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Wednesday, 15 May 2013
Page: 3262


Mr ABBOTT (WarringahLeader of the Opposition) (14:00): My question is to the Prime Minister. I remind her that she promised on at least 165 separate occasions to deliver a budget surplus in the current financial year. 'Failure is not an option,' she said, 'and we won't fail.' Given that the government is now forecasting a deficit of $19 billion for this year, how can Australians trust any of the commitments in last night's budget?

Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (14:01): I thank the Leader of the Opposition for his question. What you need to do as Prime Minister is deal with the facts, and the facts are, of course, that in our economy we have seen circumstances that have led to very large revenue write-downs—that is, less tax money coming into the government than was expected. That is as a result of the combination of the hangover from the global financial crisis and the high Australian dollar and its impact on the Australian economy, particularly on company profitability. If companies are less profitable then they are paying less tax. I think many Australians, from a common-sense point of view, know that to be the case.

To the Leader of the Opposition I say that what budgets are about is accepting the facts and then showing your choices—showing the choices that you stand by and believe in. What the government has done in this budget is continue our focus on jobs and growth. The Leader of the Opposition may be saying to the Australian community that somehow he could make a magic difference here, but in fact you need to wrestle in detail with budgets. So the Leader of the Opposition appears to be saying to the Australian community that what he would do instead of the government's strategy is cut to the bone, with all of the implications that would have for Australian families who would see healthcare services slashed, education slashed, family payments slashed, the aged-care pension slashed—and the list goes on. Indeed, today the Leader of the Opposition has been out confirming very loudly that he would not back the government's new investments into schools. That means that the Leader of the Opposition stands for taking half a million dollars, on average, out of every Australian school.

The Leader of the Opposition this morning was wandering around saying that this was a budget that had no hope in it. Well, to the Leader of the Opposition I say: go out of Parliament House and meet the families of people who are caring for people with disabilities, or people with disabilities themselves. Go and meet with them and ask what they think about this budget, delivering as it does on DisabilityCare fully funded for 10 years. Go and walk into a classroom and see what a combination of great teaching and new resources can do for a child's life, and tell them that there is no hope in this budget when this budget fully delivers on our school improvement agenda over 10 years. This is a budget for the Australian people, right for these economic circumstances, and I absolutely reject the Leader of the Opposition's strategy to cut to the bone.