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Tuesday, 13 May 2014
Page: 2406


Senator WILLIAMS (New South Wales) (14:16): My question is to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, the Minister for Employment and Minister representing the Treasurer, Senator Abetz, and it relates to the federal budget that will be delivered tonight. Can the minister advise the Senate why it is necessary for the government to make tough but fair and responsible decisions in this budget?

Senator ABETZ (TasmaniaLeader of the Government in the Senate, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service and Minister for Employment) (14:17): I thank Senator Williams for that question and for the insight that he has into the need for us to restore the economic fortunes of our country. The Australian people overwhelmingly elected the Liberal and National parties to government on 7 September to fix the budget, not just for this generation but also for the generations to come.

This government has inherited a debt and deficit disaster from Labor that, if left unaddressed, threatens the future prosperity of our children and grandchildren. The International Monetary Fund has warned that by 2018—only four years away—Australia's real government expenditure is set to outstrip all of the other 17 advanced OECD economies. As a result of Labor's fiscal vandalism, Australia is facing the single largest increase in national debt outside Europe. This is simply not sustainable. Indeed, each and every month, as we speak, the government of Australia, courtesy of the Labor-Green legacy, is borrowing $1,000 million per month from overseas just to pay the interest bill—not to pay down the capital; just to pay the interest bill. We are having to borrow to pay for the interest. It is like using your credit card to pay for the house mortgage. At the end of the day, the credit card is going to run out and then the whole house has to be sold off.

We are taking the action that is so vitally necessary today to ensure that the future of our nation is guaranteed. I will conclude on this: government debt is deferred taxation and is theft from future generations.

Senator WILLIAMS (New South Wales) (14:19): I have a supplementary question, Mr President. Can the minister inform the Senate how tonight's budget and the government's broader economic action strategy will fix Labor's debt and deficit disaster and create more jobs for future generations of Australians?

Senator ABETZ (TasmaniaLeader of the Government in the Senate, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service and Minister for Employment) (14:19): The conclusion of Senator Williams' question absolutely hits the nail on the head. This is all about getting the economy back on track so that we can create the jobs necessary to sustain the Australian population. That is what they want—they want jobs—and that is why it is so imperative that we fix the economic disaster left to us by those opposite.

Our strategy was very clear. We said that we would have five pillars to our economic policy: cutting the carbon tax, cutting the regulatory burden, boosting trade, building the infrastructure of the 21st century and getting the budget back on track. Having created the mess, you would think that the Labor-Green senators in this place would at least get out of the way to enable us to fix it. They remind me of the arsonist complaining about the water damage being occasioned by the fire brigade. (Time expired)

Senator WILLIAMS (New South Wales) (14:20): I have a further supplementary question, Mr President. Can the minister advise the Senate what other steps the government is taking to develop a strong and prosperous Australian economy with higher living standards, better pay and more jobs?

Senator ABETZ (TasmaniaLeader of the Government in the Senate, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service and Minister for Employment) (14:20): One thing that you have to understand—and Senator Williams understands this, even if the Labor-Green senators do not—is that by paying down the debt, by getting rid of the debt and interest burden, we will free up taxpayers' money for the possibility of growing the much-needed infrastructure in this country. What we are seeking to do, and will seek to do in tonight's budget, is deliver a budget that is both tough and fair, a budget that will get us back on track. It will anchor the government's legislative reform package that is designed to free up the economy so that workers can get jobs and that businesses can grow and prosper.

Already we have introduced legislation that will abolish the carbon tax, scrap the mining tax, unshackle Qantas and re-establish the Australian Building and Construction Commission. These bills form part of our program that the Labor and Green senators in this place, refusing to acknowledge the decision of the Australian people, refuse to pass. (Time expired)