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Monday, 21 May 2012
Page: 4715

Mr CRAIG KELLY (Hughes) (11:57): To start with, I am very concerned about the entire premise of this motion. We have heard in this chamber the members for Petrie and Canberra compare Australia's economic performance with that of Spain to suggest that we are doing well. That reminds me of a friend I once had who would down eight schooners in a day and did not think he had a problem because he compared himself with other alcoholics who would down a dozen or more. That is what this government has come in this chamber to do today: to compare Australia's performance with Spain and say we are doing well.

I say we are here in the Asian century, and we should not be comparing ourselves with broken-down European nations who are now paying the penalty for engaging in decades of reckless and unsustainable spending, the type of which we have seen from this government over the last four years. Instead, we should be comparing ourselves with our Asian neighbours and other similar countries with resources like Australia's. By that comparison our performance over the last four years has been very ordinary. Take Singapore, for example; its current unemployment is just 2.1 per cent, less than half of ours here in Australia. Because Singapore has been banking surpluses year after year, this year it will enjoy $7 billion in return on those investments. In contrast, this year, thanks to Labor's deficits, we will have to pay out $7 billion in interest payments.

This motion also gives us the opportunity to look at the reason Australia has not descended into the basket case that is Spain. The answer is simple: it is because the last coalition government paid off the debt it inherited from the previous Labor government. It paid off every single cent of that $96 billion that the previous Labor government left, and it also paid back the interest on that—a further $50 billion. Let us not forget that this was done during difficult international times. It was done through the Asian financial crisis. It was done through the tech wreck of 2001 and it was done following the terrorist attacks of September 11. But we have seen what has happened in just four short years of this Labor government which, thanks to its reckless and wasteful spending, has run up the four largest deficits in this nation's history: a cumulative total of $174 billion. We have heard the government's speakers parrot the line, 'Don't worry—we are returning the budget to surplus.'

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms AE Burke ): It being 12 noon, in accordance with standing order 34, the debate is interrupted. The resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for the next sitting. The member will have leave to continue speaking when the debate is resumed.