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Tuesday, 8 November 2016
Page: 3142


Mr TED O'BRIEN (Fairfax) (15:03): My question is to the Treasurer. Will the Treasurer update the House on the government's efforts to balance the budget and arrest the debt? Is the Treasurer aware of any alternative approaches that would increase the debt and deficit burden on the Australian taxpayer and threaten our AAA credit rating?

Mr MORRISON (CookTreasurer) (15:03): I thank the member for Fairfax for his question and for the experience he brings to this House on economic matters. Under the six budgets of the previous government, real growth and expenditure on average was 4.2 per cent a year. From our first government budget, that real growth and expenditure has been just 1½ per cent. That has been a significant curtailing of real growth in expenditure, which is working towards the sustainability of the government's budget, moving forward.

We are restoring the budget to balance and we are doing that by getting expenditure under control and by implementing policies that drive investment and drive the earnings capability of our economy. This will ensure that revenues can be lifted and that we can have a sustainable budget, over time, to support the important services in health, education and infrastructure that are so necessary.

At the last election, we had $40 billion worth of budget improvement measures that we were up-front with the Australian people about when we went to the election. That is $40 billion of measures—more than half of those in curtailing spending but also revenue measures in the area of superannuation and, indeed, in resolving the issue around the backpacker tax within the funding envelope that had been set out.

I note that was the position adopted by those opposite when they went to the last election—that they would resolve that issue within a $500 million envelope. That is what was in their costings. Before the last election Saul Eslake noted there was an alternative approach to what the government is doing; and I noted that we have already achieved more than a quarter of our budget improvement measures so far in this parliamentary term. Saul Eslake said:

…it hardly seems sensible for a would-be Labor government to tolerate a significantly greater budget deficit over the next four years.

He was also reported to say that 'they are potentially risking the AAA credit rating if they outline significantly bigger deficits'.

Despite that warning, they went to the election and they proposed $16½ billion more in bigger deficits, higher taxes and higher spending. That was their approach. The deceit of it all! They had to be dragged kicking and screaming into this House to own up to the spending measures that crept into their own costings before the last election.

Today they have been exposed again, because they have backflipped on the backpacker tax. The proposal they have put out today will cost the budget $500 million, which they can add to their $16½ billion deficit. On top of that, they refused to be up-front with the Australian people on their secret super tax of $1.4 billion, which they have also announced today. Just days before the election, the shadow Treasurer said that they would be committed absolutely to a superannuation package which raised the same amount of revenue as the government. Today they broke that promise, and their lie on their secret super tax has been exposed.

Dr Leigh interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Fenner will cease interjecting.