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Monday, 9 December 2013
Page: 1975

Mr CIOBO (MoncrieffParliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer) (17:09): I move:

That the further amendments, including an amendment of the title, be agreed to.

Madam Speaker, if you ever needed a more clear demonstration of how the Australian Labor Party have dealt themselves out of this debate, of how the Australian Labor Party have lost any credibility at all when it comes to this debate, then you just saw it when the Greens and the two Independents walked to this side of the chamber. By walking from there to this side of the chamber, they demonstrated that they were willing to put economic orthodoxy on the table. It stands in contrast to the new economic fringe dwellers, which is the Australian Labor Party.

I have heard members of the Australian Labor Party claim repeatedly that they could not understand why the debt ceiling of more than $400 billion needed to go. They did not understand why there needed to be a debt ceiling of $500 billion, which was of course the first call that the coalition made. The reason—and it is really not that complicated—is that, as was attested to by members of the Australian Labor Party, peak debt under Labor was forecast to reach $370 billion. We know from the tabled Australian Office of Financial Management minute that you need a $60 billion buffer. Let me go very slowly through it for the benefit of the Australian Labor Party: 370 plus 60 equals 430. I will break it down again: 370 plus 60 equals 430. So there you go, Madam Speaker, there is the great riddle that the Australian Labor Party cannot work out.

When the Australian Labor Party say with their hands on their heart, 'Oh, we only want it to go up to $400 billion,' let them now understand why. It is because 370 plus 60 equals 430. So I say to the Australian Labor Party that is the reason your $400 billion was nothing other than a political gimmick and that is the reason we walked away from it. When we could not get any agreement from the Australian Labor Party, we spoke to the Greens—and guess what? The Greens were the sensible ones who were willing to recognise the best way forward and what was clearly in Australia's national interest.

Opposition members interjecting

Mr CIOBO: I now hear Labor members opposite repeatedly making remarks, 'But that's not until 2016.' The extraordinary thing is that Labor still does not get it. They still think it is acceptable to simply kick the can down the road.

Mr Danby interjecting

Mr Sukkar interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Melbourne Ports will desist. The member for Deakin will also desist.

Mr CIOBO: Labor still thinks it is acceptable to say: 'We'll deal with that down the track. We don't want to deal with it now.' I say to members of the Australian Labor Party that that might be how Labor governs but that is not how the coalition governs. That is not our approach. We are not prepared to kick the can down the road. We want to deal with the issue once and we want to deal with it in a way that provides certainty to the economic markets and that does not invite in the kind of Tea Party politics that the Australian Labor Party so warmly embrace.

I never really thought that the member for Melbourne Ports would necessarily be someone who would embrace Tea Party politics, but he is. Like all the members of the Australian Labor Party, he is willing to jeopardise Australia's national interest on short-term political opportunism. So, for that reason, we were willing to talk to anybody else who was willing to put the national interest first. Lo and behold, the Greens were willing to put Australia's national interest first—and that stands in contrast to the Labor Party.

What the Senate has proposed and what we have agreed on with the Greens is a number of measures to enhance transparency around government debt reporting in the budget papers—in particular, there will be a debt statement published in every budget, in every Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook and in every pre-election economic and fiscal outlook. In addition, the debt statements will include information about Commonwealth stock and securities on issue at the time of the report for the financial year to which the report relates and for the following three financial years; the value of the Commonwealth's stock and securities, including the market and face value and their value as a proportion of GDP; the total expected interest expenses relating to the stock and securities; and a breakdown by maturity interest payments of the stock and securities on issue at the time of the report. An additional debt statement would also be published should debt increase by $50 billion or more since the last debt statement or additional statement was made.

The amendments that have been put forward are good amendments. The Senate recognises these amendments in a spirit of putting Australia's national interest first, of advancing our national interest and of providing certainty and stability, which stands in contrast to the juvenile approach that we have seen from the Australian Labor Party.