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Monday, 22 September 2008
Page: 8063

Mr TURNBULL (Leader of the Opposition) (2:05 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister. Prime Minister, will you, prior to your departure overseas again, meet with me to discuss what bipartisan measures can be taken in response to the global financial crisis?

Mr RUDD (Prime Minister) —A good start to bipartisanship would be to unblock the budget in the Senate. Six billion dollars is not, as has been suggested by some, a bit of loose change; it is important in producing a solid budget surplus, a buffer for Australia in difficult global financial circumstances. So bipartisanship should begin in the Senate, and I would strongly suggest to the leader of the Liberal Party that he instruct his Senate colleagues to unblock these budget measures. The reason for so doing is this: in uncertain global financial times the most irresponsible thing that can be done is to add to uncertainty. If a government in its budget delivers a budget surplus of $22 billion, the worst thing you can do to global markets is to say that an irresponsible political party in the Senate is threatening to block that surplus, given that Australia stands uniquely positioned to have that buffer for the future. I would suggest that bipartisanship begins about 200 metres away, in the Senate.