House debates

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Prime Minister and Treasurer

Suspension of Standing and Sessional Orders

2:59 pm

Photo of Joe HockeyJoe Hockey (North Sydney, Liberal Party, Shadow Treasurer) Share this | Hansard source

I second the motion. The Prime Minister expects us to believe that he is a fiscal conservative. Yet the Prime Minister took us into the deepest deficit since World War 2. The Prime Minister expects us to believe, and the Australian people to believe, that he can control debt. Yet he has delivered the biggest debt for the Australian government since World War 2. The Prime Minister expects us to believe that he is fiscally prudent, yet so much of what he is spending is going on the nation’s credit card. The Prime Minister expects us to believe, and the Australian people to believe, that he has a plan to get Australia out of the Rudd government debt, the debt that was accrued in just one budget.

He expects us to believe a figure that never appeared before on a date that never appeared before. With a sense of panic the Prime Minister plucked out of the air 2022, 13 years hence, for the repayment of the Rudd government debt. It is not in the budget papers, but with a sense of panic he pulled it out of the air. Then, when we started to ask questions about the economic assumptions, about the justification for that so-called 13-year plan—longer than anything the Soviet Union can be proud of—he expected us to take him at his word. Today the Prime Minister and the Treasurer, with a rhinoceros hide, came into this place and said, ‘It’s all in the budget papers.’ We asked them specifically: ‘Exactly where in the budget papers? Point out the data. Point out the assumptions about economic growth. Point out the assumptions about inflation. Point out all of the detail that gives any credibility at all to the claim by the Prime Minister that he is going to pay off the debt in 13 years.’ And there is silence. If there is not silence, they try and have what we call in this business ‘weapons of mass distraction’.

The Prime Minister has stood here for a number of days and held up photos. It is like Kevin’s world tour. Normally we get the Eiffel Tower, normally we get the Vatican, normally we get each and everything. On this occasion we have Handy Manny going like Bob the Builder—mixing all the children’s metaphors—around the nation pretending to build. He is not telling the Australian people it is all borrowed money. He is forgetting that fact, a fact that is fundamental to the economic destiny of our nation. At a time when countries—not just companies, but countries—are struggling to raise money to pay their day-to-day bills this Prime Minister is running around the country protesting about the fact that the opposition did not support him on the biggest spending package in memory. It is $43 billion, and yet he decries us for asking how this is going to be paid for. Isn’t there a contradiction there? The Prime Minister says, day after day, question after question, that we opposed all these initiatives, and yet he has the hide to claim that there would be no difference in the debt between the coalition and the Labor Party. What a hide. To come into this place, the House of Representatives, the people’s House, and to simply lie to the Australian people about the justification for his claim that the debt of the nation will be repaid by 2022 means that the spin of the Prime Minister and the incompetence of the Treasurer are as great as the debt, the legacy that they are leaving the Australian people. We are asking basic questions about the numbers. If we are wrong about those numbers, tell us where we are wrong. Tell us how we are wrong. Give us the numbers. Tell us exactly what the assumptions are that lead you to claim that you are going to pay off the debt.

There is one message out of this: the Rudd government stands for the biggest debt the Australian people have had since World War 2. The Rudd government stands for a failure in fiscal policy. The Rudd government stands for incompetence. The Rudd government stands for spin. The Rudd government is not going to deliver the Australian people any hope that they can get us out of the financial mess that they have made far worse.


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