House debates

Thursday, 24 November 2022


Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2022-2023; Consideration in Detail

11:35 am

Photo of Stuart RobertStuart Robert (Fadden, Liberal Party, Shadow Assistant Treasurer) Share this | Hansard source

I'm cognisant of the time and trying to get through everything before we get to the adjournment at one o'clock, so I will be brief. In terms of the budget, it is a missed opportunity to continue to set lines and standards. Being an ERC minister when the last government brought the budget into balance, the rules of budget balance are quite simple: 75 per cent is receipts and 25 per cent is expenditure. That's what has to be managed. We did that by having a speed bump of 23.9 per cent of GDP in terms of tax receipts. That forms a basis by which government can live within its means, and a basis by which government does not tax its population too much—noting that, when we came in in 2013, the previous Labor government receipts had dropped down to 22½ per cent in 2011-12, courtesy of the GFC. Likewise, in terms of living within your means, we also set a spending cap at 1.9 per cent of growth so that year-on-year growth in spending wouldn't increase beyond 1.9 per cent. As the economy grew, expenditure of government didn't, and the increase in tax receipts and the decrease in expenditure equals a balanced budget.

Unfortunately, this budget is a missed opportunity. Those speed bumps are gone. There's no limit on government debt, there's no 23.9 per cent limit on receipts in terms of percentage of GDP and there's no limit on government expenditure. That is why we've seen, in the out years, government debt—as in, deficits—increasing. We saw, as soon as New South Wales and Victoria come out of lockdown, the budget for those months started to come back into balance. Unfortunately, with $115 billion in new spending, those tax limits have been run over, and that's why this budget is now running away. We're seeing unemployment going up. There are 150,000 more Australians unemployed. This government was bequeathed an unemployment level that had dropped to 3.4 per cent—an extraordinary level—the lowest in 50 years, with the participation rate at its highest.

Government needs to ensure that the economy runs smoothly, that inflation is not fed by extra spending, and that people have the opportunity to keep those jobs. We're seeing power prices coming up, because of the government's ill-advised approach on legislating—56 per cent in the next two years, compared with an average of 0.3 per cent year on year over the previous government. The budget is, unfortunately, a missed opportunity. It's a missed opportunity to balance and it's a missed opportunity for fiscal restraint, and Australians will pay for it.


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