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Monday, 13 February 2012
Page: 849


WYATT ROY (Longman) (14:32): My question is to the Treasurer. Given that Labor has never delivered a surplus in my lifetime and that in his time as Treasurer the government has delivered the four largest budget deficits in Australian history, will the Treasurer confirm that, based on forecast surpluses, I will be 110 years old before the debt he has created in just four years has been paid off?

Mr SWAN (LilleyDeputy Prime Minister and Treasurer) (14:33): I thank the member for his question because here we have a typical example of what comes from the opposition on a daily basis. What we have is the opposition constantly talking down our economy.

Opposition members: No, that's you!

The SPEAKER: Order! There is far too much audible conversation and noise in the chamber. The Treasurer will be heard in silence for the balance of this answer and that direction goes to honourable members on both sides.

Mr SWAN: Yes, Mr Speaker, the opposition is constantly talking down our economy by exaggerating the impact of public debt in this country, by repeatedly misrepresenting the budget bottom line.

Mr Hunt: So he'll only be 99!

The SPEAKER: The member for Flinders will leave the chamber under the provision of standing order 94a. I have said that the Treasurer will be heard in silence for the balance of his answer. The member for Flinders was interjecting. The same rule goes to anyone else in the chamber.

The member for Flinders then left the chamber.

Mr SWAN: When it comes to public debt, our position is the envy of the world. When it comes to the level of unemployment in this developed economy, our position is the envy of the world. When we look at the investment pipeline, our position is the envy of the world. When we look at our experience during the global financial crisis and the global recession, our position was the envy of the world. Those opposite are now in a shambles when it comes to fiscal policy. If they were in power, they would blow a $70 billion hole in our budget bottom line.

The level of public debt in this country is very low by international standards—less than one-tenth of major advanced economies. We are being held up as a perfect example of what to do by the International Monetary Fund, by the OECD and by the World Bank, yet the opposition come into this House day in, day out and talk down our economy. They know that our revenues have been written down by $140 billion. Despite all of that, because of the application of our very strict fiscal policy, we will be coming back to surplus in 2012-13.

Opposition members interjecting

Mr SWAN: The reason they laugh like hyenas is that they know their position is a shambles—a $70 billion crater in their budget bottom line before they make any other commitments to the people of Australia before the next election. The Leader of the Opposition, the shadow Treasurer and the shadow finance spokesman simply cannot make their numbers add up. We have the farcical situation where the shadow Treasurer told Laurie Oakes that he is going to give a figure to the shadow cabinet and, depending which figure it is, he will know who is the leaker on the opposition front bench. I think we know today. He gave Moe over there the $50 billion figure but it was Curly over there he gave the $70 billion figure to. (Time expired)