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Tuesday, 12 May 1987
Page: 2973

Mr KEOGH —Madam Speaker, my question is directed to the Treasurer--

Opposition members interjecting-

Madam SPEAKER —Order! The House will come to order.

Mr Beale interjecting-

Madam SPEAKER —Order! Will the honourable member for Bowman please resume his seat. The Chair has twice asked the honourable member for Deakin to stop interjecting; the honourable member ignored the Chair because he was so busy interjecting he could not hear me. I am asking the honourable member now to stop interjecting, and I call for order on both sides of the House.

Mr McVeigh —Tell us about your pre-selection.

Madam SPEAKER —Order!

Mr KEOGH —I did not want to give members opposite the same opportunity again but it seems that it is too hard for them to resist, Madam Speaker. My question is as follows: Will the Treasurer inform the House of the information that he will be providing when he delivers his May statement on Wednesday evening, so that the House will be able to evaluate properly the changes that are being made to the Government's fiscal policy?

Mr KEATING —The Government will be providing the maximum amount of information for both the House and the nation, and on Wednesday night we will be publishing-as we publish in Budgets but never before in May statements-a full reconciliation table of the Budget accounts. That will show the Forward Estimates for 1987-88, published in December last year, and it will show that they have been reduced as a result of expenditure cuts. This will be the fifth time that the Government has published such a table. But the table provides an enormous discipline on a government. It identifies new policy; it identifies where the savings are coming from by providing the Forward Estimates figures; it shows the full year consequences of savings and the out-year savings; it shows the new policy; and it highlights one-off savings. With such a table there is nowhere for a government to hide. People can see clearly what is going on with government spending. By contrast, I point out that the Leader of the Opposition, when Treasurer, never published the forward Estimates. He conducted phoney savings exercises on forward Estimates that he never allowed people to examine. He never showed people the full year consequences of the disastrous 1982-83 Budget. We were left with a $9.6 billion deficit to pare back.

The Leader of the Opposition, as Treasurer, always took the easy course on public policy. He had no stomach to face the issue squarely. He over valued the exchange rate and he refused to allow the public to properly examine the public accounts. Now, of course, he is prey to the mindless savagery of the New Right and the venal excesses of the Queensland National Party of Australia. As I have said in this House previously, a vote for the Leader of the Opposition is a vote for Joh. The Queensland Premier and the Queensland Government provide almost no information on the public accounts. Borrowings are treated as a receipt and they do not publish a deficit. It is impossible to know what is going on within the Queensland financial accounts. Queensland, of course, is run for the benefit of a few chosen people around the Premier. The Leader of the Opposition, the Queensland Premier and the New Right would undermine our institutions and destroy the fabric of public policy. This born to rule view, which the former Treasurer has, is shown up by the fact that they did not have to face up to issues-that is their view; they did not have to expose their policies to public scrutiny; they never had to publish forward Estimates; they never published reconciliation tables; and they did not publish the out-year effects, the new policy. It was all left in the dark. That is basically where we stand today in respect of the Leader of the Opposition's policies. Yesterday the Leader of the Opposition was quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald as having this to say when asked about the details of his reply--

Mr Spender —On a point of order, Madam Speaker: We have listened now for over two minutes to the Treasurer not answering anything about the information that this Government is going to give but providing a so-called catalogue of what the Opposition has done in government. That is an abuse of Question Time. He knows it is an abuse of Question Time and he should be told to sit down if he will not be relevant.

Madam SPEAKER —The Treasurer will return to the question, please.

Mr KEATING —This Government has provided forward Estimates and full documentation in what are now the Rolls-Royce of Budget accounts around the world.

Opposition members-Ha, ha!

Mr KEATING —Those opposite may laugh, but that is the view of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development officials and International Monetary Fund officials when they look at the national accounts and the financial accounts of many other countries. Yesterday the Leader of the Opposition was reported as follows, when asked about details he would give on his reply on Thursday night:

`The last thing I am going to do is to give a detailed alternative mini-Budget', he told the Herald.

They can just go and get lost over that and so can anyone else who gives such advice.

Mr Carlton —That is right.

Mr KEATING —The honourable member says: `That is right'. In other words, only the Government should sit for the test. We should publish a reconciliation table; we should publish all the hard data; we should take all the hard decisions, but the Leader of the Opposition can slither out and backslide as he did in all his years as Treasurer with no details, no argument, no hard policy and no numbers. As the Leader of the Opposition said before, he has the policies, but no numbers. He might have the policies, but matching the no numbers is no sense.