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Thursday, 4 February 2010
Page: 422

Senator JOYCE (Leader of the Nationals in the Senate) (9:38 AM) —by leave—I move:

That the Senate take note of the statement.

We have asked, and rightly asked, for the tabling of the document that shows to the Australian people the revenue capacity of our nation and that was delivered to the government before Christmas. I thank the senator for offering us the MYEFO documents, which we already have, and the budget papers, which we have spent an inordinate amount of time going over in estimates, but this is yet another stunt. What we want, what is required, what is only right to be asked for, is the tabling of the Henry tax review. The document is there. They have it. We need it. And they cannot carry any plausibility whatsoever in arguments about costings or in arguments about finding over $3.2 billion when they hold back the premier document for the revenue structure of this nation into the future.

What is it about the Henry tax review that they are hiding from the public? What is it about this document that has now gone into that nebulous position of ‘we’ll release it at some time in the future’? Is this another part of the Labor Party’s Intergenerational report, so we will see it around 2050? We need that document, and until the Labor Party can table that document they do not hold any credibility whatsoever in being able to define the revenue structure of this nation and, by reason of that, to give us a position to start determining the costs.

This is all part of the Labor Party’s trajectory, the insanity, as they walk towards the largest debt—well, they are at the largest debt this nation has ever had. By reason of that debt, they are putting pressure for the future on all sections of expenditure. They have to acknowledge that as they walk forward past $120 billion, and on and on and on it goes. We hear Mr Swan talking about $315 billion peak debt. Now we hear a number of $256 billion peak debt. But they will not provide the document or say how we are going to finance it. Unless we understand where the money comes from and how we are going to finance it, then the debt is out of control. But I think that is the issue: the debt is out of control.

This government has got to be decisive. They lack decisiveness. They lack clarity. They lack transparency. And now they are sitting on the Henry tax review. Why? Is it unsavoury? What is in it? How can they come into this parliament in an election year and sit on the main document we have to deal with the major economic problem that this government has brought about, which is the debt of this nation. We have in excess of $1.4 trillion in expenses in the next four years.

Senator Crossin —Trillion, billion, million—what is it?

Senator JOYCE —It is not a case of what is it. It is a case, Senator, of where is it. Where is the Henry tax review? Why don’t you have the capacity to be transparent and open and table the document? Why are you hiding it? Where is it? Is it in the top shelf of Mr Swan’s desk? Whereabouts have you put it? Why can’t you be decisive and tell us when you are going to table it? Why do you lack the capacity to be decisive in the financial affairs of this nation? It is not as if you do not have the information. All you have to do is walk to Mr Swan’s office, pick it up and bring it in. It is as simple as that. But you do not want to do that—no, this is too complicated. So we have to sit back here, while there is this veil of competence that you are in some way in control of where this nation is going, when the debt of this nation is just blowing out of the water and when you make statements asking, ‘How will you find $3.2 billion?’

Well, I put it back to you: how are you going to find the interest expense on your debt? If you are worried about $3.2 billion, then there are a lot of things out there that we should be concerned about. There are a lot of things that this nation is going to have a problem with if you, by your own statements, say that that is a problem. That makes Australians very concerned. The juxtaposition that you have the gall to talk about $3.2 billion of the coalition’s costings on our environmental policy—

Senator Cameron —It’s a con job!

Senator JOYCE —but you spend $3.2 billion on ceiling insulation.

Senator Cameron —It’s the biggest con job, an absolute con job!

The PRESIDENT —Order! Senator Cameron! Senator Joyce, continue.

Senator JOYCE —I will take the interjection from Senator Cameron. He talked about a con job. I will tell you what a con job is. A con job is sitting on the Henry tax review, it is not being transparent to the Australian people, it is hiding behind the numbers, it is not being upfront and telling Australians exactly where we are. It is the Labor Party that just does not have the capacity to be honest and open and transparent. It is the Labor Party that received this document—

Senator Cameron —You’re the biggest con job!

The PRESIDENT —Order! Senator Cameron!

Senator JOYCE —Are you going to toss him out?

The PRESIDENT —Senator Joyce, continue.

Senator JOYCE —We are asking for something that has obviously been paid for by the Australian taxpayer. I think the Australian taxpayer has a right to say because they financed this document: ‘If you have this document that is vital for determining the finances of the nation, in this election year why don’t you table it? Why don’t you be upfront, honest and decisive?’

Senator Cameron —You won’t last long.

Senator JOYCE —Your only mechanism for trying to abscond from the process of transparency is to send—

Senator Cameron —The Libs will get you. You won’t last long.

Senator JOYCE —Senator Doug Cameron into the chamber to start carrying on like what you hear. Speaking there, people of Australia, is the financial brains of the Labor Party. Senator Doug Cameron is a great representation of the financial acumen of the Australian Labor Party. That is why we get so concerned about their lack of capacity to be decisive and their lack of capacity to be transparent. We are concerned about the arrogance they now have. They get a document that has been publicly paid for and they sit on it. They go forward with grand statements of fiscal prudence yet they do not have the capacity to table the premier document.

This is the same Labor Party that said they were fiscally conservative. What an absolute joke. They say there is a problem finding $3.2 billion. I put to you: how are you going to pay off the $120 billion worth of debt you have now? How are you going to finance that? Where is that going to come from? If you have a problem with $3.2 billion, what are you going to do with an interest bill somewhere between $6 billion and $8 billion now? How are you going to finance that? If $3.2 billion is a problem, why on earth did you spend $3.2 billion on ceiling insulation?

This is the financial acumen of a party that is taking us to Hades in a basket because they just do not have the capacity to manage the numbers. This is the party that went to the Australian people will all the marvellous rhetorical statements, the guile, the cunning and the smoothness, but they just do not have the capacity to deliver. They cannot deliver the outcome; they cannot deliver the document; they cannot table the Henry tax review. They just do not have financial management in their DNA. Now we are seeing them.

What we have here is a clear expose that the finances of this nation are out of control. The finances of this nation are out of control and the Labor Party have not got a clue how they are going to pay back the debt. They are sitting on the Henry tax review trying to work out how the numbers all stick together, but they have not got a clue. It is panic stations in the Labor Party and they will not table the review. It has been delivered by the head of Treasury; it has been delivered by Dr Henry. Don’t they think he is competent? Don’t they think he was up to the job? What are they hiding? I think he is an immensely competent person. Why don’t you table the review? What are you trying to hide? What is the problem? What are you trying to hide?

What are we going to get instead of the Henry tax review? Senator Doug Cameron. There is the epistle of economic clarity—Senator Doug Cameron. That is what we get in place of the Henry tax review. We can listen to Senator Doug Cameron any day of the week if we turn on the radio.

Senator Cameron —How about some more gaffes? How about some more goofs? How about some more gibberish?

The PRESIDENT —Order! Senator Doug Cameron!

Senator JOYCE —You can hear him out the back barking like a rabid dog. So the metaphor of Labor Party management is Senator Doug Cameron. The Labor Party refuses to table the premier document on the revenue-raising capacity of this nation. The Labor Party refuses to engage in a proper, open and transparent debate about how we finance their massive debt. The Labor Party are hiding behind the fact that the finances of this nation are out of control. The Labor Party do not know how to finance $3.2 billion so you have no hope of financing your $120 billion of debt you have currently got. We heard Mr Swan, the Treasurer, last year talking about $315 billion peak debt. If you cannot manage $3.2 billion of debt how are you going to manage $315 billion? How are you going to do that?

Everything about the Labor Party is starting to mean we have absolutely no confidence in their deliveries and their projections. When it suits them or when they are scared of the truth they sit on the documents. These are the people who wanted transparency. These are the people who said they would be fiscally conservative. This is the management team that was going to deliver those outcomes. Before Christmas a document was handed to them yet they are still sitting on it. Did they give us a decisive answer? They love the rhetoric of ‘decisive’. I have a very simple question: when are you going to table the document? You know what you get? Like the answer to all of the economic questions: ‘Sometime in the future. Somewhere out there it will be tabled.’ That is just not good enough.

Senator Sherry and Mr Swan must do the right thing by the Australian people. They must be transparent and open. It is no good to say you are decisive when you are not. It is no good to say you are fiscally conservative when you are not. It is no good to say you are open and transparent when you are not. Unless you decide to table this document, that is the metaphor of your management. That is what the Australian people think.

You have no credibility, zero credibility, in any discussions about finances, budgets or the aspiration to reduce your massive debt because you do not even have the capacity to table a document that you have in your possession. The reason you do not table it is that you cannot make the numbers add up. The numbers just do not stack up. For the Australian people that is a massive concern, because as your debt marches ahead, getting bigger and bigger and bigger, you put pressure on all expenditure and on all aspects of budgetary appropriations into the future. You are doing that. This debt will start to manage our nation. You are not managing the debt; the debt is starting to manage our nation and you have brought that about. It is totally your responsibility. Unless we see the document, you have zero credibility, you are not transparent, you are not decisive and your economic management is a complete and utter farce.