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Thursday, 17 October 1985
Page: 1385


Senator SIDDONS(11.55) —There has been a lot of talk about appropriations. The Minister for Finance (Senator Walsh) spent most of his time saying that appropriations could be debated with the Budget. That is true. This Bill is not about appropriations; it is about the Government raising money. It is about whether there should be any control on the amount of money that the Government can borrow. How the Government spends the money once it has borrowed it is another thing again. As I interpret his remarks, Senator Walsh is trying to tell us that the Government should be given carte blanche to borrow any amount of money it likes without any scrutiny of the Parliament. Admittedly-


Senator Walsh —Were you not listening to what I said?


Senator SIDDONS —I was. The Minister talked about appropriations. We are not talking about appropriations. We are talking about the restrictions that parliament should place on the fund-raising capacity of a government. If we are going to give the Government carte blanche to raise as much money as it likes, I am sure that it will find ways of spending it. The important thing is to control the Government's fund raising procedures. Surely the Australian people should be concerned about this matter. The level of our foreign debt has risen from 9.4 per cent of gross domestic product in 1978 to 33 per cent at present. This is an enormous increase. The Government is borrowing money quite recklessly. It is leaving it to future years to worry about how these enormous amounts of money are to be repaid and financed.

Senator Walsh said that the Government does not propose to call a division on the second amendment. I am not sure that my foreshadowed second amendment has been circulated to everybody. That amendment states:

Clause 3, definition of `prescribed year', leave out paragraph (b) and leave out `or' at the end of the previous paragraph.

The Democrats will call for a division when the question is put on the amendment.