Tuesday, 6 October 2020
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Prime Minister. Before coming to office this government announced that it would produce a surplus in its first budget and every year after that. Last year the Prime Minister announced, bizarrely, that he had 'brought the budget back to surplus next year'. Isn't it the case that this government has never delivered a surplus, never will deliver a surplus and had doubled the debt well before coronavirus hit?
Opposition members interjecting—
In fact, it is a carnival over there. It is embarrassing—for the Leader of the Opposition to not acknowledge that the COVID-19 global pandemic has prevented the government from achieving a surplus in the last financial year. He must be the only person on this planet who doesn't understand that the impact of the COVID-19 global pandemic on this country, on the jobs and livelihoods of this country—
Yes, on relevance. The question went to the Prime Minister's own statement that he had 'brought the budget back to surplus next year'—that it had already happened—well before coronavirus hit.
I'd just point out to the Leader of the Opposition that the question did go to that but it went to a number of other statements, preambles, statistics as well. So, that does—
Mr Albanese interjecting—
Well, there was a lot in there. I think we won't waste the time of the House by having me read back your own question to you. I've got a transcript of it here. The Prime Minister's in order.
And over those six years, as we brought the budget back into balance, those opposite fought us every step of the way. All the way through, they fought against the government as we sought to repair a budget that they left in absolute tatters by their economic irresponsibility, with programs like cash for clunkers—and the list goes on and on and on, where they failed in their responsibility to manage the budget.
I particularly acknowledge here in this place today the work of the Minister for Finance. This will be his seventh budget. In the six years leading up to tonight's budget, he more than anyone was responsible for ensuring that as we went into the COVID-19 global pandemic the government of Australia was in a position to move quickly and strongly to ensure that we could cushion the blow. And we have cushioned that blow. We couldn't eliminate the blow. No country has been able to do that. But this country has done it better than almost any other developed country in the world today, with the speed of our response as well as the design of our response, and the capability to respond because of the work that had been done by this government, year in year out, to repair the budget and bring it back to balance.
Those opposite have shown no disposition to what is necessary to try to restore a budget back to balance. One of the things they don't understand is that the way we will restore the budget to balance after we have moved through this crisis, should we be given that opportunity into the future, will be by growing our economy, guaranteeing the essential services that Australians rely on and not increasing their taxes. That's how we brought the budget back into balance before this COVID-19 recession, and that is exactly how we'll do it again. People ask, 'How will the jobs come back?' They're already coming back. Under this government, we knew how to bring jobs back—1½ million jobs—before the COVID-19 recession hit. Those jobs are coming back, and they're coming back under our plan. (Time expired)