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Monday, 21 May 2012
Page: 4710


Mr TUDGE (Aston) (11:36): You would think that with a government that is plagued with scandal, a government that has its Prime Minister on her knees, it would not come into this place and deliver a motion which reeks of such hubris. You would think that a government which is asking this parliament to increase the debt limit to a record $300 billion would not come into this parliament and move a motion which claims its economic success.

But this is exactly what this motion does. This government has the temerity to come in here and to claim, 'Haven't we been so successful? Haven't Australians been so lucky to have us?' Reading between the lines, it actually says, 'Haven't Australians never been better off than they are today?'

Australians are smarter than this government, because they know the real truth in relation to the economy. To start with, they know that we should not be comparing ourselves to Greece and to Spain and to Italy—countries which are on the brink of collapse. They know that their real-life experiences on a day-to-day basis show that prices are going up exponentially while their wages are only going up by two or three per cent per annum, and therefore making it tougher and tougher from a cost-of-living perspective. They know that if you are paying $8 billion or $9 billion in interest payments alone, which is what we are now doing as a nation, you do not have the economy under control.

This government has an enormous amount of hubris to come in and tell Australians that they should be thankful for their economic performance. Let us remind ourselves, in the time that we have available, of exactly what the government has done in relation to the economy. Let us just look at two or three key measures.

First of all, let us look at taxes. Since this government was elected at the end of 2007, there have been 26 taxes which have been introduced or increased: 26! That is almost every facet of our society and, of course, that is before the granddaddy of them all, the carbon tax, is introduced come 1 July.

Let us look at the expenditure side of the equation, as the member for Mayo pointed out. Expenditure has increased by $100 billion per annum since the Rudd government was elected. When the Rudd government was elected, the government was spending $270 billion: the government is now spending $370 billion per annum, and climbing. What do you think that extra $100 billion has gone towards? Do we see brand-new roads? Do we see all this rail infrastructure? Do we see the port bottlenecks being addressed? We do not see that. We see cars stuck in traffic, we see bottlenecks at the end of the Eastern Freeway, we see the Rowville rail link still waiting to be completed and we see ports up in Queensland not being developed. But we have seen, of course, an enormous amount of money wasted—gone! An enormous amount of money has been wasted on pink batts, on many overpriced school halls, on the green loan programs and on all sorts of other programs.

So that is on the expenditure side of the equation, and when you net those two out and look at the debt then you see that this government inherited a $20 billion surplus and they inherited $70 billion in the bank, and now we have had four of the biggest deficits in Australian political history, back-to-back, and we have net debt of $145 billion.

This government likes to claim that it is going to reach a surplus in the next financial year. We will wait to see if they are actually going to deliver that, because they said that this year's deficit was going to be only $12 billion and it ended up being $44 billion. So their claim of $1.5 billion has to be seen actually to be believed. But even if they reach that, it could take a full 100 years of those surpluses to pay back the debt that they have left us.

So that is the economic legacy of this government. That is the economic legacy: increased taxes, wasteful expenditure, record debt that will take years to pay off and flat line productivity. Next time the government puts up a motion like this, ask yourself why the Australian people are not thanking it for its record. (Time expired)