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Thursday, 14 November 2013
Page: 349

Mr HOCKEY (North SydneyThe Treasurer) (15:46): I move:

That the amendment be disagreed to.

The opposition and the Greens have said there is no compelling evidence to have a debt limit of $500 billion and that, rather, there should be a debt limit of $400 billion. I table today the economic statement from the member for McMahon that says debt is going to peak at $370 billion. I table today the executive minute from the Australian Office of Financial Management that says that it would be 'prudent from an operational perspective to set it'—the debt cap—'at a level $40 billion to $60 billion higher—

Ms Owens interjecting

Mr HOCKEY: than the peak projected within year CGS'.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Hon. BC Scott ): The member for Parramatta is grossly disorderly.

Mr HOCKEY: Three hundred and seventy plus 60 equals 430—$430 billion.

Ms Owens interjecting

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Member for Parramatta, you are interjecting outside of your place in this chamber.

Mr HOCKEY: I further add the point that the Labor Party has now declared it is voting against our mining tax repeal package, which reduces the debt by $13½ billion. The opposition have said that they are going to oppose our abolition of the CEFC, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, which also reduces the debt. The total of the mining tax and CEFC abolition is going to reduce the debt by $20 billion, so that adds $20 billion. The Labor Party failed to deal with the challenges at the Reserve Bank and we had to borrow $8.8 billion to go into that. When you add it all up—and it is on the public record—that well exceeds $400 billion. That is a legacy of Labor.

But wait—there's more. As the Reserve Bank identified only last week, growth figures for next year are being downgraded, which will have a negative impact on revenues, which will have a negative impact on the budget. But wait—there's more. As you open each cupboard door in relation to the budget—whether it be the ACCC or one of any number of other areas which will soon be identified and revealed—you will find that $500 billion, including a cap, is the appropriate level to deal with the legacy of Labor debt.

The thing is that, whenever the Labor Party released an economic statement, they got the numbers wrong—absolutely wrong. We will not do that. We will not release the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook until the September national accounts have come in, at the beginning of December. What a revelation that is! The Labor Party always tended to release those figures before they had released the September national accounts, and that is one of the reasons why they always got the numbers wrong. So we are taking the prudent approach. We are fixing up the mess. We are identifying right across the budget where the problems are. We are dealing with the legacy of Labor's debt. It is all on the public record. This chamber is the public record. Now the challenge is for the Labor Party to deal with it.

The Labor Party are running around saying that under the Abbott opposition we opposed increasing the debt limit. They are just dead wrong. I know the member for McMahon was never actually in the Senate, but what he does not understand is that we did move a procedural motion in the Senate to separate out the debate on the debt limit but it was rejected by the Senate. It was a procedural motion. We never voted against the debt limit. If Labor did not understand the challenges in relation to the debt limit when they were in government, how can we expect them to understand the challenges from opposition?

I am saying this to the Labor Party: on 12 December Australia reaches the $300 billion debt limit that Labor left. The Senate is going to have a bill before it to have the debt limit increased to $500 billion. That is Labor's legacy. The $500 billion is not a target; it is a limit. We do not want to get there, but I tell you what: we are not going to put the stability of the markets and the stability of the CGS program at risk as a result of Labor's incompetence in opposition.