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Wednesday, 31 October 2012
Page: 12801

Economy


Mr HOCKEY (North Sydney) (14:08): My question is to the Treasurer. I remind the Treasurer that he has promised to deliver a surplus this year on over 150 occasions, including stating, 'We've got our colours nailed to the mast,' while yesterday he failed to nail his colours to the mast and failed to guarantee a surplus in this House. When did the Treasurer decide to abandon his commitment to deliver a surplus?


Mr SWAN (LilleyDeputy Prime Minister and Treasurer) (14:09): I thank the shadow Treasurer for that question, because we have a proven track record of putting in place fiscal settings which will support—

Opposition members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Order!

Mr SWAN: We have a proven track record of putting in place fiscal settings which support jobs and growth in our economy—and nothing could be more important to everyone on this side of the House than what we have done to support jobs and growth in our economy over the past five years. When the global financial crisis and the global recession threatened, we put in place a substantial response to support jobs and to support small business in our community. As a consequence we did not experience a recession, as did just about every other developed economy in the world. The consequence of that has been that our economy is stronger than just about any other developed economy in the world. We are expected to grow faster this year and next than other major developed economy.

When we put that stimulus in place we also outlined fiscal rules to bring our budget back to surplus—and, since that time, that is precisely what we have been doing. We have put in place a set of fiscal rules to bring us back to surplus. And because there has been $160 billion in revenue write-downs, we have had to put in place $150 billion worth of savings in our budget.

Mr Hockey: I rise on a point of order. It goes to relevance. The question was: when did the Treasurer decide to abandon his commitment to a surplus? I did not ask him for a history lesson on the GFC. Answer the question, please.

The SPEAKER: The member for North Sydney will resume his seat. The Treasurer has the call.

Mr SWAN: So we brought down the mid-year budget update nine days ago. In that budget update we forecast coming back to surplus in 2012-13, and we made $16 billion worth of savings. We made those because there were further revenue write-downs which hit our budget. But in an economy which is growing at around trend, in an economy which has contained inflation, in an economy where there is a very substantial investment pipeline, it is entirely appropriate in those economic conditions to come back to surplus.

That is why we put in place savings—tough savings—which are not supported by those opposite. Those opposite come in here and cry crocodile tears about a surplus but are not prepared to support any savings in this House which will bring our budget back to surplus. So the test is for them. A $70 billion crater in their budget bottom line was announced on breakfast TV, sitting beside the minister for the environment—

The SPEAKER: The Treasurer will return to the question.

Mr SWAN: We are putting in place the savings to bring our budget back to surplus. What this question proves is how unfit for high office the opposition are. They have no understanding of the economy, no understanding of the basic economic facts—

The SPEAKER: The Treasurer will return to the question.

Mr SWAN: and all they can run are negative scare campaigns.