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Monday, 9 December 2013
Page: 1936


Ms MARINO (ForrestGovernment Whip) (14:47): My question is to the Minister for Education. I remind the minister that the higher education support bill contains $2.3 billion in savings measures nominated by the previous government. Can the minister update the House on the progress of the bill and on what impact its failure to pass will have on the federal budget deficit and the Commonwealth's debt position?

Mr PYNE (SturtLeader of the House and Minister for Education) (14:48): I can inform the member for Forrest that, unfortunately for the Higher Education Support Act, the bill is stuck in the Senate while Labor and the Greens continue to refuse to pass it. We are in the ludicrous position in the current parliament where Labor are now voting against the savings measures they proposed whilst in government. They are also voting against increasing the debt ceiling limit. So we have the ridiculous situation where Labor had savings measures that they now oppose. They are adding to the debt limit, they are adding to the deficit and they are voting against the bill to increase the debt ceiling limit. That is how economically illiterate Labor have become.

I notice that Paul Keating the former Prime Minister is in Canberra this week to talk to the caucus about economic matters. I am sure he would have some advice for them, because Labor are tremendously confused at the moment. They are very confused economically. They want to have their cake and they want to eat it too. They want to add to the debt, they want to add to the deficit, they want to vote against savings measures they proposed, and they want to also vote against increasing the debt ceiling limit bill.

We have the ridiculous situation where Labor not only are opposing our program and frustrating the abolition of the carbon tax and the mining tax and savings measures but also voting against their own program when they were in office. No wonder Labor voters are confused. First they are told that Kevin Rudd is the Messiah; then he is the monster. Then they are told, three years later, that Julia Gillard is the Messiah; then they are told that Julia Gillard is not the Messiah but a liability, and they have to go back to the monster.

The SPEAKER: The minister will resume his seat. I call the Manager of Opposition Business.

Mr Burke: Madam Speaker, when someone is as far away from direct relevance as that under standing order 104(a), we should not have to rise on a point of order before that sort of nonsense is brought to heel.

The SPEAKER: I call the honourable the minister and ask him to address his remarks to the question.

Mr PYNE: I will, Madam Speaker, and I am trying to explain so that it is easy for the opposition to see how confusing their position is on the debt ceiling limit bill and on the savings measures that they proposed and that they now oppose. This is but a piece of Labor over the last six years. They are so bad economically and so juvenile economically that they are now making the flat-earth Greens look economically literate. I am hoping that Paul Keating this week might be able to give them some good advice, because Paul Keating was a member of a government—the Hawke government—which actually made a difference to the economy in this country. They would never have proposed the savings measures and then opposed those same savings measures. They would never have said that the debt ceiling limit should not be raised but then voted against measures that would reduce Commonwealth debt. When Mr Keating comes I look forward to his pearls of wisdom informing the Labor caucus about how to be a legitimate and economically literate opposition.