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Wednesday, 15 May 2013
Page: 3265


Mr HOCKEY (North Sydney) (14:13): My question is again to the Treasurer. Now that the Treasurer has had time to get the answer, I again remind the Treasurer that he introduced a debt limit cap of $300 billion. How much, as a result of last night's budget, will that debt peak at over the next four years?

Mr SWAN (LilleyDeputy Prime Minister and Treasurer) (14:13): I am more than happy to read out the figures from the budget papers. Gross debt or net debt—what would you like?

Opposition members: Gross!

Mr SWAN: Gross debt in 2012-13 is $292.8 million; in 2013-14, $321.3 million; in 2014-15, $345 million; and the peak, at 20.2, is $356 million. But the point I was making earlier—

Opposition members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Order! Does the member for North Sydney want to hear the answer or not? The Treasurer has the call.

Mr SWAN: That is the market value, not the face value, on issue. I know he wants to try to confuse this because he wants to be a fiscal fearmonger, ape the tactics of the Tea Party in the United States and run around the place saying that the debt is unsustainable.

Net debt is low at 11.1 per cent of GDP. It is like someone with an income of $100,000 owing less than $12,000. Debt is modest in this country and we have it to support jobs and growth. So, when he is asking these sorts of questions, what he is really saying is that his alternative to these modest levels of debt—supporting jobs and growth in our economy—is to take an axe to jobs, growth, health and education. That is not something this Labor government would ever do but it is something those opposite would do, because it was the path they put forward during the global financial crisis—and if they had had their way this country would have gone into recession.

Mr HOCKEY (North Sydney) (14:15): I ask a supplementary question. Given that the Treasurer has just admitted that, subject to the debt cap, his debt is going to go to $356 billion—

Mr Dreyfus: Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order.

Mr Pyne interjecting

The SPEAKER: Order! The member for Sturt is warned!

Mr Dreyfus: Madam Speaker, it is not in order to ask questions which contain argument and, as yesterday, we have a question that is based on an argument.

Opposition members interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for North Sydney will get the call when his colleagues show him some courtesy. The member for North Sydney has the call. I will ask him to commence the question again but will advise against argument.

Mr HOCKEY: I refer to the Treasurer's answer where he said 'debt will peak at $356 billion'. Treasurer, if the debt cap limit is $300 billion, why don't you have the courage to increase the debt cap limit on your watch?

Mr SWAN (LilleyDeputy Prime Minister and Treasurer) (14:16): What the shadow Treasurer is doing is quoting market value which, admittedly, does appear in the budget papers. But what is issued is face value. I have said to him earlier that we are below the cap. That is what I said to him. He is seeking to go out there and use a market value rather than a face value and the face value is what is issued and what the government owes. So he is deliberately seeking to increase and cause fear about modest debt levels and being dishonest at it.