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Monday, 21 May 2012
Page: 4794


Mr MORRISON (Cook) (17:48): This is an unworthy budget from an unworthy government that Australians have stopped listening to. This is a budget that cannot be believed. It is a budget that sets out to pitch Australian against Australian. It is genuinely a Labor budget—a true Labor budget—that is once again more interested in distributing other people's wealth and demonising them in the process than in the creation of that wealth for the betterment of our nation.

This is a budget that has at its heart, just as this government does, a lie—the carbon tax that dare not speak its name in the budget or in the tens of millions of taxpayer funded advertising this government is insulting Australians with every single night. This is a budget, as the shadow Treasurer and the Leader of the Opposition have well argued, that is based on cooked books, where expenditure is hollowed out from next financial year, such as $1.3 billion in nation-building works, or the $1.1 billion on local government grants, or wiping expenditure from the Clean Energy programs only to see them reappeared the year after, all to inflate the deficit this year—a type of throwing good money after bad approach from this government and how they manage our finances—while pushing important expenditure like more than $5 billion in Defence funding, taking us to the lowest level of Defence expenditure since pre-war times, as well as absolutely welching on their grandstanding foreign aid commitment, leaving all of these things for later governments to pay for.

This is a budget based on rubbery numbers. The government expect Australians to believe that, after creating $147 billion in accumulated deficits, they are going to produce a $1.5 billion surplus next year. And they make this claim after blowing the current year's budget by more than $20 billion despite a 10.3 per cent increase in tax receipts and including an almost 20 per cent increase in company tax receipts. If you listen to the Treasurer, you would think that he has been losing money. But the fact is that revenue has been going up. The only thing that it has fallen from is the Treasurer's inflated expectations of revenue to prop up previous budgets.

Research by the Parliamentary Library shows us that the average variation between actual and budgeted expenditure for the budget year over the past 22 years, going back to 1990-91, is equivalent to 0.7 per cent of GDP—or on current figures around $9.2 billion. The actuals are on average 0.7 per cent of GDP, or $9.2 billion worse off than what ultimately appears in the budget, if you go back over the last 22 years.

That takes into account the swings and the roundabouts. Of the swings, when it was worse off in the actuals than what was budgeted for by the government the previous year, on eight occasions they were Labor budgets and on three occasions they were coalition budgets. And of the roundabouts where the actual was better than the budget was predicting the previous year, the majority were coalition budgets and only two were Labor budgets, which included one that was basically neutral. To put this in perspective, the Treasurer is asking us to believe that his budget surplus of $1.5 billion—which is around one-sixth of the average negative variation over the past 20 years—is in the bag. We in this place must tell him that he is absolutely dreaming.

But it gets worse. I will go to the statement by the Treasury secretary, Dr Parkinson. In his recent speech following the budget, he said:

Given the significant structural change in the economy, and the changing relationship between the nominal economy and tax collections, this is a particularly challenging time for revenue forecasting.

So not only do we have a Treasurer who says that he is going to deliver a surplus when he has never delivered one to date—in fact, he has delivered $147 billion in accumulated deficits—and that surplus accounts for a sixth of the average variation over the last 22 years, but also the Treasurer's own secretary of his department has highlighted the volatility of the things that are in front of us.

This is a Treasurer who thinks that he can out-predict and out-budget the best Treasurer we have ever had in this country, Mr Costello, and that he is even better than Paul Keating, from his own side. He thinks that he can effectively be the fiscal equivalent of a crack sniper in a hurricane, and he believes that the Australian people will accept at his word—because there is no track record to go from—that he will land this $1.5 billion surplus next year. Well, the way they speak about it in this place, you would think they had already achieved it. But, as the Australian people have come to learn, this is the government that overpromises and under delivers like none before it.

This is a budget that is betrayed by its own deceit. When we look at their request to lift the debt ceiling, they betray themselves. By asking to increase the debt ceiling by a further $50 billion, there is no greater proof than this that the government do not believe in their own forecast surplus. They are like an addict saying that they want just one more hit. After putting up the ceiling now on numerous occasions they say, 'Just one more time. Believe us; it will be the last time.' The Australian people have given up believing in this government—if they ever did—and they have certainly given up on listening to them.

There is $8 billion in interest for this debt. Eight billion dollars in interest per year is what we will arrive at over the end of the forecast period. In my own electorate, you could build the F6 tunnel under the shire three times over. In my own electorate—and a matter that is very dear to those in my electorate—you could build the second Sydney airport and its associated land transport infrastructure for the cost of one year's debt payments.

The cost blowouts, though, go even further. This is another Labor budget—and it is indeed another blowout on boats. In this budget not one figure that relates to the cost of managing asylum seeker costs has not blown out and will not get worse by the time this budget is finished. The only surplus Labor has delivered has not been for Australia; the only surplus that this government has delivered has been for the people smugglers themselves, who continue to profit year on year as a result of this government's soft policies. More than 18,000 people have now arrived since they decided that it was a good idea to get rid of the solution that had worked. Those more than 18,000 people provide in gross revenue—we estimate, based on the estimates of $10,000 per person coming from the interviews of people getting off those boats and being transferred to Christmas Island—around $170 million so far, and counting.

More than 10½ thousand have arrived since the last election. More than 4,450 have arrived since the community release and bridging visa scheme was announced late last November. Arrivals have increased since then to a rate of almost 750 per month. More than 1,000, for the first time under this government, have arrived this month alone and more than 250 have turned up in the last 24 hours. Today we learnt in Senate estimates that this government is budgeting for next year for 450 people to turn up a month—yet we have had over 1,000 this month and we had almost 1,000 in the month before.

As we have seen blowouts occur in the past, we will see these blowouts occur again. We have seen $4.7 billion worth of blowouts since 2009-10. In the past year, at the portfolio additional estimates, there was a blowout of $866 million. Since those portfolio additional estimates, there has been a further blowout of $840 million. There was a blowout within those figures between November, when they first considered the papers and the publication and the review of those in the additional hearings in the Senate, of over $220 million. So the costs just keep going up and up every time more and more boats arrive.

Rather than trying to address these issues, the government's response is simply to blame others for their own pantheon of failures. And it is a pretty big list: the government's first decision to abolish the solution that worked; then the government's decision to introduce their asylum freeze; then the government's decision to introduce the failed East Timor solution; and then the government's decision to introduce what proved to be the illegal Malaysian people swap, found by none other than the High Court. The government now want to cling to these failures and, if they want to do so, they should go and talk to their partners in the Greens—because, on this side of the chamber, we do not support bad policy. We support proven policy.

We will stand here today and we will say to this government, 'Put back the policies that work.' But for nothing other than their stubborn pride, the members on that side will sit there and cling to failure like a life raft. That is what they will do. They know that they can introduce offshore processing at Nauru today, with no legislation required, and temporary protection visas today, with no legislation required. But they refuse to do so because, if they do, then they have to admit that the 18,000 people who have turned up on their watch and the hundreds of people they know have perished at sea and the thousands of people each year they know are being denied humanitarian visas—

Mr Gray: Madam Deputy Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I ask that the speaker return to the bill. The bill is the appropriation bill.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mrs D'Ath ): The member for Cook has the call.

Mr MORRISON: Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. What I was talking about is the cost of Labor's border failures. Those costs are seen not only in the red ink in the budget but in the costs that individuals are having to wear in terms of their inability to access humanitarian places from offshore—and there are more than 4,000 that will miss out this year because those who have come by boat to Australia have taken their place. That is how our system works, and more than 4,000 people will miss out this year for no other reason than that this stubborn government cannot admit that they got it wrong back in 2008. They should never have removed those policies, and that act has led to the chaos and the carnage that has followed. It continues to this day, and for that government to sit there today and try to shift the blame to an opposition who stand ready, every single day, to support proven policy is a disgrace. It is a lame excuse.

We have a government that has given up on border protection and given in to the Greens, with their community release policies. Next year we will see over 8,000 people in the system as a result of this government's policies. That was confirmed in Senate estimates today. Back in February of this year they said that next year there would be 5,700. Now they are saying there will be over 8,000. The number in community detention and the number of those on bridging visas has doubled in their estimate just in the last few months—and that is before they even admit that arrivals are on the increase, because they are still budgeting on 450 arrivals per month. So what we are going to see next year, on these budget figures, is an increase of $424 million next year. That is $1.1 million extra every single day that taxpayers will have to shell out because this government cannot get over its own stubborn pride when it gets something so catastrophically wrong and continues to cling to failure.

This government needs to reflect on this because these budget figures are going to keep going up. They are going to keep blowing out, and they will continue to be an embarrassment, not only for the minister but also for the Treasurer, who presides over a budget that is sinking—and it is sinking within a fortnight of it being brought into this place. Already, with over 1,000 people turning up in May, the budget figures for the immigration department are in a mess; they are already in tatters. I have no doubt that when we get together again later in the year and we go through these figures again we will be told the same old thing: 'Well, we didn't know that this would continue to go on like this and we didn't think it would cost that much.' Well, if you keep doing the same thing, you cannot expect a different outcome. The outcome we have had from this government on border protection is more boats, more costs, more risks, more expense, more failure, more denial and more lame excuses from a government that has simply given in.

There is nothing wrong—whether it is on our borders or in our great country—that cannot be improved with an election and a change of government. As I move around, that is the message I am getting loud and clear from Australians of all walks of life. Those on the other side know this. They know that they are reaping what they have sown. What they have sown in border protection policy they are now reaping in the blown out budgets, those being denied humanitarian visas because of their own intransigence and incompetence and, of course, the risk of those who continue to get on these dangerous vessels. There is nothing wrong—on our borders or in our country—that a change of government will not improve. (Time expired)