. Where does one start? Perhaps we should go back to 2007. We had the economy growing strongly. We had record low unemployment. The previous coalition government had fixed the problem that we had on our borders. Our borders were secure. The budget was under control. The previous coalition government had paid back $96 billion of the previous government's debt. What often gets forgotten is that not only did they pay back that $96 billion but along the way they also paid $57 billion worth of interest. So they paid back the $96 billion in debt and $57 billion in interest repayments. On top of that, they put $45 billion in reserve in the Future Fund. It often amazes me when I come into this place and hear members from the other side saying that the Howard government never did this and never did that. They had to pay back $150 billion of Labor's past debt and deal with that first before they could put aside $45 billion in the Future Fund.

That was back in 2007. Then of course we had the then opposition leader, Mr Rudd, acting as a John Howard light and convincing the Australian population that he should be given a go: 'It'll be all right. We'll continue. I'm a fiscal conservative'—I remember the words. That was back in 2007. Here we are with the Labor government delivering five deficits in a row, the five largest deficits in our nation's history—$192 billion combined budget deficits.

This year, after promising us a surplus, we end up with a $19.4 billion deficit, and we are still counting. The financial year is not over. I know there is talk about banning live odds. I would like to bet a few dollars that that $19.4 billion will blow out and be a lot more by the time the final figure is weighed in—coincidentally, after the election. Next year we are promised a deficit of $18 billion and the following year still another deficit.

I remember sitting down in the House 12 months ago when the Treasurer delivered his budget speech. I have a copy of it here. The budget speech delivered on 8 May 2012. He said:

I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

The Treasurer started:

The four years of surpluses I announce tonight are a powerful …

What a complete load of crock. He went on:

This budget delivers a surplus this coming year, on time, as promised, and surpluses each year after that, strengthening over time.

It goes on. The Treasurer also said:

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

He continued:

Surpluses that provide a buffer against global uncertainty, and continue to give the Reserve Bank room to cut interest rates for families—

And again:

… we're balancing the books.

What an absolute farce!

But it was not just in the budget speech. Take some of the other comments that we heard from the Treasurer and the Prime Minister. Here we have the Prime Minister on the Today show in November 2010. The Prime Minister said:

The Budget will be back in the black, back in surplus, in 2012-13.

Laurie Oakes said, 'Guaranteed?' The Prime Minister said, 'Yes.'

Then of course we had the Treasurer on the Sunrise program on 18 August 2010. The Treasurer said:

Well, we're getting back into surplus in three years, Kochie.

David Koch responded:

Okay, come hell or high water?

The Treasurer said:

Come hell or high water.

And of course it goes on. Then we had the Prime Minister in a speech on 13 April 2011 when she said:

My commitment to a budget surplus in 2012-13 was a promise made and it will be honoured.

We saw that promise broken. It was not honoured on budget night just a few weeks ago.

This language is detrimental to every elected official in our country. As politicians, we try to think that we do the right thing and have a proud reputation, but when we have a Prime Minister and a Treasurer that make statements like that time after time after time and when that is on top of the promise that there 'will be no carbon tax under the government I lead', is there any wonder that the public out there simply do not believe a word this government says? When they come in now and make all these grandiose promises, the public is simply taking them with a grain of salt.

When we talk about the debt and the failure to deliver a surplus and delivering none out of five and not being able to produce a surplus and running up the deficit, what does this actually mean to the public? If you look at this year's Budget Paper No. 1, page 10/9, 'Australian Government general government sector net debt and net interest payments', it shows the cost to the community.

If we go back to the last year of the Howard government, 2007-08, we actually had $45 billion in the bank. On that the country was earning $1,196 million in interest—$1,196 million was coming into the government revenue before we collected a cent of tax. If we look at that across the 150 electorates, that was $8 million for each of our 150 electorates coming into the country, that we could have done things with. Mr Deputy Speaker Symon, I am sure that in your electorate there are a lot of things that you could do with $8 million. I know I certainly could have. That money of course has all gone—spent—and of course the debt has been racked up year after year after year.

In this year and the next three years there is the interest that we must repay. Forget paying off any of the principal, just the interest alone. I will go through the numbers. This year we have to pay $8,238 million in interest. Next year it is an estimated $7.8 billion. In 2014 it is estimated at $8.4 billion and in 2015-16 it is estimated at $9.7 billion. This year and for the next three we as a nation must pay back in interest only, mainly to overseas foreign interests, $34.23 billion. That is $34,230 million that has to come from the pockets of the taxpayers of this nation and we send it mainly overseas just to pay the debt that this government has racked up. That is the cost. That works out at close to $1,500 for every man, woman and child in this country. Or $6,000 for every household of four. That is what is going to have to be taken out of their pockets to pay for the waste, the mismanagement and the dysfunction of this government. That is why we go on about the debt; that is why it is important to deliver surpluses; that is why this reckless spending must come to an end.

I could go on for hours and hours and hours about many objectionable things in this budget. In the remaining time, I would like to raise just a few. Firstly, the cuts to the self-education expenditures. The government has capped that amount at $2,000. How can we do this? How can we stand here and claim we want to be the clever country and talk about investing in skills, and yet we cut that rebate, the tax-free threshold, the tax break, down to $2,000? There are many industries where $2,000 worth of educational expenses can be spent in a day, especially in our professions. This policy is the exact opposite of what we should be doing.

Secondly, we come to Labor's carbon tax: a farce and a deception from day 1. The world does not owe us a living. The only way we can maintain our standard of living and to grow our prosperity is to make sure our nation maintains and protects its competitive advantage. The carbon tax trashes our competitive advantage. Of course we know the carbon tax is ready to go up. It will go up at the end of June and it is also set to go up the following year. And then it goes back to the European ETS.

When we look at the pricing assumptions, we see in 2015-16 that somehow the government forecasts that will be $12.10 and yet the current European forward price is less than $6. This is just incredible. The Treasury is basically saying—they have picked a commodity that the Treasury believe they have greater forecasting than all of the other modellers in the world, all of the other forecasters in the world, and they are telling us that the forecasting and the forward prices are actually half. If that is the case, if Treasury is so confident, we should go out and spend billions of dollars buying up these European carbon credits at $6 because our Treasury tells us it is going to go to $12.

And guess what: it gets better. They say that in 2019-20, this will be more than $35. These forecasts are a farce. They make a complete farce of Treasury forecasts and they question the autonomy of our Treasury and the accuracy of their forecasts. But it is not only that way with carbon tax, it is also the same with the mining tax. All of a sudden the mining tax—that tax has hardly raised any revenue and yet we are expecting these massive increases in the mining tax—going up and up and up—contrary to every other forecast.

Then we have the asylum seekers, a $400 million industry created by the Labor government. No doubt there are people smugglers throughout the world who will be cheering for a Labor victory on 14 September. We know we have had 40,000 arrivals on more than 680 boats since this Labor government reversed the Howard government policies. To put that in context: over four years we had three fleets that settled this country—the First Fleet, the Second Fleet and the Third Fleet. Those three fleets consisted of 26 ships and 4,000 people. We have had more than 10 times that arrive under this Labor government.

As I said, I could go on and on and on, but one thing that does concern me is what this government has promised on the NDIS. There is no-one in this chamber who wants to see a National Disability Insurance Scheme delivered more than I do. But, when we have a look at the numbers, the spending does not actually roll in until 2016-17. In fact, for the next three years, there is even less spending than the Productivity Commission recommended.

This budget is a farce. It is built on dodgy figures. The Australian people deserve better. On 14 September, there is a tsunami coming. We are going to see Labor members of this parliament wiped out from coast to coast. (Time expired)