Monday, 5 February 2018
Matters of Public Importance
I welcome the opportunity to speak on the subject of debt level. The $42 billion of the Rudd government's expenditure is dwarfed into insignificance when one considers the total debt level of Australia as of September 2017. But first let me make comment on the remarks of Senator Ketter. He said that Labor actually stopped Australia from losing 200,000 jobs at the time of the GFC. The fact is: the pink batts and putting money into schools programs were rorted. The whole system was rorted. It would have been better if they'd innovated and put money into infrastructure projects. We would now have dams providing the water; we would have rail; we would have bridges. That would've been far better. We'd have something to show for the money that we spent.
From research backed up by the government's own facts, I would list the following. Government debt to GDP in Australia averaged 22½ per cent from 1989 until 2016, reaching an all-time high in 2016. Australia's record government debt is equivalent to 41.10 per cent of the country's gross domestic product in 2016. As at 11 April 2017, our national debt was described by the Commonwealth of Australia as $551.75 billion; however, other verifiable sources have our debt level at over $600 billion. Australia's GDP in 2017 was approximately $1.5 trillion. These are four appalling records. Australia's net debt, which the coalition, in opposition, promised to reduce by $30 billion, has smashed through the $300 billion ceiling. The interest paid in hard cash to mostly foreign investors is now above $40 million per day, and the coalition government's net financial liabilities are nearly $600 billion for the first time ever.
As a proud senator representing the great Australian population and our economic future, I believe we need to reintroduce the debt ceiling, which was abolished in 2013, to keep the government's spending accountable so that we are not stealing prosperity from tomorrow and spending it today. A case in point: Julie Bishop, the foreign minister, thought it wise to give $90 million to a foreign education program, despite Australian schools ranking 39 out of 41 European Union and OECD countries. She is a member of parliament and supposed to be representing Australia! As One Nation, our economic policy is to manage the economy in such a way that we can assist Australians and small business so that we can create wealth, not destroy our inherent wealth by debt levels which each and every Australian has to pay back by way of tax. With ridiculous levels of debt spiralling out of control, we are committing economic suicide at the expense of the next generation.
Senator Ketter, in his comments, rattled off the names of all these economists. I go back to my maiden speech in 1996, when I said I wouldn't have an economist do my grocery shopping—that's how much faith I put in them. Where the dollars should be spent, how they should be spent, comes down to common sense. They should be put into infrastructure projects that will give Australians jobs. I could show the chamber a graph showing the increasing debt to GDP, which is now at 41 per cent, as I stated previously.
It is the duty of every political party to rein in this ever-increasing debt by reintroducing the debt ceiling. The waste must stop. Budgets based on elections must stop. Australia must begin to live within its means.