Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Thursday, 21 March 2013
Page: 2336

Senator RONALDSON (Victoria) (12:05): I rise today to speak to the Export Finance and Insurance Corporation Amendment (Finance) Bill 2013. This is a bill which the coalition does not oppose. As my colleague the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Julie Bishop, said in a speech to the Federation Chamber last Wednesday:

According to its official website, EFIC:

… provides finance and insurance solutions to help Australian exporters overcome the financial barriers they face when growing their business overseas.

It is, in fact, the Australian government's export credit agency, and assists export trade, or overseas investments, where the private market is unable to do so.

Ms Bishop went on:

The bill will amend the financial arrangements of EFIC to provide for the payment of a special dividend of $200 million and any adjustments to EFIC's callable capital that may be necessary in the future. The coalition does not oppose this bill.

According to the government, the bill follows recommendations and findings of the 2012 Productivity Commission inquiry report into EFIC's operations. The Productivity Commission found that, where EFIC retains capital above its minimum requirements, this surplus capital has an opportunity cost that is borne by the taxpayer. The commission recommended that legislation be amended to allow the minister to direct EFIC to return surplus capital to the government.

However, as Ms Bishop also points out

… this … essentially has nothing to do with EFIC as such but everything to do with $200 million that is being extracted from it.

Indeed, very much so.

We have seen this incompetent Labor government running us into huge debt, promising a surplus and back flipping on that promise, raising the debt further and increasing the debt limit beyond what is acceptable. As my colleague the shadow Treasurer, Joe Hockey, said:

The truth is that Labor does not know how to live within their means. They are like someone with a credit card who is out of control.

Now we are in a situation where our gross debt is around $263 billion—$263,000 million. As my colleague Senator Barnaby Joyce has said:

… $200 billion could buy you 380,000 homes. Or in other words, with this debt the government could have bought every home in Canberra—twice.

The interest we are paying on this debt is enormous. We have had so many broken promises and so much financial mismanagement under Labor. We have had the carbon tax promise that 'There will be no carbon tax under a government lead', a mining tax that raises no revenue, the raids on inactive savings accounts and the raids on superannuation. Labor's solution to the EU debt crisis was to lecture the EU and say, 'Take on more debt.' We have had 300 promises of a budget surplus and were told that, come hell or high water, failure is not an option. That is simply not true.