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Thursday, 14 February 2013
Page: 1527

Mr BRADBURY (LindsayAssistant Treasurer and Minister Assisting for Deregulation) (11:16): I would like to thank all those members who have contributed to the debate on the Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 2012-2013 and Appropriation Bill (No. 4) 2012-2013. The additional estimates appropriation bills seek authority from parliament for the additional expenditure of money from the Consolidated Revenue Fund to meet requirements that have arisen since the last budget. The total additional appropriation being sought through these bills this year is just over $1.27 billion.

I would like to highlight certain appropriations relating to the delivery of the government's commitments. Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 2012-2013 proposes $133 million to the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations including $85 million towards the support for the childcare system program. The government also proposes $48 million to support increased claims received before 5 December 2012 for assistance under the General Employee Entitlements and Redundancy Scheme and $59 million is proposed for the Attorney-General's Department including $47 million in relation to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse; for associated operating costs, financial and legal assistance and the Commonwealth's appearance at the royal commission. An amount of $56 million is proposed for the Department of Health and Ageing including $26 million to support Tasmania's health system which will address challenges caused by Tasmania's ageing population, high rates of chronic disease and constraints in the state health system, as well as to equip it to meet the future challenges. An amount of $19 million is proposed for the Australian Taxation Office in relation to targeted tax compliance activities and the transfer of lost superannuation member accounts to the Australian Taxation Office.

Turning now to Appropriation Bill (No. 4) 2012-2013, the government proposes $469 million for the Department of Defence as an equity injection to align the department's appropriations with its work program including operations. The additional amount will be offset mainly through a reduction in Defence's departmental appropriation through a separate process. An amount of $50 million is proposed for the Attorney-General's Department including $27 million for capital expenditure in relation to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, and $45 million is proposed for the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation to complete detailed engineering designs to construct a nuclear medicine manufacturing facility and a treatment plant that will produce a radiopharmaceutical material used in the treatment and diagnosis of heart diseases and cancers. An amount of $32 million is proposed for the Department of Immigration and Citizenship in capital funding for expansions to the immigration detention network.

It is fitting, in a bill that deals with government appropriations, that we have heard contributions from those opposite—such as the member for Bennelong—that really do emphasise one of the fundamental differences between where the government and the opposition stand on the question of setting out plans for Australia's future that have some credible fiscal underpinning. We heard the member for Bennelong, who is from the party that has acknowledged that they have a $70 billion black hole, endorse a range of policy thought-bubbles that we have seen leaked to the Daily Telegraph over the last week. Cumulatively, these would more than double that $70 billion black hole.

The Australian people do want vision but they want a vision that is set out, properly costed and with a credible plan to fund it. What we have seen is a series of thought-bubbles in the order of billions of dollars. Those opposite talk about the importance of reducing debt yet theirs is a plan for more debt without any capacity to reduce government expenditure over time. This is something that the government will continue to try to emphasise. I am pleased to finally get confirmation from the opposition of one element of the plan leaked last week—that is, the attempt to divert somewhere in the order of $800 million of foreign aid funds towards infrastructure projects in Northern Australia. I am pleased to see, at last, a member of the opposition confirm that that is a policy commitment.

It will be very interesting to see if, particularly from those who might have their eye on matters further abroad, such as the member for Kooyong and the shadow foreign minister, they will have something to say in the broader debate about these plans to redirect close to a billion dollars of foreign aid to projects that, under nobody's definition, could ever be construed as being foreign aid.

Mr Frydenberg interjecting

Mr BRADBURY: The member for Kooyong, with a very feeble interjection, demonstrates just how sensitive he is to this particular issue. I look forward to more detail but when those opposite ask how the government intends to pay for its plans, they should actually read the bills that they are debating, because this is one of them. This is what this is all about. This is what we have done in the past, what we will continue to do—

Mr Frydenberg interjecting

Mr BRADBURY: While the member for Kooyong is at it, he might be able to answer a question that nobody seems to be able to answer, which is: if it is the case that the opposition is committed to the National Disability Insurance Scheme, perhaps they would also tell us how they intend to fund that? We will be very clear on how we intend to fund our commitments but he is going to have to do a lot better than the shadow Treasurer has indicated, by simply dumping out some costings in the last days of the election campaign.

I commend the bill and I hope that the member for Bennelong's commitment to having a forthright debate about the issues at least manifests itself in a commitment to release some costed policies from the opposition.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.

Ordered that the bill be reported to the House without amendment.