Senate debates

Monday, 24 November 2014

Questions without Notice


2:07 pm

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

Mr President, our challenge as a nation is to ensure that we can live within our means, to ensure our income covers our expenditure so that we do not have to keep borrowing from future generations in order to underwrite our lifestyle today and to ensure that we have a sustainable funding base for important services in welfare, health, education and all of the other important services that the Commonwealth provides. Of course governments of both persuasions, Labor and Liberal-National party governments in the past, have recognised the importance of structural reforms and sound policy when it comes to managing the budget, but not this Labor opposition under the leadership of Bill Shorten.

I just remind the Senate and I remind senators opposite that many of the reforms that we are talking about today are reforms that were first initiated by Labor governments in the past. For example, Bob Hawke introduced a co-payment on GP services in the 1991 budget, and we know that the shadow Assistant Treasurer, Mr Leigh, is strongly supportive of that particular proposition. A biannual indexation of the fuel excise commenced in August 1983 under Labor, and Paul Keating at the time said:

… every six months [the fuel excise is] adjusted for inflation—the real value of the tax does not change.

He also said:

… we are definitely not prepared to have the excise base of the Commonwealth eroded … the direct income tax burden will rise if other categories of tax receipts fall.

And wait for this, Mr President: who was it who introduced for the first time the efficiency dividend on the ABC? It was none other than Ralph Willis. Remember Ralph Willis? He said in 1999 that 'the government decided that ABC funding should be maintained in real terms for the next two years but be subject to the efficiency dividend in the same way as all government departments and most budget funded agencies are required to be'. Who abolished it? It was the Howard government after putting the budget back on a sound footing. (Time expired)


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