Senate debates

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Questions without Notice


2:06 pm

Photo of Mathias CormannMathias Cormann (WA, Liberal Party, Minister for Finance) Share this | Hansard source

Yes, I can confirm that the government did receive some unsolicited advice on how we could repair the budget mess that we have inherited from our predecessors. This morning, we had the shadow Treasurer, Mr Bowen, out there, followed up by the Leader of the Opposition in his Press Club speech today, suggesting that the best way to fix the budget mess that Labor left behind was to follow Labor's fiscal rules. If only we did what Labor said we should do, the budget would magically get back into surplus! We would magically reduce debt! I see that Senator Boswell looks a bit confused, and I guess it is true: it is very confusing to listen to a Labor shadow Treasurer saying, 'Do as we say and everything will be fine,' when their track record was such that, when we came into government, we held $123 billion of projected deficits. We inherited a budget with government debt heading for $667 billion.

Over their six budgets, they committed $314 billion more in spending than they collected or thought they would collect in revenue. Of course, they say: 'Stick to our fiscal rules. Make a surplus over the medium term.' Well, we know what that means under the Labor Party. The Labor Party have not delivered a surplus budget since the late eighties. Of course, they say, 'Let's keep spending growth to below two per cent in real terms per year.' Well, guess what? In the first two years of Labor, there was 17 per cent growth in spending in real terms. That was the GFC, we are told, but that was of course the new base that they worked from, from there on in.

And then what? All this additional spending. In year 5, the first year beyond the forward estimates that Labor had blocked in, there was a six per cent increase in spending in 2017-18—real growth in spending compared to 2016-17. That is what Labor left behind. If we followed Labor's trajectory, it would be a recipe for more debt and more deficit. (Time expired)


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