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Wednesday, 13 March 2013
Page: 1921

Budget


Mr ABBOTT (WarringahLeader of the Opposition) (14:48): My question is to the Prime Minister. Earlier today in response to my question about border protection blow-outs, the Prime Minister said that the forward estimates figure was produced by 'public sector professionals'. Yet last month the Secretary of the Department of Finance and Deregulation said that the forward estimates were 'a decision of government'. I ask again: how can the Prime Minister justify their decision to reduce the forward estimates when border protection costs are blowing out and arrivals are at record levels? (Time expired)


Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (14:49): Once again the Leader of the Opposition shows his ignorance of the basic workings of government and budgeting. Of course the government makes decisions about budgets—of course we do and we always will. We made a decision, for example, to treble the tax-free threshold. The Leader of the Opposition says no, that people should pay more tax. We made a decision to give a schoolkids bonus. The Leader of the Opposition says people should not get those benefits, and it goes on and on. The Leader of the Opposition ought also to be aware that as government's make decisions about priorities of the nation they work with public servants to generate and assist with budget estimates and budget forecasts. For example, no-one in the Howard government and certainly not the Leader of the Opposition puzzled through what expenditure Medicare would have if he made a certain decision about bulk-billing rates that was modelled for him. We work in the same way with our professional public servants. That is what my statement meant. It is self-evident to anybody who has the slightest regard for the way in which government works. Obviously the Leader of the Opposition does not.

Mr Abbott: Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order as to direct relevance. How can the Prime Minister justify her reduction of the forward estimates when boat arrivals are increasing—

The SPEAKER: The Leader of the Opposition will resume his seat. The Manager of Government Business will resume his seat. The Prime Minister has concluded her answer.