MATTERS OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE Budget

Mr HUSIC (Chifley—Government Whip) (16:25): It is always a pleasure to follow the member for Goldstein because he always delivers such nuggets. Just a few moments ago we heard 'this government spends, borrows and taxes' like no other government does that. What is it supposed to do? They tax, they spend and they occasionally borrow. That is the way governments all over the world operate. And now we are being lectured about budget management from those opposite.

I do not quote Paul Keating much. I should quote him more but I do not. He had a great mind. When you look at the figures in this budget, they are truly a beautiful set of numbers. Look at the economic stats in this budget and what we have been able to deliver. Growth is at 3½ per cent—most other countries in the world would love to have the growth that we have. Our economy is 16 per cent bigger than what it was at the start of the GFC. Not many countries can boast that. Inflation is contained, interest rates are lower than what we inherited and we had the member for Lindsay and the Assistant Treasurer indicate what impact that has had on households. We have a AAA rating only a short space of time after one of the world's largest economies, the US, was unable to maintain its rating. We have three agencies giving us a AAA rating, and investment is at $450 billion.

I am particularly proud of jobs growth. Seeing more jobs created, especially in western Sydney—my part of Sydney—is absolutely critical for the people that I and others represent. There were 750,000 jobs created as a result of the economic policies and the economic climate that we put in place. There is five per cent unemployment here and 10 per cent in the Euro zone.

The most critical point is the budget surplus of $1.5 billion. We said we would do it and we did it. We said we would deliver it and we have managed it. People will talk from time to time, regardless of which side of politics is in government, about a budget bounce. Budget bounces, frankly, are illusory. The big thing about this is that we delivered a critical economic objective in reaching a surplus. We can now give the Reserve Bank the room to provide the type of stimulus that is now required because we have gone through an economic period that needed fiscal stimulus. We have gone through that phase and it is now about being able to loosen up monetary policy and see business make investment decisions which cost less to finance; that is why that is so important.

We have seen taxation as a proportion of GDP at some of its lowest levels. It is now 22.1 per cent, down from the 23.7 per cent that we inherited. And we have done that effectively while swimming with one hand tied behind our backs. There is $150 billion in revenues. Tell me a government that would be able to survive having $150 billion of revenue sucked out and still be able to deliver a budget that is in surplus? We delivered a surplus, we targeted spending and we still have tax lower than when those opposite were in government.

Look at those opposite. Every time there is a bad economic statistic, they relish it. They lick their lips at any bad economic statistic. And they shrink away from good economic statistics like Dracula from sunlight—Count Hockular. They are up there all the time avoiding any good economic statistic such as higher growth, lower inflation or lower interest rates. Their first response on any occasion is to try and undermine confidence, bag out what has gone on, distort facts and ignore reality, but they are also continuing a tradition: in government, when were those opposite ever able to cut expenditure? In fact, in their last five years of government spending continued to increase at four per cent on average. They were unable to cut expenditure. They are coming here today and talking to us about the need to be able to manage the budget, but they were unable to even cut spending and kept increasing spending in those last four years. We have cut it: $33.6 billion—$100 billion of savings delivered by us. They could not then; they could not now.

They, for example, reckon they can find $70 billion in savings themselves. In a simple test last year, we were trying to help Queenslanders recover after the worst floods that they have ever experienced. We proposed a one-year levy that those opposite opposed bitterly. They said that we should not be spending on helping out Queenslanders via a levy. They resisted it every step of the way and said they could find the savings themselves; they could find savings to the tune of $6 billion. A number of deadlines were set, but they were never able to identify the savings and achieve them. That is on $6 billion, and they reckon they will find $70 billion of savings.

The member for North Sydney talks about this being a confused budget. I think it is wrong that he is trying to shift his confusion of numbers and numerical literacy over to us. When you look at it, take their form: they call for help for manufacturing workers and cut $500 million from industry assistance; they call for costs of living relief and are now opposing the schoolkids bonus; and they call for tax relief and have opposed the corporate tax rate cuts that we put forward. There is no confusion on our side. We know what needs to be done, but every step of the way we are opposed by them. They claim they have the ear of corporate Australia. They claim they represent them, but they have thrown corporate Australia under the bus the minute they could because they put their own political interest first instead of supporting a cut to corporate tax.

Confusion—today, in this debate, the member for North Sydney talked about how the Greens supported a tax cut for small business and was suggesting that those opposite would have supported that, a differential in corporate tax rates. Having tiered corporate tax rates is what they were talking about.

Confusion—look at our ERC and what it has been able to deliver. Our ERC is delivered as surplus ahead of most other economies. We have performance and growth way better than other economies. Our ERC has been able to operate like that. Their ERC operates like an entrapment exercise: handing out dodgy figures to see who will leak it to the media first to get that 'gotcha' moment. That is their ERC—their ERC operates like an entrapment exercise where the member for Goldstein is not trusted by the member for North Sydney, and they are overseen by a man, the Leader of the Opposition, who even his own colleagues describe as 'not having a real good feel for economics' or 'economically illiterate'. This is their ERC.

Confusion—the Leader of the Opposition bags out the economy here but trips over to London and says, 'Our economy has genuine bragging rights.' What is it with long-haul flights and the opposition? Their feet do not even touch foreign soil before they are in their own mouths. Then you have the member for North Sydney going on and suddenly having this thought bubble: 'We should have a welfare system like Asia. We should look at Korea. We should have a welfare system that is just like the Korean welfare system.' I am sure that that would be a cracker of an argument for all those people who get carers support, the people who need that type of assistance—unemployment support and Austudy—and all those people who, when you look at the complexity of our system, would just love to know that we should model it on Korea and effectively cut out $90 billion in one swoop.

Confusion—today Joe Hockey was asked, 'What is the difference between you introducing a baby bonus and the schoolkids bonus?' You could not make this stuff up. I think it is important we read back in the Hansard what was said today. On 3AW the host asked, 'Are you being critical of the schools bonus?' This is directed to Joe Hockey: 'What is the difference between the baby bonus that you introduced and the schools bonus?' The member for North Sydney says, 'There's a vast difference,' And the host says, 'What?' The member for North Sydney says, 'You have to have a baby.' This is the piercing logic that we have from those opposite, who tell us we should manage the budget better, and the Leader of the Opposition was also challenged on this point today: how is the schools bonus any different to the baby bonus, for example? The Leader of the Opposition says, 'Look, they just are; just accept it.' These are the geniuses among those opposite, who are lecturing us about budget management and cannot get it right themselves. I am grateful that they brought this MPI up, because we need more laughs in this place. I am very thankful that you have been able to bring that to the House. (Time expired)

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Ed Husic MP
Federal Labor Member for Chifley


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