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Wednesday, 9 May 2012
Page: 4309


Mr TURNBULL (Wentworth) (14:14): My question is to the Treasurer. Will the Treasurer confirm that if he was not shuffling at least $7½ billion dollars of spending out of 2012-13 and into the previous and later years, and if the spending on the $50 billion NBN was counted towards the budget bottom line, then the budget would show an actual deficit of at least $12 billion?

Mr SWAN (LilleyDeputy Prime Minister and Treasurer) (14:15): This is the line that is being peddled by those opposite, who have a $70 billion hole, or crater, in their budget bottom line. Somehow they want to walk around and pretend that we have not done the hard yakka to bring our budget back to surplus, so they have come up with the great con, which is to claim that, if we had included all of the NBN accounting that they say we should, we would be in deficit. The truth is this: that we are operating under a Charter of Budget Honesty developed by those on that side. We are working within accounting standards that were followed by the previous government and we have accounted for the NBN in precisely the same way as bodies like Australia Post and EFIC have been accounted for forever and a day, and were accounted for by the previous government in that way. I reject the slur that comes with that question that somehow we would not have a surplus if the NBN was accounted for differently. We have accounted for the NBN in the same way as these bodies have been accounted for by previous governments according to the accounting standards and according to the Charter of Budget Honesty.

The second slur that they are throwing around is somehow that the moneys have been moved around. The fact is we have in this budget $33 billion worth of savings, and they find that very, very hard to cope with given they have a $70 billion hole in their budget bottom line. They cannot even find $70 billion. We have found $33 billion worth of savings in this budget and that is why we are coming back to surplus, and if you have a look at the figures you will see that we have payments at record lows—well below anything that we have seen for a four-year period since the early 1980s. What that shows is considerable expenditure restraint right across the forward estimates, so let us just dispatch with this slur because those on the other side of the parliament cannot make their budget numbers add up. What we know is that the auditors they hired to look at their books at the last election have been found guilty of misconduct. No wonder there was an $11 billion black hole in their estimates at the last election campaign. So they come to this with very dirty hands and they have no credibility when it comes to budget accounting.