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Tuesday, 18 November 1986
Page: 2425

Senator SHORT(9.02) —Senator Ryan made a few comments a couple of moments ago-I confess that I did not hear all of them because I was not in the chamber-in relation to some figures that I mentioned in my earlier remarks. As I understand it, she cast doubt on those figures. I say to the Government that, while I do not stand by every dollar of those figures, most of them have been drawn out of the Budget Papers, namely, Budget Paper No. 5 and Budget Paper No. 6. I have compared them with the figures in Statement No. 1. I am convinced that the figures are essentially correct, at least in the sense that they understate government spending this year by $2.974 billion and therefore are a considerable understatement of the underlying deficit, if one takes the figures as a whole. Compared with the figures for 1984-85, that represents, in effect, an increase in the Budget deficit of $600m.

I urge the Government to look at the figures I have raised tonight and the proposition I have put. I strongly request an answer on those figures-although not necessarily tonight, of course. I contend that the figures I raised tonight throw very considerable doubt on the veracity of the proposal this Government has put in its Budget this year in terms of its deficit, the reduction in the deficit and the effect that that has on the total macroeconomic policy making of the Government. I contend that, on the basis of the figures contained in the Budget Papers, when one analyses them, one finds that the Government has tried to pull the wool over the eyes of the Australian community in terms of the responsibility it has exercised in regard to its Budget making parameters. If I am not right, I would like to know where I am wrong. I totally reject any proposition by the Government, without an adequate response, that my figures are incorrect; I do not think they are.