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Wednesday, 21 March 2012
Page: 3765


Dr JENSEN (Tangney) (14:52): My question is to the Treasurer. I refer the Treasurer to the blow-out in this year's forecast budget deficit from $13 billion in the 2010 budget to $23 billion in the 2011 budget to $37 billion in the 2011 MYEFO. Why should Australians believe anything said by this government on budget night when forecasts of this year's budget deficit have blown out by 184 per cent in just 18 months?

Mr SWAN (LilleyDeputy Prime Minister and Treasurer) (14:53): I do welcome that question because we hear questions like this, and points made like this, from those opposite all the time—talking down our economy every day, every week and every year. The fact is that our public finances are in the best shape of any developed economy in the world.

Opposition members interjecting

Mr SWAN: I know that they guffaw, but the truth is this: they like to come into this House and pretend there is nothing like a global financial crisis or a global recession.

The SPEAKER: Order! The Treasurer will answer the question.

Mr SWAN: As a consequence of the global financial crisis, and the global recession, we have written down our revenues by $140 billion over the forward estimates.

Mr Hockey: This year! This year! We're asking about this year!

The SPEAKER: The honourable member for North Sydney will remain silent for the balance of this answer.

Mr SWAN: One hundred and forty billion dollars has been written down over the forward estimates, and in the mid-year budget review last November we wrote them down by $20 billion, coming to $140 billion over the forward estimates—and that is why we are in deficit. We are in deficit because we moved to support our economy, during a global recession, to keep the doors of small business open and to keep Australian workers in their jobs. We have behaved completely—

Mr Abbott: Mr Speaker, on a point of order—it was a very simple question: how could the government get the figures wrong four times in a single year? And the Treasurer should be directly relevant to that question.

The SPEAKER: I am sure the Treasurer is going to address the specifics of this very narrow question.

Mr SWAN: I have been addressing the very narrow question. The reason that we have had these outcomes is revenue write-downs. We are currently engaged in the fastest fiscal consolidation in our history to bring our budget back to surplus in 2012-13.

Mr Dutton interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Dickson will remain silent.

Mr SWAN: The reason we have deficits is that revenues have been weak. But they choose to stick their heads in the sand and not understand the most basic elements of macroeconomics. It just shows how unqualified they are for government in this country.