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Wednesday, 13 November 2013
Page: 219

Mr HAWKE (Mitchell) (19:35): I think we finally have a few explanations, after listening to the member for Melbourne's contribution to this debate. If he thinks the Greens vote is sitting at about 20 per cent in Australia following the last election, then there is a good explanation as to why he does not understand why we need to lift the debt limit to $500 million.

Mr Bandt interjecting

Mr HAWKE: Well, you keep using the figure of 20 per cent. If the member for Melbourne represents economic orthodoxy, then I confess to being a radical evangelical—praise God!—because I do not believe the Greens could be associated with economic orthodoxy. In this debate the Labor Party has been completely disingenuous. We have seen the shadow Treasurer come in here and say, 'We're increasing the limit,' and the member for Melbourne back him up and say, 'What are the arguments? Why do we need to increase the debt limit? This money hasn't been spent already.' Well, Member for Melbourne, the forecasts already show us that this debt will peak past the debt limit already; the money has been spent. It is not for the government to show what we will spend the money on; the money has already been spent by your coalition partners in government, the Labor Party. The money has gone; the horse has bolted; you cannot shut the gate.

Mr Perrett interjecting

Mr HAWKE: Hearing a lecture on economics from the member for Melbourne is bad enough. If you can be the world's best Treasurer, the member for Lilley, you have certainly got a lot of economic advisers on the backbench; but I do take umbrage at getting economics lectures from the member for Moreton, who is continuously interjecting, 'Why does the Reserve Bank need a reserve fund?' Don't give up your day job, member for Moreton, because you are certainly not going to make an economic adviser!

The facts of this debate are that the Labor Party created the debt, they created the debt ceiling, and they busted through that ceiling over four times. And now the Labor Party is getting in the way of the people that have been elected to fix the debt problem that it created.

Opposition members interjecting

Mr HAWKE: You created the problem, you created the ceiling, you busted the ceiling, and now you're trying to tell us that we cannot do our job—that is, responsibly manage the economy and bring us back from your high debt levels. What are the arguments; what is the principal argument? What is this really all about? The shadow Treasurer is telling us that he will approve $400 billion. We are going to go past $400 billion, shadow Treasurer. It won't be enough.

Mr Bowen: When?

Mr HAWKE: We do not know when, but it is forecast to be quite soon. We will go past $400 billion. The principal argument that we are having here is about a buffer. The Labor Party is pretending that there is no need for a buffer—fully in defiance of the advice from Treasury and the advice that the government has received. A buffer is essential. A buffer must be given to a government, because we don't know the state of the world economy and we don't know how the situation will change—a buffer is necessary. We already know it is going to be $430 billion. The advice is, a buffer must be there for the government to do—

Mr Perrett: Not $70 billion!

Mr HAWKE: Yes, a buffer; $70 billion is about right. That is what you need. So $500 billion is a reasonable request for this government to make, given the context of the budget mismanagement that you have put together.

Opposition members interjecting

Mr HAWKE: And it is galling for you to be sitting here lecturing us on economics. It is galling for the member for Melbourne to be lecturing us on economics. You have created this problem. This is a problem of your making. For the shadow Treasurer to say that Labor has approved an increase just to $400 billion is, I think, completely disingenuous and rude to the Australian people. I think the Australian people are going to see through this debate. Talk about Tea Party tactics—I mean, this is a Tea Party tactic. I have got a newsflash for you. You have been studying over the break because this is exactly what the Tea Party would do in the United States—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! The member for Mitchell will listen to my explanation for a moment. I have been giving a lot of leniency to a number of members today. This is a general comment for all members in this chamber. Would you desist from referring to the occupant of the chair as 'you'? It is not me; you are speaking through and not at the occupant of the Speaker's chair. It is a common habit. It is not good and it is not parliamentary practice. It is very disrespectful to the occupant of this chair.

Mr HAWKE: Mr Deputy Speaker, I want to put on the record that I regard you as a model of fiscal rectitude. But I do not regard the Australian Labor Party that way, and certainly not the Greens. It is offensive for them to lecture us and say that they are lifting the debt ceiling when, quite clearly, they are deliberately using a Tea Party tactic here to attempt to spike our early days in government. The Australian people will see through it, and we see through what is going on here, Mr Deputy Speaker.