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Tuesday, 28 May 2013
Page: 4171


Mr SECKER (BarkerOpposition Whip) (18:22): As I was saying in the previous sitting of this chamber, we have experienced three large areas of debt—firstly under the Whitlam government, then under the Hawke-Keating government and now under this government. They tried to come up with all sorts of excuses that really resembled things like 'the dog ate my homework'. There is the excuse that the government has a revenue problem. In fact, revenue in 2013-14 is over $80 billion higher than it was in the last year of the coalition government, just six years ago; but spending is $120 billion higher. So revenue is $80 billion higher but spending is $120 billion higher. The government really has a spending problem, not a revenue problem, and so it cannot use that lame excuse with any credibility.

The Australian people deserve better than the empty 'surplus' promise and spin. They work hard for their money and deserve a credible economic strategy. Australia cannot afford to keep running up record debts and deficits, and only a coalition government has the right people and experience to get this country back on track. To pay off the debt that we have already accumulated under this government, we, the taxpayers, are paying $35 million a day to pay the interest charges on that debt. In my electorate, I have 35 communities that would love to have $1 million to spend in their community, but we are using it to pay off our debt—well, it does not actually pay off the debt; it only pays the interest on the debt bill.

When we look at this budget, we see that it does nothing to help Australian families with the rise in the cost of living. The budget will deliver more than $25 billion in higher taxes over the next four years, and 99 per cent of that will hit Australians after the next election. The coalition does have a plan to take the pressure off families, and it starts with abolishing the carbon tax. Abolishing the carbon tax will take pressure off electricity and gas prices, and that will provide much needed relief to household budgets. Families and pensioners will also benefit by fully retaining the income tax cuts and fortnightly pension and benefit increases associated with that carbon tax. This is a commitment that is fully funded and accounted for by equivalent reductions in government spending—something that this government does not seem to understand.

The Productivity Commission will also be tasked with examining ways to make child care more flexible for people like shift workers, who cannot access the mainstream childcare system. The coalition do get it when it comes to family living costs and they understand how important it is to take the pressure off family living costs. But we know that it can only be done with the right economic plan.

Only this Labor government could invent a mining tax that hardly raises any revenue but destroys confidence. The forecast revenues from the mining tax have collapsed from $22.5 billion to $3.3 billion over the first four years. Despite the failure of the mining tax to raise any meaningful revenue so far, Wayne Swan's 2016-17 surplus promise relies on mining tax revenue increasing by more than 10 times its level this year. That is a big call. We will abolish the mining tax, and abolishing the mining tax means supporting investment and jobs.

We will also help small businesses grow and create more jobs by cutting red- and green-tape costs by $1 billion every year. Under a carbon tax, small businesses are paying at least 10 per cent more for their electricity and nine per cent more for their gas. The coalition will abolish this carbon tax. The blow-out in the management of Australian borders is at least $4.7 billion since the last budget and is just getting worse. Overall, it has cost taxpayers more than $10 billion over budget, when in the last years of the Howard government it was costing virtually nothing.

This budget also assumes that boat arrivals will phase down—that is the term used—over the next four years, despite arrivals now at a record and increasing level. We need to stop the boats. The coalition has the experience and the right plan to stop the boats—after all, we have done it before. We can do it again. Remember, John Howard inherited a problem and crafted a solution. The current government inherited a solution and created a problem. To stop the boats, we need rigorous offshore processing for illegal arrivals. We need to reintroduce temporary protection visas and we need to give the Navy the option of turning back the boats where it is safe to do so.

Labor, unfortunately, has no interest in Australia's primary sector or in the regional communities dependent on agriculture. Labor has cut millions from the department's already strained resources and has cut millions from cooperative research centres, which means fewer CRCs are funded each year and, as most of the CRCs are agriculturally based, there will be less funding for agriculture. Labor has also reduced the exceptional circumstances budget by hundreds of millions of dollars and has refused to acknowledge the exceptional circumstances of the floods in many states.

Labor has cut cargo-screening resources at ports and airports, resulting in 4.7 fewer air-cargo consignments being inspected each year and 2,150 fewer vessels being boarded on arrival. That puts our security at risk. Labor has also cut $63 million from agriculture research within the CSIRO and closed CSIRO agricultural research sites in Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia. We all know that Labor's kneejerk reaction to suspend live exports to Indonesian abattoirs severely damaged our $1 million industry, weakened industry confidence and threatened jobs.

The coalition will stop farmers, regional communities and the agricultural sector paying more for electricity and gas, by abolishing the carbon tax. It will also support the live export industry, as it has in the past. We believe that maintaining the live export trade will be the best way to improve animal welfare and to reward those abattoirs who do the right thing. The coalition in government will be able to restore confidence by reversing the damage that Labor has done—and they have done a lot of damage.

The Labor Party are very good at announcing big-ticket items but hopeless at paying for them. Debt continues to rise. The gross debt is most likely to exceed the $300 billion limit within the forward estimates, and this government is wasting $7.8 billion a year on interest payments alone. The spending spree has to end, and the coalition has identified savings that will be implemented if the coalition is elected to government in September. We will rescind the increase in the humanitarian intake. We will reduce through natural attrition by at least 12,000 the size of the Commonwealth public sector, which is now 20,000 bureaucrats bigger than it was in 2007. We will scrap Labor's green loans scheme for a project that banks will not touch. (Time expired)