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Thursday, 5 February 2009
Page: 595

Ms JULIE BISHOP (3:21 PM) —My question is to the Treasurer. Why does the government need to increase the borrowing limit of the Commonwealth from $75 billion to $200 billion immediately?

Mr SWAN (Treasurer) —I thank the Deputy Leader of the Opposition for her question. We are increasing the borrowing limit because we have to fund the accumulated deficits over time and, if she knew anything about this process, she would know that it is not all done at once. So we are seeking to put in place an ample amount of money to cover those accumulated deficits—deficits which flow principally from the collapse in revenues imposed on this country by the rest of the world because of the global recession. There is nothing unusual about this; it is normal practice.

Opposition members interjecting—

Mr SWAN —There is nothing unusual about borrowing on financial markets and the issuance of Commonwealth government securities. Even the member for Higgins engaged in that practice. The catcalls across the chamber just demonstrate what is motivating the opposition. It is not good policy, it is naked political advantage which stands in the road of the government doing the right thing by Australia to put in place vital measures which will stimulate demand—as the Minister for Tourism was just saying—and to provide for vital investments that will support jobs and growth over time.

Of course, you can contrast that with the approach of the opposition. I was referring earlier to the remarks of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition when she said this morning on Radio National’s Breakfast program that we should wait to see how this global recession pans out and how it affects Australia. That is what she said. In the face of all this evidence, she thinks that we should just sit around on our hands and do absolutely nothing. That is the doctrine of calculated neglect. That is what it is, and it is dangerous. It is a dangerous approach that we are having from this opposition, because it adds to uncertainty. As the chief economist of the IMF said in those remarks that I quoted earlier, that is a dangerous thing to do in these circumstances. In these circumstances it is a time to be bold. In these circumstances it is not a time for half measures. In these circumstances it is a time to back the national interest and do the right thing by the country.