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Tuesday, 2 September 2014
Page: 9429

Dr HENDY (Eden-Monaro) (16:49): A question for the Leader of the Opposition: where is the money coming from, Mr Shorten? I begin by reminding the House of the enormous damaging budgetary legacy that the ALP left this government to clean up. We have been talking a lot about it since May this year when the budget was released but it does not seem to have sunk into the heads of the people opposite. Australia cannot go on borrowing a billion dollars every single month just to pay the interest on Labor borrowings. This is wasted money that could otherwise be building roads, schools or hospitals or paying for tax cuts for long-suffering taxpayers. Under Labor, Australia ran six straight years of record budget deficits. Labor left the coalition a further $123 billion in projected deficits and gross debt is forecast to hit $667 billion—that is, $25,000 for every man, woman and child in Australia or $25,000 for every person in my electorate of Eden-Monaro.

This year's budget papers show that even with the government's efforts to repair the budget there will be four more deficits over the next four years. That would make 10 deficits in a row and would be unprecedented in our post war history. We did not create Labor's mess but said we will fix it and that is exactly what we are doing. In fact, the amazing hypocrisy is that one of the architects of that debt and deficit disaster, the member for McMahon, the former Treasurer, has sought to debate this issue today although he is not here. That shows what he really thinks about the issue. In fact, there are only three members of the ALP in the chamber at the moment and one is just about to leave. So as the member for McPherson said, that just gives you an indication of how seriously they really regard this issue.

Despite what our opponents state, the government is honouring its election commitments to aged pensioners and self funded retirees to make no changes to the age pension in this term of government and to index the income thresholds to the consumer price index for the Commonwealth seniors health card for self funded retirees. In fact, aged pensioners will benefit because the government is scrapping the carbon tax. That will reduce price pressures. Aged pensioners will also continue to receive the compensation payment after the carbon tax is scrapped. So that is an extra boost.

What the opposition wants to ignore in their pursuit of scare campaigns is that Australia faces a major demographic shift as the baby boomer generation enters retirement. We will have more retirees than ever before and they will be living longer. That is an unavoidable fact and a proven government has only one course of action: that is, to deal with the issues head-on. The demographic challenge will have major implications for the aged pension system. If we wish to have a sustainable aged pension system that looks after those who need it most now and into the future, we must reform it.

When I go around my electorate of Eden-Monaro, seniors in my seat understand that there is a monumental task that needs to be addressed. Australia needs a well-targeted, means-tested income support system which provides financial assistance to those most in need while encouraging self-provision whenever possible. One part of our policy is to deal with the aged pension age. The previous government enacted legislation to increase the aged pension to 67 years by July 2023. They do not like us reminding the Australian people about the fact that they did that. New legislation from this government will continue the process they set up to increase the aged pension age until it reaches— (Time expired)

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Vasta ): Order! I thank the member for Eden-Monaro but the time allotted for this discussion has expired.