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Tuesday, 26 August 1980
Page: 680


Mr John Brown (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I refer the Prime Minister to his homilies on the similarities in the need to balance the household budget as well as the Commonwealth Government's Budget. Did the total debt of the Commonwealth Government in 1975 amount to $440 for every Australian? Did that level of indebtedness rise to $1,265 in 1980 for every man, woman and child in Australia? As the Australian Government has increased its level of indebtedness by almost 300 per cent in the last five years, does the Prime Minister regard such a practice as responsible financial management for an Australian household?


Mr HOWARD (BENNELONG, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Treasurer) - I ask the honourable member for Parramatta to repeat the first few lines of the question so that I might know exactly what description he is using when talking about public sector debt.


Mr John Brown (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I will skip the reference to the Prime Minister's well-known homilies. 1 asked: Did the total debt of the Commonwealth Government in 1975 amount to $440 for every Australian?


Mr HOWARD - I have not done the per capita calculations that the honourable member--


Mr Hayden - They are in statement No. 6.


Mr HOWARD - All right. I have not done the per capita calculations that the honourable member for Parramatta referred to, but nothing can gainsay the fact that as a percentage of gross domestic product, which is surely the most accurate measure of the total resources of any activity, the Commonwealth Budget deficit this year is the lowest that it has been for seven years. Not only is the Commowealth Budget deficit at its lowest figure for seven years but also for the second time, in two successive years, the total size of the public sector borrowing requirement has altered.


Mr Hurford - Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. Under Standing Orders is it not necessary for answers to be relevant? This answer is not relevant. The question was about public debt. The Treasurer is talking about a deficit. Would you please ask him to be relevant?


Mr SPEAKER - Order! I rule that the answer was relevant. My experience as Treasurer led me to understand that, depending on the size of the deficit, the debt was likely to expand or contract.







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