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Thursday, 18 November 2010
Page: 1684

Senator CORMANN (6:01 PM) —I move:

That the Senate take note of the document.

I take note of the Final budget outcome 2009-10 report presented by the Treasurer, Mr Swan, and the Minister for Finance and Deregulation, Senator Wong. That is the budget that delivered Australia a record deficit of $54.8 billion. It is the budget that continued the track record of reckless spending, higher taxes and more debt. In Australia we are now in a situation where we are looking at $94 billion worth of net debt. We have experienced more than $40 billion in new and increased taxes over three budgets. We have a government that is so dishonest with the Australian people that Wayne Swan, the Treasurer, and the finance minister, Senator Wong, would go out in the media, in the lead-up to the election and since the election, and claim $83.6 billion worth of savings over the last three budgets, when more than half of those claimed savings were tax increases and revenue measures. This government would not know a spending cut if it fell over one. This government does not know how to make a hard decision.

The problem really starts at the top. Wayne Swan is a Treasurer who does not do his homework. Wayne Swan is a Treasurer who gets it wrong. He is the Treasurer who told us that the resource super profits tax would raise $12 billion—oops!—only to have to fess up a couple of weeks later that the tax would have raised $24 billion. Every time Wayne Swan gets something wrong—every time he stuffs up—he has to cover it up. He has to duck for cover and we get this incredible secrecy from the Treasury portfolio.

Today we have had a debate in relation to the proposed GST takeover by the Commonwealth of revenue from the states. Again, Wayne Swan has not been doing his homework. He is not being truthful with the Australian people. This proposed takeover of a third of the GST is just another lazy cash grab by a Labor government always desperate to cast around for more cash. They are always looking for more money to spend. They are not spending the money that they currently have responsibility for all that well, so I am not sure why we would trust them with more money.

But let’s leave that to one side. Wayne Swan, in his incoming government brief, was told by the Treasury, unequivocally, that in order to implement his proposed takeover of a third of the GST from the states and territories—changing the GST agreement that was entered into in good faith by the then Prime Minister Howard and all of the premiers and chief ministers at the time—he needs unanimous agreement from all states and territories. Guess what? He has not got it. The state government in Western Australia is opposed to the deal. The state government in Western Australia is opposed to a change in the GST agreement. The state government in Western Australia is opposed to handing over its GST. It is in favour of health reform, as a lot of the state oppositions are. Of course, we on this side of the chamber are in favour of good health reform as well, but this GST takeover has never been about health. This is about $50 billion in additional revenue for a government that is always casting around for more cash. After more than $40 billion in additional taxes—new and increased taxes—and after $94 billion worth of debt, this government wants to get hold of another $50 billion worth of revenue, this time at the expense of the states and territories.

Today at question time the Treasurer, Wayne Swan, said, ‘Look, we’ve been open and up-front all along about how much of the GST revenue would have to be contributed by each individual state.’ Well, let me beg to differ. In the budget in May there was not one little bit of information. There was no breakdown at all about how much of the revenue would come from each individual state. In the Treasurer’s second reading speech two weeks ago all he was able to say was that one third of the GST revenue would be transferred to the Commonwealth. In MYEFO, the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook, just over a week ago, we got some of the detail. I am not sure that we can trust the detail, because with this government the devil is always in the detail. What does MYEFO show? It shows that the contribution from individual jurisdictions will vary from 15 per cent in the Northern Territory to 51 per cent in the ACT and 40 to 44 per cent in Queensland. If Treasurer Wayne Swan knew about this when he introduced the legislation, why didn’t he tell the parliament when he made his second reading speech two weeks ago? The reality is that this is a government that is all over the place. Wayne Swan is a Treasurer that does not do his homework. He gets it wrong, and when he gets it wrong he has to cover things up.

Question agreed to.