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Monday, 7 November 2005
Page: 27

Mr MICHAEL FERGUSON (2:08 PM) —My question is addressed to the Treasurer. Would the Treasurer update the House on developments involving the Future Fund. What will be the impact of this fund to taxpayers in years to come? Are there any alternative policies?

Mr COSTELLO (Treasurer) —I thank the honourable member for Bass for his question and I can inform him that the government expects shortly to introduce legislation to establish Australia’s Future Fund—a fund which is determined to try to protect and strengthen Australia against the financial costs which we will face over decades to come in relation to the ageing of the population. This is far-sighted legislation—an initiative which very few countries in the world will be able to match—to ensure that to future generations we bequeath an Australian nation which is in far stronger shape to deal with the demographic changes that are going to come over our society and, in fact, other Western societies over the next several decades. Today the government has announced that the Chairman of the Board of Guardians of the Future Fund will be Mr David Murray, who I believe is well known and well respected in Australia’s business community. The government will be announcing the additional guardians, whose role it will be to oversee the fund and ensure that the fund is locked away for future generations to finance the ageing of the population.

Opposition members interjecting—

Mr COSTELLO —I hear interjections from the opposition about protecting the fund, and nothing could be more important than to protect this fund against would-be robbers. One has already identified himself because I have here a copy of the Northern Star of 11 June 2005. Have a listen to this:

Federal Labor’s plans for improving the Pacific Highway ... depend on plans to commandeer Treasurer Peter Costello’s ‘Future Fund’.

Labor leader Kim Beazley told the Northern Star he is going to commandeer the Future Fund. The reason we are having a board of guardians—and I will table that excerpt—is to make sure that future generations of Australians can be protected, that their financial future can be secured and that the liabilities of the federal government—which are already about $80 billion and expected to grow to $140 billion by 2020—are adequately provided for. This is a mechanism that all the states have already put in place and the Commonwealth has lagged on. But if we start to accommodate these things now, if we set this up at arm’s length and if we ensure that we have guardians who defend the national interest, then Australia can face the future confidently, as well prepared as any other economy in the world for the changes coming over us to give young people the opportunity for the future that they deserve.