Tuesday, 8 August 2023
Questions without Notice
I'm much more likely to get a question about the economy from the wonderful member for Macquarie than from the shadow Treasurer opposite. In the spirit of the Prime Minister a moment ago quoting Chris Kenny, I thought I might start by quoting the member for Hume. The member for Hume said this. The week before the budget he said: 'The test for this budget will be to balance the budget.'
Next month we will hand down the final budget outcome and it will be better than balanced for the past year. We expect it to show a surplus just north of $20 billion. This is set to be the biggest nominal improvement in the fiscal position in the history of this Commonwealth, from a $78 billion deficit to a $20 billion or so surplus—a turnaround in the order of $100 billion in the first year of this Albanese government. A stronger budget is not an end in itself. It hasn't come at the cost of helping people who need our help, as the minister went through a moment ago.
In fact, it's our responsible budget management which underpins the cost-of-living relief that we've been able to provide, whether it's the help with Commonwealth grant assistance, bulk-billing or cheaper medicines or taking some of the edge off electricity bills.
This type of responsible economic management would be completely and utterly unrecognisable to the member for Hume and his colleagues over there. We wouldn't be within cooee of a surplus if we had continued down their path. We're returning 87 per cent of revenue upgrades, across our two budgets, compared to 40 per cent under them. We found $40 billion in savings in two budgets—
compared to zero savings in their last budget. And our responsible management is leading the first surplus in 15 years and smaller deficits over the forwards as well. That means that the Australian people save on debt interest costs in the budget.
If those opposite didn't like the first time I quoted the member for Hume, let me try again. On 2 May he said this:
… we need to see a surplus this year … we need to see the government focussing on balancing the budget because that will help Australian businesses and households to balance their budgets, taking pressure off inflation, taking pressure off interest rates.
I couldn't have said it better myself. And the final budget outcome will make that very clear.
Those opposite—they had the slogans, they had the photo ops, they were flogging those dodgy mugs on the Liberal Party website. They did everything associated with delivering a surplus except to actually deliver a surplus. The contrast couldn't be clearer. This government's responsible economic management is providing cost-of-living relief, taking pressure off inflation and investing in a better future while we clean up the mess that they left behind. (Time expired)