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Wednesday, 13 November 2013
Page: 214


Mr BOWEN (McMahon) (19:09): I move the amendment circulated in my name:

(1) Schedule 1, item 1, page 3 (line 6), omit "$500", substitute "$400".

This bill just passed the House. The Labor Party supported it. Unlike the Liberal Party in 2009 and 2012, we will support an increase in the debt cap. That is the responsible and measured thing to do. The Prime Minister erroneously claimed that the Liberal Party did not vote against increases in the debt cap. He did it in question time today. He misled the House in his first question time as Prime Minister, an inauspicious start. But the Labor Party takes a more sensible and mature approach. We have approved the increase in the debt limit. But we do have an amendment, which I have moved. The amendment is that we only authorise an increase in the debt cap of $100 billion. That is not a small or a trifling amount of money. It is a significant increase.

Let the member for Moncrieff or the Treasurer say here at the dispatch box that that would not be enough to get them through December. Would it be enough to get them through December? Of course it would—unless the budget has deteriorated more than the Treasurer has let on, or unless he is planning more giveaways, like the ones he has made since he became Treasurer, like the grant to the Reserve Bank of $9 billion. The Treasurer claims that the Reserve Bank asked for that. The Treasurer claims that the Reserve Bank asked for $8.8 billion. I asked him to release the request. He refused. I FOI'd the request. The Treasury refused to release it under FOI. We have moved in the Senate that the Senate demand the release of the document. If that passes the Senate, the Treasurer will be obliged to release the letter. He says that he would love to. If he would love to, he could release it. If he has nothing to hide, he could release the letter from the Governor of the Reserve Bank that says, 'Please give me $8.8 billion this year.' He says that he would like to release it. He could release it, but he has not and he will not, unless he is forced to.

Mr Husic: Along with the incoming Treasurer's brief.

Mr BOWEN: He could release the incoming Treasurer's brief. It was released in 2007. It was released in 2010—and not just the incoming Treasurer's brief, but the incoming government brief. I got an incoming Treasurer's brief not that long ago. But this Treasurer is refusing to release his. That is part of the culture of secrecy of this government.

We have moved an amendment that would give the government a $100 billion increase in the debt cap. That would see it through and allow for the net debt to peak and allow for a buffer. The last figures before the Australian people, which the Treasurer quoted today, were released by me. This Treasurer has refused to release a mid-year economic statement. We saw the Prime Minister again mislead the House today when he said, 'We'll release it in December like you did.'

The SPEAKER: I would remind the member for McMahon that he is getting perilously close to a disorderly statement, and I would ask him to return to the subject matter.

Mr BOWEN: Thank you, Madam Speaker. With respect, the release of the MYEFO is very related to the subject matter before the chair.

The SPEAKER: I was referring to your statement about misleading. That was perilously close.

Mr BOWEN: The Prime Minister said today that the previous government released MYEFOs in December, and that is an incorrect statement. It was not released once in December under the previous government—not once—contrary to what the Prime Minister asserted in the House today. The Treasurer could justify this increase in the debt limit by releasing his mid-year economic forecast, which is in effect a mini budget. It would reflect his decision to give $9 billion to the Reserve Bank. It would reflect his decision to reverse tax changes made by the previous government in relation to tax integrity as part of the G20 agenda, which Australia will soon chair. It will reflect his decision to give a tax break to individuals with more than $2 million in their superannuation accounts—good people who have worked hard but to whom it is not a priority to give a tax break in the view of the Labor Party but apparently it is a priority in the view of those opposite, the government and the Treasurer.

All these things will be reflected in the mid-year economic forecast—the Treasurer's mini-budget. So when the member for Moncrieff, representing the Treasurer—who has not bothered to turn up to sum up this very important bill—says, 'It's Labor's debt', well, the Labor Party fully acknowledges that the debt limit needed to be increased. That was acknowledged in the pre-election economic forecast. (Time expired)