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Monday, 25 May 2009
Page: 4061

Mr TURNBULL (Leader of the Opposition) (2:09 PM) —Will the Prime Minister at last level with the Australian people and tell this House the maximum amount of government debt his budget will create, expressed as a sum of money?

Mr RUDD (Prime Minister) —I thank the honourable member for his question. On the question of gross debt, as I indicated in many interviews last week, gross debt peaks at around $300 billion; secondly, net debt peaks at around $200 billion; and, thirdly, I have said repeatedly that net debt rises to about 13.8 per cent of GDP, which to the chagrin of those opposite is the lowest net debt of all the major advanced economies. In fact this is about one-seventh that of the other major advanced economies. What I find remarkable in the debate which the Leader of the Opposition has engaged in on this matter over the last week and beyond is that it does reflect a general strategy on the part of those opposite which is this: they will stop at nothing to talk the economy down. This government have embraced a nation-building strategy for recovery; those opposite are engaged in talking the economy down. The government are in the business of building the economy up; those opposite are in the business of talking the economy down. The reason why we have a positive strategy and they have a negative strategy is that we are acting in the national interest and they are acting in their political interest. The contrast is absolutely clear.

So I would suggest to those opposite that, when they are confronted with developments out there in the economy which actually suggest that Australia is doing better than other economies in the midst of the worst recession in three-quarters of a century, it would be useful if they began talking positively about the economy as well, rather than engaging in one permanent negative diatribe about what is going on out there. The net impact of talking the economy down is to in fact have an effect on confidence and, if you have that effect on confidence, that has an effect on real economic performance. So the contrast is clear for all to see. We stand for a positive strategy, and those opposite are for a negative strategy. We stand for talking the economy up; you stand for talking the economy down. The contrast is clear for all to see.