Wednesday, 27 May 2009
Prime Minister and Treasurer
Suspension of Standing and Sessional Orders
If he cannot read them he should go and hire somebody who can help him. What this government has been about is investing in the future. What we have been talking about through this budget is nation building for recovery to support employment, nation building to make sure that our people are protected from the ravages of this global recession. That is what the budget is all about. That is why, in this budget, we have the very strong support of the business community. We have the strong support of the business community for economic stimulus because they understand that when the world imposes such a sharp contraction in global demand on an economy such as this, the only force in society that can move in to protect people, to protect families and to protect businesses is the national government.
Those opposite have got the hide to come in here and complain about a net debt figure of 3.7 per cent in 2019-20. That is a remarkably low figure. They have the hide to ignore the fact that when they left government they had $58 billion worth of securities on issue anyway. We have not heard anything about that form of debt, and that was necessary debt and we supported that debt. And there is a role for debt in the circumstances we are in at the moment, because we nation build. What we do is invest in the future. We expand our capacity. There have been all of these questions about inflation. What our nation building for recovery is all about is expanding the productive capacity of this economy to maximise the opportunities that surely do come when global growth returns. That is what investment in road and rail and port is all about and, of course, what our investment in education is all about, from primary school to secondary school and higher education. It is all about investing in the future. It is absolutely sensible to borrow to do some of those things and, as growth returns, bring the budget back to surplus and pay down the debt. That is the responsible course of action that we have embarked upon.
In any other parliament in the world there would be oppositions supporting these logical, sane propositions from the government. But it is a measure of how feral those opposite have become, how they are unable to handle the role of opposition and how embittered they have become by their election defeat that they cannot come into this House and support Australian families and Australian businesses in their hour of need. They really should be condemned for this behaviour. It is so opportunistic.
Of course, the Leader of the Opposition does know better, but he is now so consumed with the threat from the shadow Treasurer on the one hand and the member for Higgins on the other, who are conducting this foot race behind him every day, that he is getting involved in some of the most desperate, irresponsible political tactics I have ever seen in this House. How you could come in here and claim it is irresponsible to pay down net debt to 3.7 per cent is entirely beyond me. Other nations around the world—advanced economies—are having net debt levels of 80 per cent. It is a small price to pay to protect our people, to invest in the future, to look after families and to make sure that we chart a course through a global recession, protecting our people to the maximum possible extent, which brings me back to where I began.
The Leader of the Opposition stood at the National Press Club and said, ‘Stimulus has not created one single job,’ despite all of the evidence—retail sales, housing, consumer confidence. All of these things are higher in Australia than they are anywhere else in the world, because the Australian government had the courage to face up to its responsibilities, to borrow to put in place phase 1 of economic stimulus, phase 2 of economic stimulus and phase 3 of economic stimulus. Phase 3 of economic stimulus was the budget—nation building for recovery. It was the investment in road, rail and port that those opposite would not make when it was raining gold bars during the mining boom. They could not make those decisions then.
We have taken the responsible decision to invest in the future to protect our people, which is why we reject entirely this motion from those opposite, because there is not a shred of economic credibility in their behaviour and absolutely nothing to their baseless assertions about our projections and our forecasts. We stand by them because they have been prepared by some of the most professional people, respected here and around the world, in our Treasury. We stand by them because what we have the courage to do is to stand up for Australia in the middle of the global recession. It is incredible that the only people in the community who are opposing what we are doing are the Liberal and National parties in this parliament, who do not have the sense to understand the nature of the challenge or the courage to develop an alternative policy framework. This government has done it. We are absolutely proud of it. We have a course set to pay down debt and get back to surplus and we will pursue that. (Time expired)
That the motion (Mr Turnbull’s) be agreed to.