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Tuesday, 30 October 2012
Page: 12544


Mr HOCKEY (North Sydney) (14:42): My question is to the Treasurer. I refer the Treasurer to his previous statement that the government would return the budget to surplus in 2012-13 and I quote: 'Come hell or highwater.' Does the Treasurer stand by that statement?

Mr Randall interjecting

The SPEAKER: Order! The member for Canning will leave the chamber under standing order 94(a). The member for Canning knows, as everybody else does, that interjections although witty are not allowed. The Treasurer has the call.

The member for Canning then left the chamber.

Mr SWAN (LilleyDeputy Prime Minister and Treasurer) (14:43): Thank you, Madam Speaker. We brought down a midyear budget update last Monday week and in that budget update we made savings of over $16 billion. We did that because we are bringing our budget back to surplus, and we stand absolutely by all of the forecasts that were contained in the midyear budget update delivered last Monday week.

Mr Hockey interjecting

The SPEAKER: Order! The member for North Sydney.

Mr SWAN: We could not be clearer than that. It is galling to have a question about surplus from the shadow Treasurer who went on breakfast television, sitting beside the minister for the environment, and admitted to having a $70 billion crater in his budget bottom line. It is completely galling to receive a question from the shadow Treasurer who will not commit to the savings that we announced in the midyear budget update.

The SPEAKER: The Treasurer will resume his seat. The member for North Sydney on a point of order.

Mr Hockey: The point of order goes to relevance, Madam Speaker. The Treasurer was asked whether he stands by his words: he will deliver a surplus this year come hell or highwater. Yes or no?

The SPEAKER: The member for North Sydney will resume his seat. The Treasurer has the call and will be relevant to the question.

Mr SWAN: I was being very relevant, Madam Speaker. I stand by the midyear budget update. It is important to come back to surplus to give the Reserve Bank maximum flexibility when it comes to cutting interest rates, should they decide to do so. But what is being posed here is some form of hypothetical scenario—a what if. What if something happens in the global economy? I will say this: we have a proven track record of responding to volatility in the global economy. When our country was threatened, we saved it. And who voted against that? Everybody over there. Those opposite voted against the stimulus that saved our country. They voted against it.

Opposition members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Order! The Treasury has the call. Such behaviour is unbecoming of the parliament.

Mr SWAN: We will always do the right thing by growth and jobs in our economy, unlike those opposite, who back in 2008 and 2009 voted against the stimulus package that saved jobs and kept small business in business. We have brought down a midyear budget update that brings the budget back to surplus in 2012-13 because we understand how important it is at a time of global uncertainty to bring the budget back to surplus when the economy is growing around trend.

What we have heard from the shadow Treasurer has been a conga line of clangers. He went out today and said that there was nothing in the midyear update about the Murray-Darling. Wrong. He went out and got the growth rate wrong—again. A conga line of clangers. He said last week that the economy was flat lining. A conga line of clangers. What we have is an appropriate fiscal policy to support jobs and growth.