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Monday, 18 March 2013
Page: 2475


Mr HAYES (Fowler) (11:52): I congratulate the member for Fraser in bringing this important notice of motion to the attention of the House. I am a little disappointed that those opposite, particularly after my good friend Craig Kelly's speech, are not standing up and supporting this. If you think that all cards should be put on the table, if that is what the submission is to this House, I actually agree. We do want to see all cards put on the table. We want to see what the spending requirements are, how people are going to make their pledges as we go forward to the next election and how they are going to be costed and delivered into reality in this place. Therefore I think the member for Fraser has done well in bringing this motion to us for our attention.

The Parliamentary Budget Office is a relatively new organisation which is providing independent and non-partisan analysis throughout the budget cycle of fiscal policy and also the financial implications of all proposals. As we move to the election, those opposite should take note that this is something that all parties, government and opposition, should be required to use in order to have their policies properly costed as well as assessed for the impact they will have on fiscal management. So far the Parliamentary Budget Office has performed exceptionally well in terms of its post-budget reports on election commitments of the parties, drawing attention to their impact on the budget's bottom line. So people cannot come in here and trash the Parliamentary Budget Office and talk about the carbon tax and the minerals resource rent tax as a justification for why they should not have some independent assessment of policies that parties are putting forward for government in the next term. It is just an inconsistency. The idea of having an independent assessor looking at spending and tax policies and providing a post-budget audit is something that ensures transparency and fiscal responsibility of political parties as election time comes around.

This should be something which is seen to be good for our democracy. Gone are the days when people could pork-barrel and make promises which were unsustainable and which they could not keep. Clearly, things will arise from time to time as to why things ought to be taken off the table, but people and parties should be held to account. You cannot do what the Liberals and the Nationals did last election and come out and say, 'We're not going to use the Parliamentary Budget Office because we do not trust them. We think they're compromised public servants.' The ones who were dealing with the Treasury in those days had a bloke called Godwin Grech, their trusted insider in Treasury who was giving them advice, and look where it got them.

Look what they did instead: they opted for appointing their own auditor. That is certainly different from having a parliamentary budget office. Normally auditors have to confine themselves to operating under professional standards, but the auditor they secured was found to breach the professional standards of accounting in preparing the audit. That is what they relied on and then we discovered they had an $11 billion black hole, which was pretty unsettling. And had they been successful in winning government, they would have been struggling to find a cure for that black hole.

If you look at what has occurred recently—and I know there is some difference between the Leader of the Opposition and the shadow Treasurer on this—you see that the Leader of the Opposition is saying, 'We're going to maintain all those compensations which flowed out of a carbon tax; we're going to maintain tripling the tax-free threshold'—but that is not the position of the opposition Treasurer. If that is correct, even the shadow Treasurer says that there is now a $70 billion black hole that is going to have to be filled. With due respect to Joe on this, he says, 'We're going to have to slash and burn to find savings to fix the $70 billion black hole.' We are indebted to him for being honest about that, but you cannot front up and do what they did last time, and simply thumb their noses at the democratic processes in this place, and say, simply, 'Trust us because we'll get it right.' Last time they did not; they were $11 billion short.