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Tuesday, 28 February 2012
Page: 2153


Mr BRIGGS (Mayo) (16:05): One joy of having children is that you get to read lots of fairytales, but I have not heard a better fairytale than what I have just heard from the member for Melbourne. In all seriousness, the Greens standing up with an economic policy which, to quote Ronald Reagan, is based on, 'If it moves, tax it; if it keeps moving, regulate it; if it stops moving, subsidise it,' is a joke. To be lectured to by the member for Melbourne about two former heads and one current CEO of a bank that the member for Melbourne spends nearly day after day kicking the living suitcase out of is, I think, just a little bit hypocritical now that he is taking their advice.

The member for Melbourne's understanding of the finance sector, if you are to believe him, is that, while Australia is nearly $300 billion in debt, what we should be doing is taxing the best performing industry even more because they will just keep creating jobs and investing even though they are now being taxed even more than they were before, and we should invest all those proceeds in this sort of magical money pudding which is the Greens' economic policy. We should put that into a separate account for some future need. He then tries to quote the member for Wentworth as his source for the reason he supports this. I acknowledge that the member for Wentworth supports this concept, but you will find also that the member for Wentworth supports paying off the debt. That is not something you would do, Member for Melbourne, because you would have a multibillion-dollar dental scheme in place before that—a scheme, I might add, that the former Labor finance minister Peter Walsh, who I know the member for Fraser has much respect for, said would be the quickest way to bankrupt the Commonwealth. That is what Peter Walsh, the former Labor finance minister, said: the quickest way to bankrupt the Commonwealth.

So you have this sort of magical money pudding idea that the member for Melbourne wants to push around. He asks for suggestions for amendments that might help support it. Well, here is a suggestion: get rid of Bob Brown's bank. Get rid of the $10 billion you are going to spend and waste on projects that the Greens think are worthwhile, with all your economic expertise. Get rid of that. There is a start. There is $10 billion less that the future generations of this country, including my children, will have to pay off and that you are recklessly encouraging your coalition partners to engage in.

The member for Fraser knows all this is true. He knows you cannot set up a sovereign wealth fund which changes the dollar. The member for Melbourne did not even begin to explain how much would be required on the international money markets to change the value of the dollar. I wonder if the member for Melbourne has any idea at all about how much would be required to be in this fund. A hundred billion? Two hundred billion? Half a trillion? A trillion? How much Australian taxpayers' money would it be, member for Melbourne, that the Australian government—the five people sitting around a boardroom table—would have to sit there and invest overseas to play with the dollar value? How much would it be? How much Australian taxpayers' money are you willing for a group of people to spend overseas to play with the dollar's value? I would be really interested in the answer. I suspect the member for Melbourne has not got a clue.

The Greens on economic policy make the Labor Party look relevant. For goodness sake! We are nearly $300 billion in debt and he is talking about establishing a magic pudding sovereign wealth fund on the basis that the mining industry is going to continue to contribute these additional taxes, which of course will not damage investment at all! They will not stop people investing! No, you just continue to ramp up the tax. The next line will be 'because Australians own those assets'. That will be the next line we hear from the Greens. Of course, that is not true either. The mining companies invest their capital to make the most out of those assets. They are the people who employ. They are the people who take the chances. The taxpayer does not. By the way, those taxes that those mining companies pay and those jobs that they create go towards the Commonwealth so that they can provide services like health, education and the services that the Australian people demand. This motion should be laughed at. If it were coming from someone who had seriously thought about a sovereign wealth fund and wanted to engage in a debate about the merits of a sovereign wealth fund, it would be worthwhile having this discussion, but when it comes from the Greens, when it comes from a pretend communist, it is not worth the time to have this discussion. There are merits in having funds established. The Future Fund is one where you have a specific purpose. Peter Costello saw that purpose as ensuring that in the future we are able to meet our obligations. To sit here for five minutes and listen to the member for Melbourne, the former communist, tell us about financial policy is a joke.