Tuesday, 2 December 2014
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Finance and the minister representing the Treasurer, Senator Cormann. Can the minister update the Senate on the importance of building a stronger economy and repairing the budget?
I thank Senator Canavan for that question. We need to build a stronger economy and repair the budget to ensure that every Australian has the best possible opportunity to get ahead. We need to repair the budget and we need to build a stronger, more prosperous economy to ensure that we can protect our living standards and build better opportunities for the future. At any one point in time in our economy and in our budget, there are things that are directly under our control and there are things that are beyond our control. That is whether the Labor Party and the Greens are in government or the Liberal Party and the National Party are in government, as we are now.
of a price for iron ore of more than $120 a tonne. We reduced that down to just over $90 a tonne in the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook and in the budget. What did Labor say? They said that we were too pessimistic and that we were purposely trying to reduce the level of revenue in order to make the numbers look worse. Guess what? Right now, the iron ore price is hovering at about $63 a tonne. The truth is that whether Labor and the Greens party are in government or we are in government, that would have been the same.
What we do know is that, on the spending side, under Labor things would be so much worse. On the spending side, the Labor Party is opposing $28 billion in savings. Today, the Labor leader, Mr Shorten, has again locked Labor into another $15 billion in additional spending. Whatever the situation in the budget and in MYEFO, under Labor it would be $43 billion worse than under the coalition. (Time expired)
Opposition senators interjecting—
Australia today is sadly less resilient than we should have been and could have been if it had not been for Labor's waste and mismanagement of the budget in government. Under Labor, our terms of trade were the best in 140 years. Under Labor, the price we are able to get for our commodities was the best in 140 years. All those opportunities were squandered. But what Labor did do was lock us into expenditure and expenditure growth into the future well beyond what our nation could afford. Of course, Labor is still at it. Not only is Labor opposing $28 billion in savings over the forward estimates, but we know that Labor wants to bring back another $15 billion in spending that is completely unfunded. At the same time Bill Shorten says he is going to bring the budget back to surplus more quickly. So Labor is going to spend another $7.6 million on foreign aid and is going to bring back the Schoolkids Bonus and the low-income super contribution. Show us where the money is coming from. (Time expired)
Senator Conroy interjecting—
I go back to where I started, Senator Canavan. We need to repair the budget to protect the opportunity and to protect living standards for our children and grandchildren into the future. Right now, Australia is living beyond its means. Labor wants to lock us into a trajectory where we continue to live beyond our means at a time when the record terms of trade and the record prices we were able to get for our commodities are gone for the time being. We need to adjust our spending in order to ensure that it fits within the revenue that we can responsibly collect. I have made the point that whoever was in government now would be confronted with a circumstance where our export income from iron ore exports, in particular, was well below where it was in the past. Of course, we need to take that into account.
I want to congratulate Senators Day and Leyonhjelm for the constructive approach which they took last Thursday in coming forward with alternative proposals. (Time expired)