Tuesday, 26 August 2014
Questions without Notice
My question also is to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Abetz. Is the minister aware of any independent warnings about the need to repair the budget and can he detail to the Senate some of the costs of failure to undertake this repair?
I thank Senator Edwards for his question and acknowledge his role as the chair of the Senate Economics Legislation Committee. At the last election both the coalition and Labor committed to getting the budget back under control. At that time, both sides of politics claimed to understand that if action was not taken the task would just get bigger and more difficult. Only last week the Governor of the Reserve Bank gave his view. He said that the economic situation is:
… not catastrophic today, but it is going to be a medium-term issue if we do not address it—
There is ample evidence around the world of countries which do not have this conversation until it is very late and then it is a very hard one to have …
The reason we need to get the budget back under control is that Labor left a legacy of debt and deficit. We are borrowing $1 billion per month just to pay the interest on the debt they racked up in their six years of government. By getting the budget under control, now, we can ensure a better future for tomorrow. Failing to take action today will result in less money in the future for roads, schools, universities and hospitals. That would be unfair.
I say to senators: if you do support jobs, if you do support schools and universities, hospitals and roads, then support our budget strategy. Look at the benefits of repealing the carbon tax: electricity prices are nine per cent lower than they otherwise would have been and gas prices are seven per cent lower. That is real help to families, manufacturing, small business and agriculture. The truth is that if we do not act now, if we let debt and deficit spiral out of control, then we will be saddling— (Time expired)
Just last week the Parliamentary Budget Office, for one, reported:
… there are risks to the economic outlook over the medium term due to uncertainties in the international outlook and as the Australian economy transitions out of the resources investment boom …
They went on to say:
These risks reinforce the need for fiscal consolidation in order to establish a fiscal buffer against the possibility of adverse economic shocks.
I simply say to those opposite: what happens if there is another financial shock when Australia has huge levels of debt and deficit and no cash in the bank? Unless action is taken now we will have very little insulation from a future financial shock. It makes good sense for all Australians that we take action now to ensure that Australia remains in the best possible position to deal with any global uncertainty. (Time expired)
We have had the warnings from the Reserve Bank and the Parliamentary Budget Office. Labor have chosen to ignore those warnings, but can I remind them that it might be a good idea to take note of their own polling. Labor's own pollster found that 'poor economic management and a legacy of debt and deficit were key factors in Labor’s … defeat.' If Labor do not want to listen to the experts of the Reserve Bank and the budget office, so be it, but I thought they might at least want to listen to their own pollster. To make matters worse, Labor are actually opposing $5 billion dollars worth of their very own savings that they took to the last election.
That is how irresponsible, that is how unfair, the Australian Labor Party is. The voters of Australia are now seeing Labor reinforcing their reputation as the economic vandals of this country. (Time expired)