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Tuesday, 8 May 2018
Page: 3258


Mr BOWEN (McMahon) (14:14): My question is to the Prime Minister. Former Howard government Treasurer Peter Costello says that he'll be dead before the government pays back its debt. Can the Prime Minister confirm that since this government came to office gross debt has increased to a record half a trillion dollars and that gross debt will be even higher in tonight's budget?

Mr TURNBULL (WentworthPrime Minister) (14:14): I thank the honourable member for his question. I heard the honourable member talking about debt and deficit today. I heard him alleging that the stronger revenues he was foreshadowing in the budget were all the result of stronger global economic growth. In fact, it has nothing to do with that. He didn't give Australians any credit for any of those jobs that are being created or for the investment decisions that businesses across the country are making, and, of course, he didn't want to give the government any credit for the policies that are encouraging businesses to do just that.

The one thing we know about the Labor Party is that they run debt and deficit regardless of the season. Global growth in 2010 and 2011 was 5.4 per cent and 4.2 per cent. It was very strong. That's when they ran a $47 billion deficit. They kept running deficits at a time when the iron ore price was $150 a tonne. So, even when commodity prices were high and economic growth was high, Labor, addicted to spending, kept on spending and kept on running up larger and larger deficits. They left us with a structural deficit, which we have been deliberately and consistently winding back, and that is why we are bringing the budget back into balance. The reality is this: Labor does not have a single policy that would encourage one Australian business to invest one dollar or hire one person. They used to have policies like that. They did. They had policies of reducing business taxes.

Mr Bowen interjecting

Mr TURNBULL: In fact, the gentleman who is interjecting was so convinced of it he wrote a book about it. He did. It can be found wherever remaindering occurs. There are piles of them. As Clive James said, it's piled up there next to the kung-fu cookbook. You can get it anywhere—lots of them; by the gross, there are so many for sale. It's an artefact. It'll be in the museum. But the reality is that Australians need to know that they have a government that is going to back them, deliver stronger economic growth, ensure hardworking families keep more of the money they have earned, guarantee essential services and ensure government lives within its means. That's our commitment.