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Wednesday, 15 February 2017
Page: 999


Senator O'SULLIVAN (Queensland) (15:38): One of the things I always like to wake me up in mid-afternoon in this place is a lecture from the Australian Labor Party about how to manage the economy. I come from a Labor household, believe it or not. I grew up in a Labor parish—Catholic—in the fifties. I have said before in this place that if my dad could he would punch his hands through his coffin lid and mark the box: 'I'm Labor, whoever the candidate is.' But that was that Labor, and now we have this Labor; and to be lectured by you on economic management is absolutely offensive in my view.

I am on a unity ticket with Senator Hanson in relation to the reflection she had on your responses to this very responsible legislation. This problem has to be fixed. We have a $320 billion debt. It belongs to us. It belongs to everyone on the floor. It belongs to the people up in the gallery. It belongs to all the people out in the country. There is no nefarious thing at the bottom of the garden that owns the debt. It is our debt. It is a national debt and it will impact on us. It impacts on us now. When these good people go to borrow money for their homes they are paying nearly three-quarters up to one whole point, of interest because they are competing for money that the Labor government had borrowed over a very short period of time.

When the Labor Party to came into government the debt was zero, there was $60 billion in the Future Fund, which has now grown enormously under the very competent management of people like Peter Costello, a former very well respected member in the other place. Those opposite really do think that this debt is going to evaporate. They really do think that these structural deficits, where we are borrowing something like $40 billion a year, $1 billion a week, to pay debt and to pay for things that we cannot afford in this nation, things that were left on the balance sheet of the nation, that went unfunded. They are important things in some instances, mind you. The national disability scheme is one of them. We should have put that in place 50 years ago, not five years ago, but no-one put anything on the other side. We want to restructure education, do all of these monstrously wonderful things and throw on at them, kick buckets and buckets, but there was no money left in the forward estimates by the Labor Party when government transitioned to us.

What the good people of this nation know—particularly those who are in my age group, because we have watched it over 30 and 40 years—is that Labor comes to power and Labor does some good work on occasions. I can say that there are things this nation has now that it would not have if it was not for the Labor Party. But every single time they had just with the plastic out and go for years and run up enormous debts, and the people out there very concerned about it. They understand basic economics. They understand that you cannot spend more than what your income is. So what happens is that after a while they get alarmed and they put our government in to bring the debt back down. After a few terms they get a bit tired, the belt is a bit tight for them with the austerity measures, and they groan, 'Gee, Howard's a good operator. Gee, Howard's done well for the economy. Gee, Howard and Costello have put this nation in a very strong position.' What do they do? They nod off; they are not thinking, and they put the Labor Party back in, and they have a credit card in each hand and up the bill goes again

Senator Gallagher: And a GFC!

Senator O'SULLIVAN: I will tell you now, I look back and I do not understand how you could run up a $300 billion debt in six years, despite thousands of dollars being given to people. Clive Palmer has declared that he got one of the cheques for $900. Clive Berghofer in my community—net worth $300 million—got a cheque, and then some pink batts up in the roof and a whole host of other things.

What I say to you people is: I join the unity ticket with One Nation here. Do not lecture us on matters of the economy. You are absolutely hopeless. You are hypocritical. You cannot count. You need to take your shoes and socks off every day and run a toe up for every billion dollars of repayment on debt, which could have been spent in our electorates on hospitals, education, defence—a whole range of things. Do not come in here an lecture me, today or any other day.