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Thursday, 22 March 2012
Page: 4006


Mr HOCKEY (North Sydney) (14:00): My question is to the Treasurer. At the time of the last budget the Treasurer promised Australians that the deficit would be $23 billion. It is now expected to be at least $37 billion, a deterioration of $14 billion. At the last budget the Treasurer promised the government's net debt would peak at $107 billion. It is now expected to be at least $136 billion, a deterioration of at least $29 billion. Why should we believe that this year's promises on budget night will be any more believable than last year's promises?

The SPEAKER: I am reflecting on whether the question is in order. Although I am troubled by it, I will allow it.

Mr SWAN (LilleyDeputy Prime Minister and Treasurer) (14:01): I would like to make a couple of points. We have a AAA credit rating from the three major financial credit rating agencies globally for the first time in our history. We came through the global financial crisis in better shape than any other advanced economy. We have a strong economy. But, of course, as a consequence of the global financial crisis, the floods in Queensland and events in Europe, there has been a dramatic impact on our budget bottom line.

Those opposite come into this House and talk down our economy and pretend that the global financial crisis and the global recession never happened. That is what they pretend. They pretend that there has been no impact on our budget revenues, which have been written down by $140 billion over five years. They want the public of Australia to somehow believe that that never happened. Well, the fact is that it did happen.

The SPEAKER: Order! The Treasurer will return to the substance of the question.

Mr SWAN: The consequence of that is that we have been running a deficit. But we have been putting in place strict fiscal discipline to come back to surplus. This has been recognised by the OECD and most particularly by the IMF, who have said that the Australian government's fiscal discipline it is an example for the rest of the world. While the IMF, the OECD, the World Bank and other agencies recognise that in the circumstances no other government in the Western world has done a better job than Australia, those opposite come into this House and trash our economy and our public finances with questions like the one we have heard today.

The SPEAKER: Order! The Treasurer will return to the substance of the question asked by the honourable member for North Sydney.

Mr SWAN: I am coming to the substance of the question. The reason we have a deficit is that revenues have been written down. It is not because, as those opposite allege, we are somehow out there on a spending spree. We have supported employment and small business in our economy. We have done it with a responsible fiscal policy that has given us an economy that is the envy of the world. Everybody on this side of the House is proud of our employment performance and is sick of the trash talking about our economy. (Time expired)

Mr ABBOTT (WarringahLeader of the Opposition) (14:04): Mr Speaker, I ask a supplementary question. As the Treasurer referred to the budget, I ask him: will he rule out new or increased taxes or reduced rebates in the upcoming budget?

The SPEAKER: The supplementary question is not in order. I rule it out of order.

Mr Pyne: Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I would ask you to clarify how that supplementary question could be out of order given it referred to a statement the Treasurer made in his primary answer and is about the budget.

The SPEAKER: The Manager of Opposition Business will resume his seat.