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Tuesday, 25 February 2014
Page: 763


Mr HOWARTH (Petrie) (14:13): My question is to the Treasurer. Will the Treasurer please outline the importance of fiscal repair to the budget? What was the state of the budget inherited by the coalition?

Mr HOCKEY (North SydneyThe Treasurer) (14:13): I thank the member for Petrie. He is right. We were left a mess—$123 billion of deficits, $667 billion of debt and 200,000 more Australians unemployed than when Labor was elected just six years ago. And the budget is in a structural mess as a result of Labor's failure to meet its commitments. They said, they promised—the member for Lilley, the member for McMahon and the whole lot of them promised—that they would get the budget back to surplus. That is what they promised. They said: 'Don’t worry. Expenditure will not increase in real terms by more than two per cent.' What have they left us? They have left us with education expenditure rising at three per cent above inflation for the next 10 years; they have left us with health expenditure rising at four per cent per annum above inflation every year for the next 10 years; and they have left us with a pension bill that is increasing by three per cent more than inflation every year for the next 10 years—and they promised it would not be more than two—because they did not have the courage to make the decisions that needed to be made to fix up the budget and make sure that those most vulnerable in the community were cared for. Labor talk about caring for vulnerable people but they do not give a damn, because the net result of all their largesse, the net result of their incompetence, is that the debt per head of population—every man, woman and child—in Australia will double over the next 10 years, to $23,000 per man, woman and child, unless we can address the structural problem left by Labor.

We take intergenerational responsibility seriously. Of course, they did not just mislead the Australian people about the state of the budget. Oh, no; they went further. They retrospectively misled the Australian people about the budget, because Wayne Swan, in his own newsletter, says: 'We're back in surplus, on time, as promised.' So he is retrospectively fiddling the facts! Well, the truth is: they have left us with a legacy of debt and deficit that is unsustainable. If we want to have jobs, if we want to create new jobs, the only way to do that is through more growth, and the only way to get more growth in place is to get rid of the taxes like the carbon tax and the mining tax, to get the budget back on track, to invest in productive infrastructure, not to waste taxpayers' money and to get on with the job of responsible government.