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Wednesday, 12 February 2014
Page: 218

Economy


Mr GOODENOUGH (Moore) (14:22): My question is to the Treasurer. Will the Treasurer outline the debt and deficit situation inherited by the government? What are the challenges to this parliament in addressing the debt and deficit position?

Opposition members interjecting

The SPEAKER: I remind those on my left that we will have silence.



Mr HOCKEY (North SydneyThe Treasurer) (14:22): I thank the member for Moore for the question. I recognise that he knows, as I know and now the Australian people know, that Labor left behind deficits of $123 billion. On the estimation of the Treasury, the budget would never have got to surplus under Labor. The only way to repay debt is by having a surplus. The Labor Party's legacy is $667 billion of government debt, unless we can get the budget back to surplus.

We have not mucked around in trying to address this. One of the first things we did was to introduce legislation to repeal the mining tax and all its associated expenditure. The Labor Party's great benchmark legacy of incompetence was the multitude of designs associated with the variations on the mining tax. How incompetent could you be in designing a tax that raised on average $20 per person over the last three years but has $700 per person of expenditure over the next four years associated with that revenue? Only Labor could introduce a new tax that leaves the budget worse off. That is the peak of incompetence, and they met it last term. They all have to accept responsibility.

What did we do? We came into this parliament, said we were getting rid of the tax and we have to get rid of the expenditure associated with it. We have to take the hard yards, and that starts on our turf. We made those decisions. We went to the electorate and said, 'We're sorry, Australia, we had to get rid of the schoolkids bonus.' We said that not because there is any ideological satisfaction in it, but because we knew that it was unfair to burden our children with the debt of handouts to parents today. Every dollar that goes out is borrowed from our children. The bottom line is: Labor does not care about that, but we do. We care about intergenerational debt.

The Labor Party are now opposing $20 billion of savings that are sitting in the Senate. It gets worse every day, because the longer those savings are delayed, the less opportunity there is to repair the budget now. Labor do not care about the future. They do not care about the future at all, and that is why they do not care about deficit and debt. That says everything about the Labor Party.

Economy


Mr SHORTEN (MaribyrnongLeader of the Opposition) (14:25): My question is to the Prime Minister. Between September and December last year, 54,000 full-time jobs were lost. That is a rate of about one job for every three minutes that the Abbott government has been in power. When will this job-losing government take responsibility for job losses and stop blaming the people who lose their jobs?


Mr ABBOTT (WarringahPrime Minister) (14:26): None of us like to see jobs lost. We all deeply regret the fact that sometimes jobs are lost. I do not wish to say this in a party political sense but it is hard to avoid it, given the suggestion we have just had from the Leader of the Opposition that somehow every unfortunate thing that has happened in the first five months of the coalition government's life is the coalition's fault.

Was it the coalition that put the carbon tax on energy intensive industries? Was it the coalition that put the mining tax on the resources sector? Was it the coalition that wrapped up so many of our industries in environmental green tape? Was it the coalition that abolished the Australian Building and Construction Commission? Was it the coalition that was responsible for the loss of at least 33,000 jobs in 2012—not just according to ABS statistics; these were the job loss announcements made by businesses when the Leader of the Opposition was the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations. Really and truly, the hypocrisy of members opposite is astounding.

I say again to the Leader of the Opposition: all of us in this place, including the Leader of the Opposition, want to create jobs. Let me pose the question again to members opposite: is it easier to create jobs with a carbon tax or without one? Is it easier to create jobs with a mining tax or without one? Is it easier to create jobs without an Australian building and construction commission or with one? I am absolutely confident that the workers of this country know who are their best friends in this parliament.