Senate debates

Monday, 19 March 2012

Bills

Minerals Resource Rent Tax Bill 2011, Minerals Resource Rent Tax (Consequential Amendments and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2011, Minerals Resource Rent Tax (Imposition — General) Bill 2011, Minerals Resource Rent Tax (Imposition — Customs) Bill 2011, Minerals Resource Rent Tax (Imposition — Excise) Bill 2011, Petroleum Resource Rent Tax Assessment Amendment Bill 2011, Petroleum Resource Rent Tax (Imposition — General) Bill 2011, Petroleum Resource Rent Tax (Imposition — Customs) Bill 2011, Petroleum Resource Rent Tax (Imposition — Excise) Bill 2011, Tax Laws Amendment (Stronger, Fairer, Simpler and Other Measures) Bill 2011, Superannuation Guarantee (Administration) Amendment Bill 2011; Second Reading

7:58 pm

Photo of Nigel ScullionNigel Scullion (NT, Country Liberal Party, Deputy Leader of the Nationals) Share this | Hansard source

In a heartbeat. The government has increased spending to record levels—that is one thing I must commend this government on. It has done a fantastic job of spending money hand over fist. In fact, it provides the money so swiftly it seems like some things are done in too much haste. Spending money is such an activity that we have forgotten the actual outcome we are trying to provide.

Senator Polley interjecting—

I know there was a little murmuring from the other side that perhaps that was just a little bit of spin from Nasty Nige, but I promise you it was not. I will just give you some examples of the waste and mismanagement in terms of blow-outs. For those on the other side of the chamber, a blow-out generally refers—and the budget is coming up soon, so we should all be very much aware of this—to what you say will be in the budget and what actually happens. There was a border protection blow-out of $1.75 million. For Building the Education Revolution there was a $1.7 billion blow-out, and $8 billion was wasted. I know that the education sector would have loved to have that $8 billion actually spent on their sector. There was $2.4 billion wasted on the pink batts, with $900 cheques going to dead people and people overseas. It was a complete charade. Laptops in schools had a $1.4 billion blow-out. They did not even deliver half the program. Solar homes had an $850 million blow-out. Just as well they cancelled the program. That was a big saving grace. At least we did not blow out any more money. Green Loans had $300 million wasted and broadband had $50 billion wasted. We are a bit worried about that. There is no business plan. I do not know where that is going to end up.

It is this Labor government's completely incompetent management of the economy that is their motive. They need to get back to spending again, so they have to fill up the coffers. So they say: 'I know what we'll do. We'll just go and get a new tax, because that will stick it in the bucket again and we can carry on spending.'

The question also has to be asked: will this measure work? Quite clearly they believe it will. I have to remind those on the other side that from none of my reading—and it is not extensive in history—can I recall a country that has actually taxed itself out of prosperity or taxed itself out of a black hole. There certainly have not been any countries that have particularly built their wealth by adding another tax. It is just another one of 19 new or increased taxes over their period of time. So to those people on the other side bleating about a touch-up: this is what happens when you blow it. You must be responsible for your own incompetence and your own mistakes.

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