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Wednesday, 15 May 2013
Page: 3269


Mr HOCKEY (North Sydney) (14:26): My question is to the Treasurer. In his National Press Club speech the Treasurer claimed that there is a fiscal consolidation in the budget of $23 billion. Given that, as a percentage of the economy, at no time has this government had spending as low as the last year of the coalition government and given that, over the next four years, the government is expecting to spend $76 billion more and collect $103 billion more in revenue, where does this claim for smaller government come from?

Mr SWAN (LilleyDeputy Prime Minister and Treasurer) (14:27): I do thank the shadow Treasurer for his question. We should first of all start with revenue and then go on to expenditure, because those opposite claim there has been no revenue write-down. They would be receiving, if they were in government, the same advice that we are receiving, which is that for 2012-13 we have had a revenue write-down of $17 billion and larger ones over the next two years. They would receive that advice from the Treasury, but they claim that that has not happened. It is just like the global financial crisis: it never happened. And now the revenue write-downs have not happened.

Then, to go on with their fiction, they run around the place with a whole lot of figures that exaggerate spending. One of their criticisms is that we now spend $100 billion more in our budget than was spent when we came to government—ignoring the fact that the economy is 13 per cent bigger. The fact is that economies grow, but when it comes to our spending levels our spending levels as a proportion of GDP are about on an average with where they were when you were in government. But you insist, like you do with debt, on the spending side of the budget to go around and make all these extreme exaggerations. The reason you are doing it is that you are not going to put your policies out before the election. You want to be able to run around and claim: 'Oh, there's a spending problem. There's no revenue problem,' and try to get through an election campaign like Campbell Newman. If you get elected then you will slash and burn. That is what all of this is about.

The SPEAKER: The Treasurer cannot use the word 'you'.

Mr Pyne: Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. You are not responsible for any of the things the Treasurer is talking about, and I ask him to at least try to maintain some decorum in the chamber after all his years of experience in this place.

The SPEAKER: The Manager of Opposition Business will resume his seat. I think everybody can take some lessons about decorum in the chamber. I do remind the Treasurer of the use of the word 'you'. The Treasurer has the call.

Mr SWAN: If you look at the facts—if we get them out there on the table—what they will show is that our expenditure levels are broadly, as a percentage of GDP, where they were when that mob over there were in government. So much for the spending problem. These are figures which are easily available. They are there, but they choose once again to exaggerate what is going on. We over the forward estimates have got spending growth of, on average, 1.1 per cent.

Mr Pyne: Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. We know the Treasurer is under a great deal of stress, but he has completely ignored your admonition from the chair. I ask you to draw him back to the standing orders.

The SPEAKER: The Manager of Opposition Business will resume his seat. The Treasurer has the call, and I do advise everybody. I know it is an arcane principle, but you are all speaking through the chair. The use of the word 'you' is inappropriate.

Mr SWAN: I will just conclude with this one fact: the tax to GDP ratio this year is 21.5 per cent. When we were elected, the level we inherited from those opposite was 23.7 per cent. If we had that tax to GDP ratio that we inherited from them, that they had when they were last in government, we would be running a surplus of $6 billion and we would have increased revenue of $24 billion this year. That proves the fact there is a big revenue challenge. That is why we have taken the decisions we had to take: absolutely necessary to support jobs and growth. And God help us what would have happened if they were in government in these circumstances, because they would have slashed and burned, austerity for austerity's sake. They subscribe to the theory that you can cut your way to growth. Well, you cannot. That is what has happened in Europe, it proves that is wrong, but they have been captured by the mad Tea Party elements of the Liberal Party and the IPA.