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Tuesday, 30 October 2012
Page: 8414


Senator MOORE (Queensland) (15:14): I am so pleased that Senator Brandis referred to the Bible in that statement because as I was listening to him pontificating about the process and reiterate the verb 'promise'—and I am sorry, I forgot to count how many times Senator Brandis said that; I will have to refer to Hansard, but I will say it was several times that Senator Brandis made that statement—I was actually thinking of Matthew. I do not often go off into the realms of biblical response, but I was thinking when he kept saying, 'How many times?' that Bible classes from school were going through my mind. How many times did they deny? It was just appropriate that in the end Senator Brandis went from his statements of promise into Matthew and talking directly from the Bible.

Senator Brandis also said that you could be cynical about statements in this place. Well, Mr Deputy President, you can be truly cynical in this place when anyone from either the opposition or the government looks across this chamber and demands a guarantee, because we well know that there is no way that anyone in this place can ever say, 'I guarantee this will happen'. What we can say, and what we have said, is that this government is committed to bring in the surplus.

If we go back and look at the process we see the fact that the government has committed to bring in a surplus in this financial year. When the Treasurer, with Senator Wong, brought down the MYEFO statements late last week that statement was made again: that this government has a commitment to bringing in a surplus in this year's budget and that we are moving in every way to respond to that commitment.

Today in her answers, Senator Wong responded to a number of questions about what was happening with MYEFO, the budget and also the mining resources tax. She talked about the efforts that the government has made. We pointed to the savings that came down in the statement last week; difficult savings identified across a range of departments. These were responding to what has happened not only to our economy but to the world economy in recent years. We pointed out the fact that from the time we drew up our original budget for 2012-13 there has been a significant reduction in income to the government.

We have actually stated what that reduction has been, through taxes raised and through the reduction in our minerals and resources areas. These were the figures on which our original budget statement was made and we then said at that stage that in maintaining our commitment to having a budget surplus this year we would have to make changes. That is why the midyear budget changes are announced. This is not something that this government has created; this is a system that has been in place in our financial system through many, many years. In terms of process: the government brings down a budget; we put forecasts in that budget about what we intend to do; in the midyear cycle we review what has happened—we go through what has happened to income and also to expenditure; and we make changes. That is why MYEFO exists.

We did say that we needed to make changes because the of the processes that had happened. There continues to be a commitment to working with our economy to have a budget surplus in this financial year. Those statements will continue to be made, and I am looking forward to hearing Senator Brandis coming back in times to come and saying how many times different statements will be made. We will have the answers; we will come back and say what we are doing as a responsible government in looking at what is happening in the economy to ensure that we are able to make a commitment to the Australian people that we are seeking to have a budget surplus.

So in terms of what the government has done: the minister responded in detail to questions. We have put out the information about where the cuts are going to be made. The challenge now of course is that the government has put out this process and we will have to come back to this place and have the debate to see whether the opposition will support the savings measures. That will be what will happen. We will see the debate then, and again we will see how any government is able to actually work with the economy when there is resistance from the opposition at every turn.

So, returning to Matthew: we will have to study our Bible to see what happens next, and the government will continue to do the job for which it was elected. We will continue looking at the budget. (Time expired)