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Wednesday, 15 May 2013
Page: 3298


Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (16:01): This matter of public importance on the budget, on the day after the budget, now follows a new pattern in the House of Representatives. We have a Treasurer who will not front for the MPI. We have a Treasurer who will not front to the parliament and will not front to defend his budget. This is a curious thing. As I was watching the Assistant Treasurer front for the Treasurer, who does not deign to come to this place to talk about a matter of public importance, I wondered: is it because he thinks his budget is of no public importance? Is it that he just does not want to talk about his budget to the parliament? This Treasurer, year after year, refuses to debate his budget as a matter of public importance the day after the budget.

The interesting thing is that—as someone reminded me—when he was the shadow Treasurer he did not want to move the MPI either. One year, famously, on the day after Peter Costello's budget there was no MPI on the budget. You do not need to take my word for it because, thanks to the former Chief Government Whip—the member for Hunter, Mr Fitzgibbon—we know about this. He told his then friend Mark Latham, who wrote about it. He wrote about how, in 2005, Wayne Swan as shadow Treasurer refused to move the matter of public importance the day after the budget because he was—too nervous, or too busy? It became a big talking point, and now he is the Treasurer he will not come in for the MPI.

Here we are debating his budget. It is a budget that strings together one aspect of consistency, I have to say, and that is that every year, with this Treasurer, the question is: how much will he miss by? My friend the member for Wannon has heard me recite how much he has missed by on every deficit projection. I will not labour the point. The only thing you can say with this budget is that people are already looking back and seeing how much he missed by, and looking ahead and asking the question: how much will he miss by again? What is that mathematical calculation you should factor in—the Swan factor—to adjust immediately every figure he puts out and everything he says. As the shadow Treasurer said, in rough terms it is about $20 billion on the budget. That is basically the miss. In the year gone, as we all know, the deficit was $44 billion. A year before he said it would be $22 billion. This year we were told on 360 or more occasions that there would be a small surplus and, of course, there is about a $20 billion deficit.

As the shadow Treasurer pointed out, this government does not have a revenue problem. Its problem has been that it has overforecast. That is his problem. As the shadow Treasurer and the member for Goldstein pointed out, revenue is going up this year. It is going up six per cent, it is projected to rise seven per cent in the following year and nearly seven per cent in the year after. It is worth actually looking back at their overoptimistic projections. Before I forget, just today the member for Hunter said, 'It has always been my approach to underpromise and overdeliver,' in reference to the Treasurer, who does precisely the opposite.

But let us nail this absolute falsehood from this government that they have had a reduction in revenue. They have had an increase in revenue. The problem is that their overoptimistic forecast was not that they waited to see, but that they spent all the money. If you look back at last year's budget—and it is a good table to look at because it gives a very factual account, and the Prime Minister says that she likes to talk about facts—at what they promised and what happened, if you were to believe the government you would be looking for this decline in revenue.

In the 2012-13 budget the 2011-12 estimated outcome was about $330 billion for receipts, and for the 2012-13 year the Treasurer thought that the increase in revenue would be about $36 billion—which would go up to about $368 billion. It did not stay at $330 billion. It has not declined from $330 million. It went to about $350 billion. It increased by quite a bit. As the member for Goldstein said, this government does not have a revenue problem; it has got a spending problem, and if you look at what they said they would spend and what they actually spent, the figures tell the story. They have spent more than they said they would, and I will not bore the House with every single figure.

The problem with the Treasurer is that he is about to do it all again. His exhibit A is his mining tax, the mining tax that in the first six months collected about $120 million when it was going to bring in billions. We found out last night that it will raise $200 million. As my friend and colleague in the other place the shadow Assistant Treasurer pointed out, that is an incredible 95 per cent below the Treasurer's original $4 billion revenue forecast that he issued before the last election.

Having missed it by that much—and as I have said before, you can only imagine the word pictures that this Treasurer presents on missing targets—what this budget says is that in about four years time, it will bring in about $2.2 billion. That is the year he says we will return to surplus. This Treasurer's past is his future and it is this government's pattern. All the time it leads to deficit upon deficit, a promised surplus that is a broken promise, replaced with a promise of being achieved in a few years time. As long as this Treasurer is in office, it will always be in four years time until he takes all the steps to ensure that it is pushed out and out and out. The upshot is more deficits and more taxes to try to fill the hole he has created and of course much, much more debt.

Net debt was not zero. It was $45 billion in the bank when this Treasurer began. We are now seeing in the budget papers the $147 billion peak that we used to talk about becoming the peak net debt in 2015-16 being close to $191 billion. Add $45 billion to that and he is on his way to a quarter of a million turnaround. This is a failed budget with a Treasurer that will not even front.