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Tuesday, 30 October 2012
Page: 12546


Mr HOCKEY (North Sydney) (14:50): My question is to the Treasurer. I remind the Treasurer that he was asked this question just last week: 'Were there to be a further deterioration in commodity prices while the economy is still growing at trend, would you undertake further savings measures to ensure that a surplus is preserved?' The Treasurer responded, 'No.' When did the Treasurer decide to start crab-walking away from his solemn commitment—his honest promise—to deliver a surplus in 2012-13?

Mr SWAN (LilleyDeputy Prime Minister and Treasurer) (14:50): I have already been through in some detail the MYEFO forecasts and how the government supports those forecasts and is determined to meet them by putting in place the savings to bring the budget back to surplus in 2012-13. We are making more than $16 billion of savings in the face of very substantial revenue write downs. What I said right through last week and what I have said this week is that we will always put in place the appropriate fiscal settings to support jobs and growth in our economy. That is the point that I made last week and that is the point that I am making again today. When you have an economy that is growing around trend, that has low unemployment, that has a very substantial investment pipeline, that has low interest rates and that has contained inflation that is precisely what we should be doing and that is what we are doing.

But the importance of that fiscal policy is not understood by those opposite, because what they have actually got is a $70 billion crater in their budget bottom line, and they are acutely embarrassed by that fact.

Mr Pyne: On a point of order, the Treasurer was asked why he is crab-walking away from the surplus commitments he has been making, and now he is straying far from the question he was asked.

The SPEAKER: The Manager of Opposition Business will resume his seat. The Treasurer has the call.

Mr SWAN: What I have been doing is outlining our commitment to good, firm fiscal policy, and it is not a commitment that is shared by those opposite, because they have a $70 billion crater in their budget bottom line and they have form: an $11 billion hole in the estimates they took to the last election—they had a company that was fined for professional misconduct during that campaign. And we have seen more of that professional misconduct through the life of this parliament by their refusal, when they say they have all their policies ready, to take them over to the Parliamentary Budget Office and have them costed.

The fact is that we are implementing good fiscal policy that supports jobs and growth in the Australian economy, and at every turn we are opposed by those opposite, who are completely reckless and day after day after day talk our economy down. We will get on with the job of making the savings, coming back to surplus and supporting the forecast we have put in place through the mid-year budget update. But what we will not see from them is a commitment to the same fiscal policy by their giving support in this House for our savings.