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Tuesday, 14 June 2011
Page: 6008


Mr SHORTEN (MaribyrnongAssistant Treasurer and Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation) (19:57): In amongst the polemic and the diatribe—I have to say demeanour is a little grumpy for the member for Goldstein—

Mr Robb interjecting

Mr SHORTEN: No-one kept the member for Goldstein here. If he did not come well prepared with questions about Appropriation Bill (No. 1), don't blame the government. You asked about structural deficit. You know we do not publish a structural deficit. It is assumption driven and we have not published it—

Mr Robb: You did two years ago.

Mr SHORTEN: You know we have not done it in this budget. You know that to be the case. Let us go to what worries the member for Goldstein and keeps him up at night. He did refer—

Mr Robb: Five questions on the structural deficit; give me one answer.

Mr SHORTEN: We do not publish it. In terms of what the member was saying about—

Mr Robb interjecting

Mr SHORTEN: I am sure the officials are grateful they do not have to work for you. I am sure they notice the difference in the opposition from when the former member for Higgins was there to now.

Mr Robb interjecting

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms S Bird ): The member for Goldstein will remain silent.

Mr SHORTEN: As much as the member for Goldstein wants to single out Commonwealth public servants and start attributing—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The Assistant Treasurer will hold for a moment. There are one and a half minutes left. I will ask the member for Goldstein not to continue interjecting and the minister not to respond to interjections and to use the time that is left.

Mr Andrews interjecting

Mr SHORTEN: The member for Menzies brings his own particular form of charm to the debate. The member for Goldstein, amongst his angry, grumpy rave about how he would rather be somewhere else, did ask about the terms of trade. I draw his attention to our forecasts on page 2-10 of Budget Paper No. 1. We are forecasting it at 19¼ per cent this year. There has been some debate. There was debate in the main chamber about terms of trade, which the member for Casey raised. He asked the Treasurer about the terms of trade. We are forecasting that our terms of trade will reach their highest sustained level in more than 100 years. This is based on the rise of our non-rural commodity exports. We are also forecasting, in 2011-12 and 2012-13, a decline in these terms of trade, obviously as other suppliers around the world come online.

More generally, the shadow finance minister has complained that he has no insight about the budget. He is not even listening to the answer to his own question—very unprofessional. Anyway, perhaps the member for Casey could relay my comments to him, or indeed the member for Menzies. This is the narrative: we are keeping real spending down; we have made tough savings; the opposition, when it was in government, ignored the capacity constraints; our tax-to-GDP ratio is much better than the opposition's tax-to-GDP ratio was when it was in government. We had the global financial crisis. I think there is almost a degree of disappointment on the part of the opposition that our stimulus package, which it opposed, has been so successful. It also opposed our flood levy. We put in a flood levy and found a lot of other money to deal with natural disasters.

We have a fiscal position to create more jobs, to get the budget back into surplus and to spread the benefits of the mining boom. That is the story of the budget. The story of Australia is that we are an economy in transition. This government is best able to handle the economy and the transition to make sure that we get back into surplus, that our children are getting a proper education and that we are investing in skills. We are going to roll out national broadband and we are going to increase superannuation from nine to 12 per cent. Let me again put on record this question: why does the coalition keep opposing increasing mandatory superannuation from nine to 12 per cent when most of those opposite are on a defined benefit or they receive 15 per cent? One should practice what one preaches. I can only assume that when the opposition votes against it for all Australians it will be handing back its own superannuation and reducing it to that which it expects its voters to live on.

Proposed expenditure agreed to.

Human Services Portfolio

Proposed expenditure, $4,203,004,000