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Wednesday, 4 December 2013
Page: 1601


Mr McCORMACK (RiverinaParliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance) (15:35): The member for Chifley should have more respect for the National Party. But let us start with the federal member for McMahon, whose matter of public importance this is today. The member for McMahon, who is also the shadow Treasurer—on his letterhead, he uses the word 'leadership'—just told me that he actually never had the GrainCorp issue across his desk. But I put it to him that he did. I put it to him that he was too cowardly to actually answer it; and, if that is wrong, he will get up and make a personal explanation when I finish. But I doubt it. But he is an absolute amateur when it comes to the lily-livered member for Lilley, who, in his 2012-13 budget speech—

Mr Bowen: Mr Deputy Speaker, on a point of order: I am very relaxed about what the honourable member said about me, but he should withdraw the assertion about the member for Lilley.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Hon. BC Scott ): The parliamentary secretary will withdraw that comment.

Mr McCORMACK: I withdraw. That just proves, though, that—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: No, the member will—

Mr McCORMACK: I withdraw, unreservedly and unequivocally. But that just proves that the GrainCorp issue did come across his desk and that he was too cowardly to deal with it—

Mr Bowen interjecting

Mr McCORMACK: Well, you never approved it, you never did anything with it, and that is just the point. Your side, in government, never did anything with anything, apart from rack up a huge debt. Now, we go to the budget speech by the member for Lilley, when he was Treasurer, in 2012-13. This is from his budget speech on 8 May 2012, and he says:

The four years of surpluses I announce tonight are a powerful endorsement of the strength of our economy, resilience of our people, and success of our policies.

Moving on 12 months, the following year he says:

Speaker, because of our deep commitment to jobs and growth we have taken the responsible course to delay the return to surplus, and due to a savage hit to tax receipts there will be a deficit of $18 billion in 2013-14.

It just kept going on and on, because while there might have been $18 billion earlier this year, it then became more and more and we ended up inheriting $370 billion worth of debt. That is why today we have to increase the debt ceiling—not because we want to, not because the Australian people want us to but because of the abject failure of people on that side. The member for McMahon was responsible in part. I will not say he was entirely responsible, because he got the job of Treasurer only when there was so much backstabbing on the Labor side that he ended up with the job. Nobody else wanted it. Having failed with the boats policy, they gave him a job as Treasurer and said: 'You couldn't do a worse job than the member for Lilley. You've done such a bad job with boats. Try this portfolio,' and he mucked that up, too.

The government is getting on with the business of dealing with the legacy of debt we inherited from Labor. Labor knew that the debt limit would need to be increased again but did not have the courage. Just like the member for McMahon did not have the courage with GrainCorp, they did not have the courage to do so in the lead-up to the election. The member for Lilley said on 3AW on 15 May, when he was still Treasurer, that 'Increasing the debt limit will be a matter for them.' Who was he referring to? He was referring to us, of course. He had already waved the white flag. After the election, Labor squibbed it and focused on what seemed to be their core business. What was the core business of Labor, do you think, in the last parliament? Fighting among themselves, executing prime ministers, squabbling over the scraps of who might be sitting on the front bench. Meanwhile, Australia was going down the gurgler. Meanwhile, our debt was going up and up. Uncertainty for families and for businesses mattered not to Labor. All they were interested in was just seeing who was going to knife whom.

Why is this such a big debt? We can refer to the Little Book of Big Labor Waste. We had immigration, the boats plan, with a $1.2 billion blow-out. I see the member for McMahon looking across wondering what document this is. I will table it, if you like. Building the Education Revolution, $8 billion wasted; political advertising, $100 million; national broadband blow-outs—who knows how much that is going to cost? Computers in school blew out by a massive $1.4 billion; green loans were eventually dumped after three independent reports found extensive mismanagement; the solar homes program, an $850 million blow-out; $54.25 million dollars was wasted on operational expenses in the Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute; it just goes on and on. If you like, I will table the document so that the member for McMahon can read it a little later when he gets over his cowardly performance about GrainCorp. The debt ceiling does need to be increased. It is unfortunate that it needs to be increased because of the waste that you blokes racked up. (Time expired)