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Tuesday, 24 February 2015
Page: 1107

Social Services

Mr RANDALL (Canning) (15:08): My question is addressed to the Minister for Social Services. Will the minister update the House on the progress of the government's savings measures in social services? What alternatives have been proposed?

Mr MORRISON (CookMinister for Social Services) (15:08): I thank the member for Canning for his question. He will be pleased to know that, in the budget, the government has been successful in getting the real growth in expenditure down from over 3½ per cent to just one per cent. That is an important thing that has to be achieved for the future of other generations in this country, who should not be saddled with a terrible debt. As part of the measures that were put forward, there were a series of savings in the Social Services portfolio. I note that they included $5 billion in savings for adjustments to the family tax benefit, and they included changes that went to the maintaining of existing thresholds and payment rates and adjusting end-of-year supplements.

Ms Macklin interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Jagajaga will desist.

Mr MORRISON: It is true that those opposite have opposed those measures. They have opposed $5 billion worth in those types of measures alone. But, when I go to what they did in government, I read something very different, because in government Labor put through more than $15 billion worth of savings on family tax benefits. What were they in? There was $7 billion in pausing indexation of thresholds and supplements in 2008-09. The member for Lilley will remember that. There was $7 billion worth of savings that came from that. In 2009-10 there was $6 billion worth of savings in indexing the family tax benefit to CPI—something that is considered by those opposite to now be unconscionable. And there was $2½ billion in the 2013-14 budget to cancel payment increases that were going forward. So they opposed $5 billion worth of family tax benefit savings that this government was trying to do to put the budget back on an even keel, but they put through $15 billion when they were in government. And do you know how they were able to do that, Madam Speaker? Because they had an opposition who were prepared to understand the fiscal challenges that the country faced. Now we do not have that in those opposite.

I am asked what the alternatives are that have been put forward. The truth is, from those opposite when it comes to alternative savings, there has been zero—absolutely zero. The Leader of the Opposition has said that this is 'the year of ideas'. There is not a light bulb going off in the head of anyone opposite when it comes to ideas on how to solve the budget. The Leader of the Opposition thinks the year of the idea is about going out to buy flat-pack Swedish furniture somewhere. It is not Ikea; it is ideas! That is what we need. What we know is that the Leader of the Opposition's policy is about unfunded empathy. He runs around the country empathising with every problem. He comes up with not one solution and not one dollar to pay for it. There is not a light bulb over your head, Leader of the Opposition. You have not had an idea in a long time.

Mr Abbott: After that outstanding answer, I ask that further questions be placed on the Notice Paper.