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Repairing the Budget
What breathtaking hypocrisy! What hide, for this opposition to start talking about the budget!
When I came to this place I thought the members opposite would have some pride and that they would hang their heads in shame due to the fact that they took a $20 billion surplus—$50 billion in the bank—to a debt projected to rise to $667 billion and cumulative deficits of $191 billion over their term of office. I would have thought they would have had avoided trying to make the kinds of accusations that we have heard today because of their abject failure in respect of any budgetary matters.
We saw the former treasurer stand up at the dispatch box and talk about the four surpluses that he was going to deliver and that never eventuated—the 500 promises of a surplus.
Mr Hutchinson: Didn’t they deliver one?
Mr SUKKAR: No. They were not delivered. I have looked around for them. I looked everywhere for it and I could not find a surplus from those opposite.
We were elected with a commitment to get the budget back under control and I am very proud that we are doing it in a prudent way. We are reducing expenditures over the medium to long term. We are making earnest attempts to ensure that any adverse impacts of reductions in expenditure are not felt by those who are the most needy. That is because we are doing it over the medium to long term.
That is what this country needed: a government which actually looks at the medium to long term rather than at the next electoral cycle. I give members opposite some advice: if they think that just splashing cash around is going to work for them, well, it did not work for them in the last six years. The Australian public are smarter than they think. They think they can come out with these base political lines that are going to fool the Australian public about the abject failure that we would see again were they ever to be in government—certainly, on these benches, with control of our budget.
I say to members opposite: for an MPI such as this, do not show the kind of hide that you have shown today. We are undertaking the serious task of investing in our future; investing in productive income-producing assets for this country. Rather than splashing $95 billion on stimulus payments, even after the economy started to recover after the GFC, we are investing in income-producing assets for this country. That is what is needed. That is why this year we are running a significant deficit. But that is because we are investing for long-term growth. Again, I highlight that as an outstanding example of this government looking at the medium to long term rather than just looking at the short-term electoral cycle.
I would also say to members opposite and those who spoke on the MPI earlier: in each of the cases that they highlighted as far as reductions in expenditure go, the undisputed evidence from the budget is that there are no cuts that are being claimed. Rather they are reductions in expenditure growth over the forward estimates—whether those be in health or education. A reduction in growth in expenditure is not a ‘cut’. It is quite basic. That is not a cut. So promising something that was not there is the most callous thing that you can do. There is nothing more callous than promising the Australian people expenditure that did not exist. Seventeen billion dollars promised against the mining tax, that we heard raised $600,000 in the last quarter! Nothing is more callous than making those promises to the Australian people, knowing that you could not deliver them.
I would say that all of the people on the opposition benches there are responsible, because they were all part of a government which saw this absolute economic mismanagement. We will fix it, and this budget will fix their mess.