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Thursday, 14 March 2013
Page: 2180


Mr HOCKEY (North Sydney) (14:14): My question is to the Treasurer. I refer the Treasurer to the $12 billion—

Government members interjecting

Mr HOCKEY: Mate, there is only one job you are interested in, I know!

The SPEAKER: Order! The member for North Sydney has the call. He will commence his question again.

Mr Mitchell interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for McEwen is warned!

Mr HOCKEY: We know what job is going. My question is to the Treasurer. I refer the Treasurer to the $12 billion that the government will spend this year servicing its gross debt. Can the Treasurer confirm that the annual cost of servicing Labor's gross debt would be enough to fully fund the Commonwealth's contribution to the National Disability Insurance Scheme and any new funding model for school education, each and every year?

Mr SWAN (LilleyDeputy Prime Minister and Treasurer) (14:15): What we are seeing play out here today is an attempt by the opposition to put in place another fear campaign. I will make a couple of very, very clear points. This government makes no apology for putting growth and jobs first—absolutely no apology. It is the case that this government moved during the global financial crisis to support jobs and growth in our economy in the face of the worst global recession in over 80 years. And it is true that in that process we incurred some debt. But we did that to support jobs and growth. And what is the outcome of that process? Over 900,000 jobs created in Australia. Everybody on this side of the House is proud of that record because we understand the importance of the dignity of work. When an economy is challenged by a global financial crisis, what responsible economic policymakers do is support their economy.

We have had some Tea Party rhetoric today from the shadow Treasurer about levels of debt. Our debt is around one-tenth of the debt of other major advanced economies, and the benefit we receive from what the government did over the past five years is 900,000 jobs. But of course they ignore the facts. They cannot answer the question about why Australia is one of the few economies in the world with a triple-A credit rating and a stable outlook. The reason we have a triple-A credit rating and a stable outlook is that we have strong public finances.

The SPEAKER: I call the Manager of Opposition Business, who is not going to test my patience again, on a point of order.

Mr Pyne: No, not at all, Madam Speaker—not at all. On a point of order: the Treasurer was asked a question about whether it was true that the $12 billion of interest payments would pay for the Gonski and the NDIS responses of the government. He has not even tried to address that question. I ask you to bring him back to it.

The SPEAKER: The Treasurer has the call and will refer to the question before the chair.

Mr SWAN: I certainly am. I was asked a question about debt and I was going to go on and make this point. If you care about debt, if you care about paying it off, then you want our economy to grow faster. If you care about these issues, you should support employment. If you have contained inflation, if you have a strong investment pipeline and if you have low interest rates, you can support growth and jobs in our economy.

But of course there is a different view. Those opposite would make a different choice than the choice we made during the global financial crisis and the choice I announced at the end of last year. Their choice would be to cut jobs and growth in the face of revenue write-downs. So Australia does have a very clear choice. Everyone on this side of the House stands for growth and jobs and those on that side of the House stand for big cuts in public expenditure—

The SPEAKER: The Treasurer will return to the question.

Mr SWAN: which will hit growth and jobs and result in higher deficits and higher debt. That is the Liberal future.

Mr HOCKEY (North Sydney) (14:19): Madam Speaker, my supplementary question is to the Treasurer. Treasurer, what is the average annual interest rate you expect to pay on the $300 billion of debt?

Mr SWAN (LilleyDeputy Prime Minister and Treasurer) (14:19): As the shadow Treasurer knows, those rates change over time.

Mr Hockey interjecting

The SPEAKER: Order! The member for North Sydney will observe the standing orders.