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Wednesday, 13 November 2013
Page: 222


Mr VAN MANEN (Forde) (19:45): Mr Deputy Speaker, congratulations on re-election to your high office. It is always interesting to follow my colleague the member for Chifley, and I always appreciate the comments along the way from the member for Moreton. We stand here again to reflect on the financial mismanagement of the former Labor government over the last six years. It is a situation that reminds me of a party. The Labor Party has had a party for the last six years and has woken up with a hangover the next morning—beer bottles all over the lawn, a few bottles of wine off to the side—and said, 'Party; what party?' The Australian people are paying the price as a result.

It is well within the sensible economic management of the future of this country to look at increasing the debt limit once and doing it properly. That is unlike what we have seen from those opposite over the past six years, where they started off at $75 billion, went to $200 billion and said, 'We've had another deficit. We wonder what's going on. We can't manage our finances. Let's increase it to $250 billion,' and then said, 'Let's increase it to $300 billion to give us a bit of a buffer.' They used up that buffer and now, when we say that debt is going to peak at about $370 billion, so we want an extra $40 billion or $60 billion as a buffer, based on the advice of the Australian Office of Financial Management, they do not want to entertain that idea. Yet that is exactly the argument they have used previously. The Greens have not helped the situation over the past few years, aiding and abetting the former government in their spendathon.

As we have constantly seen, it is about controlling your expenditure and, in the process of reviewing what we committed to in this election—to cut the waste and get the budget back in order—that is the very thing we need to do. That debt limit increase gives the flexibility to adjust, to get budget expenditure back under control, but at the same time to reflect varying economic circumstances so that we do not make cuts at times when it is going to hurt our economy. We have to have flexibility within our fiscal arrangements to accommodate any shocks in the global economy. It is prudent to do that up-front and to be honest with the Australian people about why we are going to do it—

Mr Perrett: Six months ago you said, 'Come and state your case every time you want to increase it.'

Mr VAN MANEN: Well, we do it once and we do it properly, unlike you guys, with constant budget deficits—always more than you originally anticipated because you were not able to control spending. Even the member for Lilley, earlier this year on national radio, said that he knew the debt limit would have to be increased but that that would be somebody else's problem. What is the benefit of passing the problem off down the track to the never-never and hoping that somebody else will fix it? That is exactly the problem that we have; it is the reason we are in this situation.

Over the past six years we have witnessed the greatest deterioration in our nation's financial situation. We have seen a government that, despite over 30 tax increases, still racked up record budget deficits and almost $300 billion in debt. We have seen this example in Queensland as well, where the former Labor government stripped government entities of dividends over and above what was prudent. We have seen the situation arise with the Reserve Bank, where dividends have been stripped out, leaving the reserves for the bank below what they should be. Again through prudent economic management, we restored the reserves of the Reserve Bank. We make no apologies for that, because we want to set this economy up for future generations in this country—something the former Labor government never thought about. They just thought about the here and now.

This is about the future of this country. It is only a coalition government that is going to get our finances in order. That is what this bill is about—working to get our finances in order in a sensible, measured, methodical way for the future benefit of this great country.