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Monday, 24 February 2014
Page: 551


Mr PASIN (Barker) (14:21): My question is to the Treasurer. Will the Treasurer outline the challenges ahead to address Australia's debt and deficit levels? What are the alternative approaches to the management of these budget challenges?

Mr HOCKEY (North SydneyThe Treasurer) (14:21): I thank the member for Barker for his question and recognise that, over the weekend, G20 finance ministers spoke about the challenge of ongoing deficits. It was Korea who said that they are going to have a surplus this year. Korea is going to have a surplus this year. Germany has been running surpluses since 2012. I remember when Wayne Swan promised a surplus. I do not remember when Labor last delivered a surplus.

Mr Abbott: It was 1989.

Government members interjecting

Mr HOCKEY: That was 1989—the year of Roy. The fact is that Labor left us with a $123 billion deficit and debt approaching $667 billion. They made spending commitments that had no money behind them. That was the way that Labor ran the budget.

I turn to that oracle of wisdom about economic policy on the Labor side, the member for Wills. I want him to be on the doors every day. He said this morning:

What we need are economic objectives such as low unemployment, low inflation, low interest rates and a balanced budget. They are the things that people could get excited about.

I want to be at his home for a dinner party on a Saturday night—'They are the things that people could get excited about.'

As for low unemployment, the member for Wills should be asking his colleagues why, after just six years in office, they left the unemployment rate 200,000 people higher—200,000 higher than what they inherited. As for low interest rates and low inflation, you do not have to worry about that too much when you have five out of six years of below trend growth—which is what Labor had. But how about this: there he was on the doors talking about a balanced budget. This is a new concept for Labor—a balanced budget. He said that that is what the people can get excited about. I say to the member for Wills: instead of going to the doors in the morning, why don't you walk down the corridor and go into the Leader of the Opposition's office and just ask him why he is opposing $20 billion of savings in the Senate. Five billion dollars of those savings are what the member for Wills promised to introduce at the last election. You promised to introduce those at the last election and now, like complete A-grade hypocrites, Labor are now opposing their own policies to fix the budget now they have gone into opposition. Do you know the great lesson of opposition? You have to have consistent principles—and I hope the Leader of the Opposition is going to learn that.