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Tuesday, 22 May 2012
Page: 5002


Mr HOCKEY (North Sydney) (14:29): My question is to the Acting Prime Minister and Treasurer. Will the Treasurer confirm that the government expects to pay $29 billion in interest alone on the government's borrowings over the next four years? Can the Treasurer advise the House how much of the $29 billion in interest is just interest on interest on existing Labor government debt?

Mr SWAN (LilleyDeputy Prime Minister and Treasurer) (14:30): I thank the shadow Treasurer for that question because it is a very important question. It is true that the government has a modest borrowing program. Those opposite have decided to go around the country and run a scare campaign about that as well.

The truth of the matter is we do have a modest borrowing program and net debt is 9.6 per cent of GDP in 2011-12. Let us get things into perspective because that is about one-tenth of debt elsewhere across other major developed economies, so very modest. This is why the major rating agencies have given us our AAA gold plated rating. Our credit worthiness is very high. It is the highest rating they can give. This country, led by this government, has been given that by the rating agencies for the first time in our history. It certainly was not given to this country when those opposite were in government. Net debt at about 9.6 per cent of GDP is like someone earning $100,000 a year and owing a modest $9,600 a year. Net interest payments in 2012-13 will be 0.5 per cent of GDP and that is like someone earning $100,000 a year and paying only $500 in interest. This just puts our debt into perspective. What we have here is an irresponsible scare campaign—

Mr Hockey: Madam Deputy Speaker, I rise on a point of order of relevance. It was a simple question. How much interest on interest is going to be paid over the next four years? It was a factual question.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The member for North Sydney will resume his seat. The Treasurer and Acting Prime Minister is answering the question and has the call.

Mr SWAN: I certainly am answering the question. If he wants to go into the ins and outs of every figure, he can read it in the budget papers.