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Wednesday, 13 November 2013
Page: 221


Mr HUSIC (Chifley) (19:40): Mr Deputy Speaker, who are these people? Who are these people who, before the election, were talking about budget emergencies and railing against debt, and then come in here saying something different? It is like they have been to one of these RSL hypnosis shows and they have been told, 'When you hear the clap, you will no longer be vandals and you will no longer rail against debt and deficit, and you will say, "We need to increase the debt limit."' This is magic! It is amazing to see. The problem for the coalition is that they are all of a sudden doing something that the rest of the public would never expect them to do. The public would never expect them to suddenly become the friends of debt, lifting up the debt limit to $500 billion. You would never believe it, but the Treasurer has been talking about the need, possibly, for stimulus. After telling us we should not be having it, he has been saying, 'We need stimulus.' And he has been talking about the need to invest in infrastructure. The coalition is suddenly talking about all these things. Their problem is that the message now does not match with what they said before.

There is a way to fix it though—that is, give us the facts. How could those facts be presented? Here is a suggestion: why not release the incoming Treasurer's brief? We had PEFO; it outlined the state of the books. Now you have the incoming Treasurer's brief. And what happened? Apparently, Treasury will not release the detail because they think the working relationship is more important than the relationship with the Australian public. Apparently, their emotional intelligence is more important than giving us the actual economic data that can help, potentially, paint a clearer picture of where things stand. They will not do it. The Treasurer comes in today, like he did in question time, talking about everyone else's stats. He quotes every source other than—I don't know—Treasury! He does not actually quote Treasury to the Australian people, as to what the state of the books are.

We are prepared—as the shadow Treasurer has indicated through his amendment—to allow $400 billion right now. We will allow $400 billion to accommodate what was already anticipated in the Pre-election Economic Forecast. We said we would do that. And if you want to go above it, come back and tell us why. And the way to do it—

Mr Hawke: Next week!

Mr HUSIC: Next week—the member for Mitchell seems to know something that the rest of the public does not know, as to how quickly the government is looking to rack up debt. So you guys know, but you won't release the figures. Here is the other thing: we have said that if you come back and put the case, we will allow it to go further. The best way to do it is to release MYEFO. But they will not do it, because they are gutless. They will not allow the public to scrutinise it. They have this whole control approach in other portfolios. Scott Morrison, the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, is hiding the boats and he has hidden himself. You can't even see him in the chamber anymore because he is in hiding behind the Speaker over there. And now they want to hide the state of the books until Christmas. Effectively, when Santa is getting soot on his suit, that is when they will release MYEFO—when no-one can really analyse it and look at it. So why won't they do it? They are saying they want to lift the debt limit to $500 billion—with no data, with no figures, with no substantiation. Why do they want to do it?

They have also suddenly realised that revenue is soft. Well, we have been saying that for ages. When we were in government, we had been saying for ages that the world economic outlook, as soft as it is, is going to impact on us. Exchange rates are going to have an impact on us as well. And they said—about all these things—'No, this is an expenditure issue, and you have got to get your house in order.' But they are not announcing anything at all that they plan to do to address expenditure. What have they done? They have set up a commission of audit. By the way, I love this commission of audit. They have put Amanda Vanstone on it—how much money did she spend on her renovations in Italy?—but they would not even put Peter Costello on; their own Treasurer! They were too embarrassed to put him on their commission of audit. They are going ahead with this commission of audit, but when will it report? Down the track sometime they will put forward their expenditure cuts, but they will not put them in now. This is the problem. As I said, they need to come up with the data and the facts, and explain precisely why they reckon debt is going to go the way it is going to go, and take the public with them.