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Tuesday, 10 February 2015
Page: 276

Budget


Senator URQUHART (TasmaniaDeputy Opposition Whip in the Senate) (14:48): My question is to the Minister for Finance, Senator Cormann. Can the minister confirm that no minister has raised the unfairness of the budget with him?


Senator CORMANN (Western AustraliaMinister for Finance) (14:48): I thank Senator Urquhart for this question. What senators on this side of the chamber keep raising with me is the unfairness of the debt and deficit legacy that Labor left behind. What people on the coalition side of the parliament keep raising with me is the unfairness of a weakening economy, rising unemployment, a bad and deteriorating budget position, a government living beyond its means, a government legacy left behind by Labor where we are living at the expense of our children and grandchildren. All of us on the coalition side of the parliament are working very hard to strengthen the economy, to create more jobs and to help families, for example, by getting rid of the carbon tax—the disastrous Labor-Green carbon tax. All of us on this side of the chamber are focused on repairing the budget mess that Labor left behind.

The PRESIDENT: Pause the clock. Senator Moore on a point of order?

Senator Moore: My point of order is on direct relevance. It was a very simple question. It was about whether the minister has received comments about the unfairness of the budget. The minister has not mentioned that in his answer as yet.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Moore, the minister has been addressing the question. He did go to the core of the question. He might not necessarily be answering it in the way you would like him to answer it, but he did address the core part of the question. Senator Wong?

Senator Wong: Thank you, Mr President.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Wong, I have ruled on the point of order. I do not think there is anything you can add.

Senator Wong: This is a new standard, Mr President.

The PRESIDENT: I am sorry, Senator Wong, I am not going to accept that. Senator Cormann, you have the call.

Senator CORMANN: All of us on this side of the chamber are very concerned about the unfairness of the budget situation that Labor left behind. Of course, the worst finance minister in the history of the Commonwealth is none other than Senator Wong. It is Senator Wong that put Australia on a trajectory where we are borrowing from our children and grandchildren and locking in massive increases in expenditure, in legislation, in the period beyond—

The PRESIDENT: Pause the clock. A point of order, Senator Wong?

Senator Wong: Thank you, Mr President. The question was very simple: can the minister confirm that no minister has raised the unfairness of the budget with him? It is based on the minister's own public statements. He is not addressing the question. With respect, Mr President, deciding to answer a different question is not direct relevance.

The PRESIDENT: I am sorry, Senator Wong. I cannot determine in what context the question was asked. I can only determine, a question is asked—

Senator Wong: He said on national television—

The PRESIDENT: Senator Wong, you have raised a point of order and you are now ignoring my response.

Senator Ian Macdonald: Throw her out!

Senator Colbeck interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Senator Macdonald and Senator Colbeck, it does not assist. A question was asked. The minister has gone directly to the core of the question in his response. I can only listen to the question and listen to the answer. He has spoken about the unfairness—

Senator Wong interjecting

The PRESIDENT: I am not going to entertain a debate about this, Senator Wong.

Senator Wong: I have a question for the President.

The PRESIDENT: I will entertain a question. Senator Wong?

Senator Wong: Mr President, perhaps you could indicate to the chamber now or later in what way the minister has gone to the core of the question asked.

Government senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order, on my right! Senator Wong, I do not have any obligation to do that, but what I will do after this is privately explain to you why I reached my decision. And that is my decision. Senator Cormann, you have the call.

Senator CORMANN: I can indeed confirm that on this side of the chamber we do discuss the absolute unfairness of the budget position that Labor left behind—the unfairness to future generations of Australians, the unfairness to our children and grandchildren, the unfairness to those Australians who need us to protect their living standards, the unfairness to those Australians who need funding for welfare and healthcare services and who need other important services of government to remain affordable and sustainable, the unfairness of the mess that Senator Wong left behind— (Time expired)























Senator URQUHART (TasmaniaDeputy Opposition Whip in the Senate) (14:53): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Has the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ms Bishop, ever objected to the unfair measures in the budget, including cuts to pensions, the GP tax and cuts to family payments?


Senator CORMANN (Western AustraliaMinister for Finance) (14:53): The unfairness that all in the Abbott government are concerned about is the unfairness of Labor's legacy of weakening economic growth, rising unemployment, the deteriorating budget position and the legacy of debt and deficit which is making it harder for us to protect our living standards.

Opposition senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Pause the clock.

Senator Conroy: Mr President, I raise a point of order on relevance. Again, Senator Cormann is choosing to answer an entirely different question to that which was asked. It was very specific: has Ms Bishop ever raised the unfairness of the measures that were raised? There was no other question. That was the only question that was asked.

The PRESIDENT: That question was more specific, and the minister has 34 seconds in which to answer the question. I remind the minister of the question.

Senator CORMANN: In direct response to the question, the unfairness that this government is concerned about is that the unsustainable spending growth trajectory that Labor left behind will force lower living standards on our children and grandchildren, and we think that is fundamentally unfair. We are working to strengthen the economy, create more jobs and repair the budget mess that Senator Wong left behind.

Honourable senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order, on both sides!







Senator URQUHART (TasmaniaDeputy Opposition Whip in the Senate) (14:55): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Has the Minister for Communications, Mr Turnbull, ever objected to the unfair measures in the budget, including the $100,000 degrees and cutting the pay of our Defence personnel?


Senator CORMANN (Western AustraliaMinister for Finance) (14:55): I really have answered these questions in response to the first two questions. But let me just say it again. All of us in the Abbott government are united in our resolve to address the unfairness of the budget situation that Labor left behind—the unfairness to our children and grandchildren and the unfairness of putting our future living standards at risk by the budget legacy that you left behind. We are very focused, all of us—

Opposition senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Pause the clock.

Senator Moore: Mr President, I raise a point of order—

Senator Conroy: Will Joe Hockey ever deliver a surplus?

The PRESIDENT: Senator Conroy! You have a colleague on her feet.

Senator Moore: Mr President, we will try again. My point of order is in terms of direct relevance. This was another very specific question referring particularly to $100,000 degrees and cutting the pay of our Defence personnel. Has the Minister for Communications, Mr Turnbull, ever objected to Senator Cormann about those unfair measures?

The PRESIDENT: I remind the minister of the question. He has 31 seconds left in which to answer.

Senator CORMANN: There is no proposal for $100,000 degrees in the budget. There is no such proposal, and Defence pay is actually to increase by 1.5 per cent on average over the next three years.