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Tuesday, 3 February 2009
Page: 55

Mr TRUSS (Leader of the Nationals) (5:58 PM) —Today the Rudd Labor government announced a mammoth spending spree that will have to be repaid by the next generation. The stimulus that is being provided today must be paid for by our children and our grandchildren. Labor seem to believe you can keep spending without there being any implications. That is their history in government federally and in every state. Labor have a history of producing deficits; they are simply incapable of balancing budgets. The previous speaker, the member for Maribyrnong, suggested that Labor were entering a ‘temporary deficit’. He, like all of his colleagues, refuses to define what ‘temporary’ means.

But I can say one thing to you with absolute confidence: this deficit will last beyond this Labor government. Labor never pays off deficits. It never balances budgets. This is a permanent deficit until we get rid of a Labor government, and it will be the next coalition government that will be faced with precisely the same problem that the previous coalition government had upon coming into office—paying off a massive debt left over by big spenders with no plans. The reality is that the Howard government came into office with a $96 billion debt. That had been accumulated over the 13 years of the Hawke and Keating governments. The Rudd government will trump that in one term. In one term they will turn around $20 billion worth of surplus into a $96 billion debt or more—and they will do it in one term.

This is supposed to be a Nation Building and Jobs Plan, but it contains no vision for the future of our nation. There is no coherent strategy to drive any kind of recovery. It is a short-term package designed to buy popularity for a government that is floundering and attempting to find its way. It has been another classic example of Labor and the sound byte, stage managed stunts, press releases and press conferences one after the other to build up the momentum for this occasion. We even had the quite extraordinary situation this morning of the Treasurer calling a press conference to announce that there would be another press conference in two hours. He had nothing to say. It was just another media stunt. And that is what this is all about: carefully orchestrated media stunts always followed up by supporting statements from the organisations that seem to have been generously treated. There is not much detail about how it is going to come, but the reality is that this is a package that will not deliver any kind of vision or any kind of plan to guarantee the future of our country.

What have we had? We have had rivers of cash starting to flow: $42 billion on the biggest spend now, pay later package that our country has ever seen. I hope we do not ever need a third stimulus package, because we have already spent all the money that is available and gone $20 billion or more into debt on this one alone—in fact, another $35 billion, we are told, in the budget deficit for the following year. The reality is that Labor has no plan whatsoever to pay this money back. I was amazed at some of the gobbledygook that was used by the Prime Minister in attempting to talk about when the repayments would actually start to be made on this package. They are talking about growth above the trend now and then automatically recovering. In other words, the government does not have to do anything; it will just automatically recover. We are going to wait there until this automatic stuff starts to come flowing in. In the meantime, this mad spending spree will continue.

Let us be absolutely clear about this: today’s cash stimulus is tomorrow’s cash drought. The money that is being spent today inevitably means that future interest rates will be higher than they otherwise would be. Future taxes will be higher than they otherwise would be. Government expenditure in the future will be lower than it otherwise would be because future budgets will have to incorporate a very large item for interest on the debt that has been created today by the Rudd Labor government. Yet the Prime Minister has said to us that there will be no new taxes. He seems to have forgotten about the new $11.5 billion emissions trading scheme tax that he is about to impose upon Australian business. Isn’t $11.5 billion a considerable cost imposition? So there will be taxes there all right, and there will be a lot more of them and fewer tax cuts because of the funding that is being spent today. This is not about creating jobs even though it is called a jobs package. The Treasurer has admitted that all it is going to do is sustain 90,000 jobs—no jobs have been created; 90,000 will be sustained. That is a cost of $470,000 per job, and it will be paid by future generations. (Time expired)