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Tuesday, 4 June 2013
Page: 5238


Mr BRADBURY (LindsayAssistant Treasurer and Minister Assisting for Deregulation) (18:21): I thank the member for her questions. I think the second one was on behalf of the member for Mackellar. I thank her as well for her contribution.

I welcome the opportunity to talk about debt, not because I think that it is in any way a problem that we face but, if you look right across the advanced economies, our net debt levels are amongst the lowest. It is a point of comparison that is very rarely made by those opposite. Indeed, it is a worthy point of comparison because it makes the point that there is always context. The context here is that we have been through a Global Financial Crisis, a global recession and we are very proud of the fact that here in Australia we avoided sinking into the depths of recession that so many countries ended up encountering.

I know that people often look at what we as participants in the political debate have to say. They will sometimes be cynical—as the member for Higgins is so cynical with so many of her statements. We are combatants in the political debate. Have a look at what some outsiders have had to say about questions of debt. I always think the best place to start is with what the ratings agencies happen to say. The rating agencies have given this government a very big tick, a very big stamp of approval. We have a AAA credit rating with all three major credit ratings agencies across the globe. That is a point that is of some significance. The member for Higgins, I acknowledge, was a contributor on the staff of the former Treasurer and I know he would like to assert he was the world's greatest Treasurer ever—even though he never received that award. One reason why he did not receive the award notwithstanding the valiant efforts of his staff to make him a better contributor was because he never ever achieved the AAA credit rating with all three global ratings agencies.

Ms O'Dwyer interjecting

Mr BRADBURY: He failed to do it.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! Member for Higgins.

Mr Lyons interjecting

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! Member for Bass.

Mr BRADBURY: I could understand the member for Higgins' disappointment and that of her former employer. At least now he gets the opportunity to write in News Limited papers and to contribute to the public debate with all of the benefit of hindsight.

I do make the additional point: do not just listen to the ratings agencies. Those opposite talk very much about the mantle of economic responsibility that has been handed down to them from the former Prime Minister John Howard. Indeed I think the current Leader of the Opposition once described himself as the love child of the member for Mackellar and the former Prime Minister John Howard.

Mrs Bronwyn Bishop: I promise you it was an immaculate conception.

Ms O'Dwyer: On a point of order, Deputy Speaker. We have strayed very far from the topic under discussion.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms Hall ): Is your point relevance?

Ms O'Dwyer: It is relevance.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Please, Minister, if you could answer the questions.

Mr BRADBURY: My head is still spinning from the suggestion by the member for Mackellar that it was an immaculate conception. I think it is regrettable that that is now recorded on the Hansard. Be that as it may, the former member for Bennelong and the former Prime Minister John Howard may not have issued a press release—and I can understand why he would not want to issue a press release that would effectively contradict everything that his colleagues have been saying in this parliament for the last few years—but, in a speech that he gave to what he probably thought was a private audience though someone happened to record the speech, he said that our debt levels are at very low levels. He spoke the truth. Whilst John Howard is prepared to speak the truth, those opposite are prepared to wade and wallow around in mistruths and misinformation and attempts to muddy the very strong economic reputation of this government—a triple A credit rating from all three major ratings agencies, strong growth that is 13 per cent larger than the GFC and almost a million jobs created under our watch. That is our record and we are proud of it.