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Wednesday, 13 November 2013
Page: 158


Mr HUSIC (Chifley) (15:01): My question is to the Treasurer. I refer the Treasurer to today's Financial Review, which reports economist Saul Eslake as saying:

… $400 billion would be sufficient if Mr Hockey was successful at returning a surplus by 2016-17 and avoided blowing out the deficit in the interim "as much as he’s done so far".

Will the Treasurer advise that he will not return to surplus by 2016-17, given that he is now seeking a debt limit of half a trillion dollars?

Mr HOCKEY (North SydneyThe Treasurer) (15:02): They have got chutzpah—they really do—and I tell you why. Labor do not know what a surplus looks like. Labor have never delivered a surplus. Oh, hang on! They did. They delivered a surplus well before my colleague Wyatt Roy was born! That is a long time ago. So now, having promised on over 500 occasions to deliver a surplus, Labor are indignant and say from opposition that they can deliver a surplus. That is quite an achievement. They could not do it in government but now the Labor Party are going to do it in opposition.

I was thinking to myself: who can you trust about delivering a surplus, given that the coalition has previously done the heavy lifting? When Labor were last in government—before the last time—they left us with $96 billion of debt; they left us with the legendary Beazley black hole. They have now left us with at least $370 billion of debt and the Bowen black hole. But it gets better. The fact of the matter is that, as we open every cupboard across the government, we find more spiders. We discover that the Reserve Bank Reserve Fund is down to just 3.8 per cent. When we have, possibly, significant headwinds next year, out of Europe and the United States, we will have to fix them. And, when we find that the ACCC has been running at a loss for four years and is going to run out of money by April next year because the Labor Party did not give it the funding to do a full year of work, you would say there is something wrong about that and that someone has got to fix it. And, as the Minister for Health and all the other ministers know, as we open up every cupboard we discover that Labor just fibbed about the state of the books. What a surprise! It goes to trust.

And no-one summarises it better than Bruce Hawker. And I promise that this will be the only time that I quote Bruce Hawker. Remember him? The member for Griffith remembers him and a few others remember him. I was not spending a lot of time reading his book called The Rudd Rebellion, but I did. He said:

Chris Bowen had gone on Lateline last night and run the 'Who do you trust?' line (on instructions from CHQ)—

that is, campaign headquarters—

and I realised how ridiculous it sounded. After the last three years, we would be lucky to be trusted to walk the dog around the block …