Tuesday, 13 September 2016
Questions without Notice
I thank the honourable member for his question—and what a contrast! On our side of the House, we are focusing on the economy, the budget and the responsibilities of parliament. On the other side, it is all the game of politics—avoiding responsibilities for the big issues. I thank the member for his question. The most important priority the 45th Parliament has is to work together to deliver the budget repair that we need. We cannot continue to load mountains of debt on the shoulders of our children and grandchildren. We talk a lot about fairness in this place—and so we should. We have to be focused on fairness. We have to ensure that the economy as it grows does so in a way that includes all Australians. That is key, but a critical element of fairness is intergenerational fairness. It is simply unfair to live beyond your means and load that mountain of debt onto the shoulders of your children and grandchildren.
This budget repair has a long way to go. If we fail to meet that responsibility, it will put pressure on our AAA rating. It has enormous consequences—negative consequences—because the reality is, if we keep on borrowing, our children and grandchildren will either have to pay much higher taxes or have less government services—less quality government services and less in quantity. They will lose.
We want our children and grandchildren to do well. We want them to have greater opportunities than we have had. That is our commitment, and a key part of that is budget repair. We introduced in the last sitting the omnibus savings bill, which set out around $6 billion of savings that the Labor Party had previously opposed but, in the election, they had adopted and incorporated into their own alternative budget. The Treasurer asked the Labor Party to support that. Negotiations continued, and I give credit to the Treasurer and the finance minister and their counterparts, the shadow Treasurer and the shadow finance minister, for cooperating and working on that—in a constructive manner, I must say, which seems quite at odds with the attitude of their leader. But, nonetheless, the good news is that we have achieved by that agreement $6.3 billion of savings over the forwards. That is a critically important element in budget repair. There is a long way to go, but it is a very good step, and it underlines that, if we work together constructively and in the public interest, we can deal with these big challenges. This should be the first of many successful negotiations to achieve the restoration of our public finances and ensure fairness between generations—ensure that those whom we should love the most, our children and grandchildren, are not burdened with a mountain of debt.