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Tuesday, 24 June 2003
Page: 17371

Mr COX (8:46 PM) —I want to respond to one thing that the parliamentary secretary said in that last set of remarks—and that was his reference to the government's record in reducing net government debt. The actual figure for reduction in net government debt by this government is $63 billion. I point out to the parliamentary secretary that that was predominantly achieved by asset sales with a total value of $55 billion. This government's performance in reducing net government debt has to be seen in that light. If you go carefully through the list of asset sales that this government has made—and I refer particularly to some of the non-financial assets such as government buildings in the parliamentary precinct and elsewhere—you will find that there have been appalling deals in business terms. Those deals have been done for ideological reasons with the simple purpose of creating a cosmetic effect of reducing net government debt. They will have very large ongoing costs to Australian taxpayers in the form of very high rental streams over future years and we will all be paying extra tax as a result of that method of paying down our debt. I do not think Australians should forget it.

Question agreed to.