Wednesday, 13 November 2013
Commonwealth Inscribed Stock Amendment Bill 2013; Consideration in Detail
I see what is going on here: the lights opposite are on but there is no-one home. The shadow Treasurer and the member for Grayndler have stood up and said, 'We haven't heard any arguments about why the debt limit needs to go above $400 billion'. As has been said, indeed by the shadow Treasurer: in the now opposition's own pre-election fiscal outlook, gross debt was anticipated to reach $370 billion. The opposition's own tabled information, from the Australian Office of Financial Management, said that there must be a buffer of between $40 billion and $60 billion. So, based on Labor's own numbers in isolation, $370 billion plus $60 billion is $430 billion. Based on those numbers alone, I have news for the Labor Party: $430 billion is more than $400 billion! The Labor Party stand at the dispatch box and says, 'We haven't heard any arguments; what possible arguments could there be?' How about your own numbers, Labor Party?
In addition to that, the extraordinary thing is that the member for Grayndler stands up and says, 'What's the urgency? What's the rush? They're trying to ram this bill through; it just shows that the government can't be trusted.' How extraordinary that another member from the Labor Party would make a comment like that. We know, again based on Labor's own information, that the debt ceiling will be reached in December—in weeks. Now, I have news for the Labor Party: the Senate is not sitting next week. The reality is that there is urgency to this bill, and it is because of the parlous state that was left by the Labor Party. Never forget: it was the former, former Treasurer—or, I should say, the former, former, former Treasurer—who said, 'Well, it'll be someone else's problem to deal with the debt limit.' So Labor, under the member for Lilley, said, 'Someone else can deal with this problem; we're not going to deal with it.' And now the shadow Treasurer says, 'Let's make it $400 billion because we don't see any reason why it should be more than $400 billion'—even though their own numbers make it clear that it is $430 billion.
But the real cherry on top of the cake came from the shadow Treasurer. The shadow Treasurer stood up at the dispatch box, with a straight face—he would make a great poker player, I am sure—and said, 'Well, government, the reality is that this will get you past December', as if in some way that is an appropriate approach to take to good governance. And the Labor Party stands up, with the pinnacle of economic excellence on the Labor Party side, the shadow Treasurer—