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Thursday, 19 March 2015
Page: 1968

Senator CONROY (VictoriaDeputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate) (15:13): I also rise to take note of the answers given by the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I do not always agree with the front page of The Australian Financial Review, but today their front page could not have been more accurate when it said, as Senator Wong has shown, 'Abbott loses the plot on debt'. I could not believe it; I texted the journalist and said, 'Are you quoting him directly? Where did he say this?' And he said, 'In a press conference'. So I went and got the transcript, because I could not believe it. He was asked:

… you've resurrected this line that we're heading towards Mediterranean style levels of debt. You mentioned Greece again today …

And he says:

Andrew, there's no cause for alarm under this Government …

Then he goes on to say:

… a ratio of debt to GDP at about 50 or 60 per cent—

which we are going to achieve over time—

is a pretty good result looking around the world …

He says that a 60 per cent ratio of debt to GDP is a pretty good effort compared to the rest of the world!

We only left him with 13 per cent and that was a national emergency. Now he says 60 per cent is fine. Just look at what he has been saying, look at what the government and the previous opposition have been saying over time.

This Prime Minister has been saying Australia is going down the road of Greece, but now he is happy to grow Australia's net debt from 15 per cent to 60 per cent. That is not a bad effort! He said just yesterday, 'Well, yes, under the former Labor government, we were heading to a Greek style economic future.' And yesterday, he told Neil Mitchell on 3AW, 'We're getting down to Greek levels of debt and deficit as a result of Labor's policies.' What an absolute joke this Prime Minister is becoming. I have to tell you, if this is Mr Tony Abbott unplugged then please bring back Peta Credlin because she is vital to the survival of this man. What a joke this man is becoming.

Labor left the coalition with a AAA credit rating and a debt to GDP ratio of 13 per cent, and apparently we were taking us down the path to Greece. No wonder The Australian Financial Review says he has lost the plot. We can see why the Prime Minister's chief of staff has been so critical over the last few years in keeping Mr Tony Abbott in check. Come back, all is forgiven, Peta Credlin. She is desperately getting a government jet to fly to Fiji to get her back in the country! Even Senator Arthur Sinodinos is paying to bring her back early because they just cannot afford to allow this sort of incompetence from the Prime Minister to keep running along!

Due to the hypocritical rhetoric the Prime Minister and the Treasurer have been parading around this country, this government has driven unemployment up. It has business confidence down.

Senator Abetz: Absolute nonsense.

Senator CONROY: I will take that interjection from Senator Abetz, who, as Leader of the Government in the Senate, obviously supports that 60 per cent debt is okay. That is what the Prime Minister said. I am assuming you are supporting him, Senator Abetz? You support him.

You have driven unemployment up. It has gone up since you came to power. You have driven the car industry out of this country. You are trying to give submarine jobs in this country to Japan. Your National Security Committee sat there and every single one of them around the table said 'yes' to the Japan deal. That is what happened. Then you misled Senator Ruston, Senator Edwards and Senator Fawcett. You pretended to them that you were going to look after South Australia. You have absolutely misled them because your National Security Committee did a deal with Japan. You know you cannot deny it because it is true. You cannot deny it.

You have driven unemployment up in this country. You have driven business confidence through the floor. No consumer will spend money. You know what the best way to get GDP growing is? It is by having a responsible budget. (Time expired)