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Tuesday, 30 October 2012
Page: 12547

Mr HOCKEY (North Sydney) (14:53): I move—

Government members interjecting

Mr HOCKEY: Come on, debate the economy. I move:

That so much of the standing and sessional orders be suspended as would prevent the Member for North Sydney moving immediately:

That this House notes that:

(1) both the Prime Minister and Treasurer have failed to stand by their solemn guarantee to deliver a surplus in the 2012-13 Financial Year;

(2) the Prime Minister gave a guarantee to Laurie Oakes and the Australian people to deliver a surplus in the 2012-13 Financial Year on 13 November 2010;

(3) the Treasurer said three days before the last election on Channel 7’s Sunrise that Labor would deliver a surplus in 2012-13 'come hell or high water';

(4) the Treasurer has committed to delivering a Budget surplus in 2012-13 on over 150 occasions since May 2010;

(5) the inherent contradictions in last week’s MYEFO, including not providing funding for Labor’s promised programs including the Government’s promise to:

(a) deliver the Gonski Education reforms, with not a single dollar to implement these reforms in MYEFO, in fact containing a $3.9 billion hit on education;

(b) deliver the National Disability Insurance Scheme, with not a single dollar, beyond the trials in the Budget, contained in MYEFO, in fact containing a $1.6 billion hit on health;

(c) deliver real action on the Murray Darling Basin, with not a single dollar contained in MYEFO for a plan announced by the Prime Minister on Friday last week; and

(d) implement the outcomes of the Asian Century Whitepaper without any additional money, instead instituting cuts of $500 million to research funding; and

(6) the Treasurer has announced at least 27 new or increased taxes since coming to power, and calls on the Treasurer to rule out any further tax increases.

This is a government that has now reached new heights. Today, the commitment to a surplus became a plan. Today, the Prime Minister said it is on track. Previously, the commitment to a surplus was a wholesome promise—it was a guarantee, it was in the budget. In fact, in 2010, a year that will live on in infamy, the Prime Minister said that the budget would be back in surplus in 2012-13:

Laurie Oakes: Guaranteed?

Prime Minister Gillard: Yes, the budget is coming back to surplus, Laurie, in 2012-13 as promised.

This is why it is urgent.

Three days before the last election the Treasurer said on Sunrise:

TREASURER: Well we’re getting back into surplus in three years, Kochie

KOCH: Ok. Come hell or high water?

TREASURER: Come hell or high water …

In 2011, the Prime Minister said:

… my commitment to a surplus in 2012-13 was a promise made and it will be honoured.

Then, a few days later, the Prime Minister said: 'You cannot run this country if you cannot manage its budget.' Well, the Prime Minister should resign if that is the case. You cannot run this country if you cannot manage its budget. Then, after that, the Prime Minister said: 'It is important for families at this time that the government does not add to inflationary pressures in the economy. That is why it is vital to get the budget back into surplus and back into the black.'

The Treasurer never gave up on his promise. In the budget speech on 10 May 2011 he said:

We'll be back in the black by 2012-13, on time, as promised.

The alternative—meandering back to surplus—would compound the pressures in our economy and push up the cost of living for pensioners and working people.

So, the Treasurer said in this place on budget night, before the Australian people, that 'meandering back to surplus'—that is, avoiding a surplus—will put pressure on our economy and push up the cost of living for pensioners and working people. These weasel words.

We know this: the document that gets the greatest workout in the Prime Minister's office is a thesaurus. Every time, they try to look for a different word to describe a potential surplus. You get your 'promise', you get your 'guarantee', you get your 'commitment', you get your 'road map', you get your 'path' and you get your 'plan'. But this is a government that has not delivered a surplus and I suspect it never will deliver a surplus. It will never deliver an honest surplus because it is fiddling the numbers, and fiddling them writ large.

There is deceit on that side of the House when it comes to the budget, and the government is incapable of telling the truth to the Australian people. It should be held accountable in this place, and the Australian people should be holding it to account for its failure to properly manage the budget. Every single step of the way Labor engages more in spin, more in subterfuge, than it does in being honest and truthful with the Australian people. These are the same taxpayers who are in the gallery, the same taxpayers who are listening to this debate, the same taxpayers who have to repay up to $257 billion of gross debt. They are the same taxpayers who get hit with flood levies, who get hit with the mining tax and the carbon tax. They are the same taxpayers who have faced 26 new or increased taxes since Labor has come into government, the same taxpayers who are facing the intergenerational challenges that Labor is refusing to deal with, particularly in areas like industrial relations and dealing with productivity.

The Labor Party has plans; it has lots of plans. This week it delivered a plan for the Asian century. The only problem was that the plan had no money. I have heard of a tax with no revenue, I have heard of a plan with no money and I have even heard of schools with no students and hospitals with no patients. I have also heard of a government with no credibility. And I have heard of a government and a Treasurer with no honesty—none. They are bereft of honesty, bereft of personal integrity, because they do not have the capacity to stand before the Australian people and be honest. Instead, they held it as a massive badge of honour. They would deliver the surplus. They would turn around the forgotten years of Kevin Rudd. They would turn them all around. It was a government that had lost its way: 'We'll get it back on track; we will deliver a surplus.'

And of course, true to form, Labor has not delivered a surplus since 1989—before the member for Longman was born. The member for Longman was not even born in the time of a Labor surplus. Mobile phones were not even conceived back when Labor last delivered a surplus. But now, rest assured. The Prime Minister says, 'We have a plan.' The Prime Minister says, 'We're on track.' But it is a track going nowhere. It is a track familiar to Burke and Wills; 150 years ago they lost their way. They will find their way to a surplus. Burke and Wills will deliver a surplus at the very same time that the Labor Party will deliver a surplus. We have only been waiting 150 years thus far.

And of course we know they briefed Phil Coorey at the Sydney Morning Herald. Far be it from me to give him a pat on the back for anything, but on this occasion I will break new ground. And I say to you: we know the Treasurer was briefing the Sydney Morning Herald to look at the key components of MYEFO to walk away from a surplus. We know that—deceitfully walking away from a surplus. And in doing so the government has undermined not just its own words but its actions. They claim to have $16 billion of saves this financial year, but 80 per cent of those are increased taxes for the Australian people. That is not a save; that is a punishment.

The Australian people have had enough of the deceit. The Australian people have had enough of the untruths. The Australian people have had enough of promises and plans, commitments—all the other weasel words. The bottom line is that the Labor Party must deliver. It must actually deliver on its words if it is to be trusted. And if we have a government that cannot be trusted, bring on an election and get a government that can be trusted with the nation's economy.