Monday, 24 June 2013
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Prime Minister. I remind the Prime Minister of her promise three years ago today that the budget would be back in surplus in 2013. Given that her government has presided over $110 billion in deficits since then, and a further $29 billion of deficits are forecast, why has the Prime Minister not kept her promise to the Australian people that the government would live within its means?
I thank the member for North Sydney for his question and note that in the past he has commentated on some important economic matters. I remind him, for example, of his words: 'Our very strong view is we were the initiators of an emissions trading scheme and we believe in a market based approach'. I thank him for his endorsement of the government's policy to price carbon and our emissions trading scheme. His endorsement is very welcome.
On our economic and budget strategy, the shadow Treasurer, who asked the question, well knows that what you need to do with the budget is you need to make decisions, and they are not easy decisions, so that they are appropriate for your economy and they support jobs and growth. We are involved in a major fiscal consolidation—that is, we are making billions and billions and billions of dollars of savings in responsible changes in the budget. I do note that the opposition has waved these changes through—more than $40 billion worth of changes in the budget papers. I remind the shadow Treasurer of that. I also remind him that he has had his fights within his political party as to whether or not those responsible changes will be endorsed.
But we have calibrated our budget strategy so that we not only improve the budget bottom line but also we support jobs and growth in our economy, because, if we did what the shadow Treasurer is suggesting, you would need to cut to the bone and that would bring our economy to a standstill. I make this offer to the shadow Treasurer: I do think that this is a debate that needs to be had clearly and accurately with the benefit of very accurate figures. The government's budget is there. If, any day, the shadow Treasurer wants to table where he thinks cuts should be in that budget, to bring it back to surplus more quickly, then he should do so. Then, of course, we will have an honest debate about the government's economic strategy versus the cuts to the bone of the shadow Treasurer. If he genuinely believes that he can bring the budget to surplus more quickly then he should have no difficulties at all tabling a document that shows tens of billions of dollars worth of cuts.
The people who are going to feel the pain of those cuts deserve to know. So step up, table the document showing where the billions of dollars of cuts are going to go—where they are going in Health, where they are going in Education, where they are going in payments to families, where they are going in child care. Step up, table the document and we will have a red hot honest debate about it. In the meantime, we will keep supporting Australian jobs and opportunities for Australians.