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Wednesday, 13 November 2013
Page: 151

Economy


Mr BOWEN (McMahon) (14:34): My question is to the Treasurer. Will Australia's government debt be higher or lower at the end of this term of government than it was on 7 September this year?


Mr HOCKEY (North SydneyThe Treasurer) (14:34): I appreciate the question from the member from McMahon. I refer him to the latest published Economic Statement, which was published by—Oh! 'Chris Bowen' is on the front. On page 46 it says that the end-of-year amount this year will be $290 billion; next year, $330 billion; the year after, $350 billion; and the year after that, $370 billion. But Labor wants us to stop at $400 billion. Let me understand this. The Labor Party wants to reduce the debt that they only ever increased when they were in government. The Labor Party now says: 'Look, 400 billion is enough; let's draw a line at 400. You should be under 400 and you need to explain'—'you' being us, the government—'to the Australian people why 400'—a number based on Labor's own economic figures—'is not enough.' Let me explain something.

Mr Bowen: I raise a point of order on relevance, Madam Speaker. It was a very simple question: higher or lower.

The SPEAKER: There is no point of order.

Mr HOCKEY: Labor says, 'Let's draw a line at $400 billion.' The first thing is that their own document, released only a few weeks ago, said $370 billion. But there is one person I never want to forget when it comes to debt and that is the member for Lilley. We laugh at the member for Lilley. He never let us down. In this place—and I remember this; I have a good memory for these things—in the last debt limit debate, he said, 'Listen, I've been advised by the Australian Office of Financial Management that you need to have a buffer.' He even underlined it. It is in colour. He underlined it and then he tabled it. The statement about the buffer says:

… where for policy reasons a debt cap is considered desirable, it would be prudent … to set it at a level $40 billion to $60 billion higher than the peak …

So I will just explain to the member for McMahon—I know he is not very good with numbers—that $370 billion of Labor debt plus $60 billion does not equal $400 billion. It actually equals far more than $400 billion, and I have not even got to the fact, yet, that every step of the way we are going to reduce Labor's debt. We want to reduce it by getting rid of the mining tax. That is $13 billion of Labor debt that is going. Then we want to get rid of the CEFC. That is another $8 billion of Labor debt we want to get rid of, and they are trying to stop us. The bottom line is that the tenants trashed the joint. Now we are trying to fix it and the biggest impediment is the Labor Party. They are addicted to debt and deficit.