Wednesday, 9 November 2016
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Treasurer. It has been revealed today that the New South Wales Liberal government has lobbied credit rating agencies to defend their AAA rating in anticipation of the Commonwealth losing its AAA credit rating. Is the Turnbull government so chaotic and incompetent that even Mike Baird has lost confidence in this Treasurer's ability to defend Australia's AAA rating?
I thank the member for his question. At the last election, those opposite thought the way to retain the AAA credit rating of this country was to increase the deficit of the country by $16½ billion. That is what they proposed at the last election. But, after their latest incursion into this area, we know that that deficit would be even higher, because we know that members opposite want to fund a tax cut for foreign workers which would cost the budget another $500 million. And they all somehow think that this is actually going to improve the financial position of this country.
The member for Hunter, earlier today—or yesterday, I think it was—talked about what the impact of the tax cut for foreign workers would be on the budget. He basically said, 'It just means we'll have less money, and we'll just have to deal with that.' That is the approach of those opposite—like the member for Jagajaga, when she used to talk about how we will find the money to deal with child care: 'We'll find it somewhere. It'll turn up somewhere or somehow over the rainbow.' That is the approach of those opposite. What those opposite do when they sit on these benches is carelessly engage in reckless spending, drive up taxes, drive up debt and drive up the deficit. As a result, they have placed the nation's finances in the position that we inherited as a government.
We have $40 billion of budget improvement measures that we put to the last election. More than a quarter of those have already been passed through this parliament, but the rest have to pass. The rest have to pass to ensure that we can put Australia in the strongest possible position when it comes to the assessment of our financial position by external agencies, but those opposite do not support those measures. They do not. They do not support those measures. What they want to do is drive up the deficit and drive up the debt, and they somehow think that that is an answer to this nation's economic challenges and to returning the budget to surplus.
I ask those opposite to reflect on the question they just asked. If they want to protect Australia's credit rating, then they should take the advice of Standard & Poor's, who have said quite plainly that the government's fiscal trajectory, our fiscal trajectory, to return the budget to surplus requires the support of this parliament in this chamber and in the other chamber. If you are concerned about the credit rating, pass our savings, pass our revenue measures and allow us to get on with the job of achieving what you failed to do.