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Thursday, 26 November 2009
Page: 13058

Mr HOCKEY (2:48 PM) —My question is to the Treasurer, and I refer to rising interest rates. I ask the Treasurer a simple question: will the Treasurer inform the House how much interest the government will have to pay on its record debt until that debt is paid off in 2022?

Mr SWAN (Treasurer) —I welcome this question, because one month ago this Monday I presented MYEFO—an update of the budget forecast, the economic outlook and the budget outlook. I have not had a question from the shadow Treasurer about that in one month. Admittedly, he was away for a period of time. The family had a young baby. I understand that. But for him not to ask a question at any stage during this week about the MYEFO document, which forecasts stronger growth and lower net debt—some $50 billion lower net debt—or not to ask a question about those figures in one month just shows you what fundamental misjudgment the opposition has and how disorganised it is in its approach to economic policy or, for that matter, any other policy. It is very sloppy. It is definitely very sloppy. The opposition has been running this classic scare campaign about rising interest rates.

Mr Hockey —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The question could not have been more specific. How much interest will the government have to pay on its debt? How much?

Mr SWAN —The shadow Treasurer knows full well that all of the estimates are there in MYEFO, but I am happy to run him through them. Let us go through it: net interest payments for 2009-10 are around $2 billion or 0.2 per cent of GDP; net interest payments are projected to rise to $8.2 billion or 0.6 per cent of GDP by 2012-13. Those are the figures. They have been there in MYEFO for over a month. But the opposition have not been able to summon the political will to ask a question about them. Let me tell you why this question has taken so long: they are so acutely embarrassed by their opposition to our stimulus packages that they cannot come into the House—

Mr Hockey —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I did not ask him about questions. I asked him a simple question: how much interest is Australia going have to pay on your debt?

The SPEAKER —The Treasurer is responding to the question.

Mr SWAN —I have run through the numbers, but I want to go through the economic outlook that lies behind the numbers. This government had to borrow responsibly to support small business and to support employment. What the Mid-Year Fiscal and Economic Outlook showed was this: as a result of the global recession, we have had to write down revenues by $170 billion. The course of action that we took in those circumstances was to borrow responsibly.

Mr Pyne —Mr Speaker—

The SPEAKER —There is no point of order. The member for Sturt will resume his seat and the Treasurer will resume his seat. The Treasurer is responding to the question under the standing orders.

Mr Lindsay —No, he isn’t.

The SPEAKER —The member for Herbert will leave the chamber for one hour under standing order 94(a).

Mr Lindsay —Mr Speaker, we’re not getting any answers to the questions we ask.

The SPEAKER —The member for Herbert is named.

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler —Leader of the House) [2:52 PM] —I move:

That the member for Herbert be suspended from the service of the House.

Mr Pyne interjecting

The SPEAKER —The member for Sturt is warned.

Question put.