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Wednesday, 14 May 2014
Page: 2586


Senator CASH (Western AustraliaAssistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women) (13:52): Last night, with the handing down of the Abbott government's first budget, Australia well and truly turned. The budget last night ensured that instead of heading down a pathway of further debt and deficit this country is now heading down the pathway to prosperity. Under the former government, we had cumulative debt to the extent that Australians now owe, on their credit cards—because the government's money is taken from each and every Australian—$667 billion. That is what our debt is projected to reach.

Why is that so tragic? It is because in 2007—but six years ago—when the Howard government lost office, we had reduced Australia's debt to zero. After 12 years in government, delivering surplus after surplus after surplus, we were not paying interest on debt. That is a fantastic achievement for the Australian people. We delivered a $22 billion surplus to the Australian people. We did not just talk about a surplus—like those on the other side did, in excess of 500 times, and on each occasion they failed to deliver to the Australian people. Through making tough decisions, through making the right decisions, the Howard government paid off the $96 billion in debt that had been created by the former government. And we can do it again. History always repeats itself when the coalition is re-elected to government.

We know as a government we have not been elected by the Australian people to make the easy decisions. We have been elected on a basis of fiscal responsibility. We have had the trust of the Australian people put into us to rebuild this country. It is not acceptable for the people of Australia to have the government borrow—on their credit cards—$1 billion every month. That is what we are currently borrowing as a government, because of the fiscal irresponsibility of the former government. It is $1 billion every single month that we are putting on the Australian people's credit card. That is an absolute disgrace, and there is no easy way out of that situation. We know that. We acknowledge that as a government.

Senator Wong was the minister responsible for lighting the match that started the fire that quite literally burnt down Australia's economy. We have been sent in to clean up that fire, to put water over it and to get rid of it. This government said, last night: 'We did not create the debt and the deficit. We did not create that. However, we as the adult government, as the government that the people of Australia put their faith in—overwhelmingly—at the 2013 election, will take responsibility and get this country back on track.'

It is unacceptable to leave to children not even born yet a legacy of debt and deficit. That may well be the legacy that those on the other side are prepared to leave to generations of Australians, but it is not the legacy that those on this side are going to leave future generations. We, each and every one of us as Australians, are playing our part to contribute to the nation building of this country. Our budget is about each and every one of us participating, in our way, to build the future of this great country. As our Treasurer said last night, 'Australians are not leaners; we are lifters.' And we are very tired of being taken down that very dark path of deficit after deficit after deficit of higher debt after higher debt after higher debt—of $1 billion every month—that those opposite were quite prepared to put on the Australian taxpayer's credit card, with no regard at all for the fact that it is not their money. The money belongs to the Australian taxpayer and their money should be spent responsibly.

This government was elected on the basis of four premises. The first was to stop the boats. We are delivering on that promise. The second was to remove the carbon tax, a $550 impost on the Australian people. We have brought that legislation in. It is those on the other side who will ask questions today about the financial impact on the average Australian. They know that this afternoon we could stand here and put through this place the repeal of the carbon tax legislation. But Labor does not want to do that.

The PRESIDENT: Order! It being 2 pm, the time for consideration of matters of public interest has expired.