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Tuesday, 28 May 2013
Page: 4135

Mr SECKER (BarkerOpposition Whip) (13:38): The member for Hunter raised an interesting issue: people expect more services, more products, more government help but they also want lower taxes. We all know that does not add up. What we really have to try and do is achieve the best use of taxpayers' money and more efficient use of taxpayers' money and not throw it away on things like pink batts, which this government did. I hasten to say also that I think you will find this election will be unusual in that there will not be a lot of promises out there for huge extra parcels of funding. I think in some ways that is a good thing. It is a good thing that people are starting to realise that we cannot keep up the continual spending of money that this Labor government has done in the nearly six years it has been in power.

He raised another point, about subsidising green industry. But unfortunately we have the perverse result, now, of poor people subsidising rich people, who can afford to put the solar panels on their roofs. That is one of the perverse results of subsidising industries. Those who most need the help to reduce their power costs—which have come about as a result of the carbon tax and other policies of this government—are not helped at all.

I was very disappointed with Labor's budget, but I was not alone in that. In my lifetime I have never seen such little and poor comment about a budget as we had this year. It was a very interesting phenomenon that we did not have much comment. I think there was not much expectation. Certainly the feeling I get out in the electorate is: 'The sooner we can get rid of this government the better. We have made up our minds; let's just get to the election as quickly as possible.'

This budget is in deficit for the fifth time in a row. The government promised last year that they will finally deliver years of surpluses—in fact they said they were delivering surpluses this year and the next three years—and we never thought that was achievable by this government, and we have been confirmed correct. It just further confirms the government's inability to manage money. It confirms that Labor's financial and budget management is in complete chaos—a stark contrast to the Howard government's strong economic record and consecutive surpluses. We achieved that through careful management.

In my lifetime I have seen three Labor governments. We had the Whitlam government from 1972 to 1975. I certainly remember their attempt to borrow $4 billion outside the normal constraints of government borrowing. That was nearly 40 years ago. I have not done the sums of what $4 billion would be worth today, but it would have to be something between $30 billion and $40 billion. The Whitlam government was trying to borrow that money outside the normal way. In fact, they tried to borrow it from the Baathist Party, of all places, which was Suddam Hussein's Party in Iran. The Whitlam government racked up debt and spending, and that is certainly in the DNA of Labor whenever they have come to government.

The second Labor government that I lived through was the Hawke and Keating governments. I point out to a lot of people that from Federation, in 1901, to 1991—in that 90 years—the government accumulated $16 billion of debt. We had to fund two wars, and as we all know they take a lot of extra funding that you would not normally spend. We had other skirmishes along the way. We built Canberra. We built the law courts, and certainly the federal government had to spend a lot of money over that 90 years.

In fact, there was $16 billion accumulated debt over 90 years. But in the next five years the Hawke-Keating government repeated that 90-year block of debt every year for the next five years, so that when we came into government there was $96 billion worth of debt. That was a record debt, until we got this government. We are already up to $176 billion of net debt. We have a gross debt which is going to go well over the $300 billion mark. Certainly that is a record in anyone's history books, by a long, long way.

That is the problem with Labor: they do not know how to manage the budget. They promise surpluses but deliver deficits. The Liberal Party, on the other hand, recognises that like families and businesses we have to live within our means. And it is with this guiding principle that we were able to deliver surplus after surplus when we were in government. It will also be the guiding principle for any incoming coalition government.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! It being approximately 1.45 pm the debate is interrupted. The resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for a later hour. The member for Barker will have leave to continue his remarks.

Sitting suspended from 13:45 to 15:30