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Thursday, 24 June 2004
Page: 31671


Mr CREAN (1:59 PM) —The Labor Party agrees that the amendments be disagreed to. This is sheer incompetence by the government. It comes about as another example of the government trying to do things on the run—that is what it is. You can see the shambles in this place now. The House is sitting and no-one knows when it is going to get up. Constantly the government is bringing stuff back in, getting it wrong and having to sit longer to correct the mess.

Let me tell you what happened last night. The Treasurer, Peter Costello, and his deputy agreed to an amendment which abolished the superannuation surcharge from 2006-07 onwards. As the Treasurer's own budget papers show, at page 5-21 of Budget Paper No. 1, this will blow a $1.2 billion per annum hole in Peter Costello's budget. Given his Prime Minister's 10-year framework for policies, this is a $12 billion super blooper over the next 10 years. I do not know how the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer could maintain a straight face as he stood there and said this was not an embarrassment for the government. There will be a $1.2 billion a year budget hole from 2006-07, $2.3 billion over the forward estimates and $12 billion over that 10-year period—and Peter Costello said this was about competence. This is one of the grossest acts of incompetence the parliament has ever seen.

And where is the Treasurer? The Treasurer is always in here with his smart little grabs at question time, always trying to put people down. But whenever it comes to fessing up that he mucked up he is nowhere to be seen. He is in hiding. Let us put on the record the incompetence of the Treasurer in relation to this. Let us understand that what the Treasurer agreed to last night was the abolition of the surcharge. Let us understand that part of the reason the parliament continues to sit late and is in confusion is as a result of his incompetence. People with glass jaws living in glass houses should not throw stones. This is a super blooper of mammoth proportions. It is all on the Treasurer's watch. He needs to be condemned for it. But we do agree that the amendments be disagreed to.

Question agreed to.