I spoke in parliament about the economic challenges facing the government, around jobs, growth and productivity.
JOBS, GROWTH AND PRODUCTIVITY
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
26 FEBRUARY, 2014
In these bills the government is requesting that parliament approve additional expenditure of around $14.8 billion, which largely reflects the government’s decisions outlined in the 2013-14 Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook.
Let me say from the outset that the Opposition do not oppose the passage of the three appropriations bills we are debating in the parliament today. Without denying this bill being read a second time, I move:
That all the words after “That” be omitted with a view to substituting the following words:
“whilst not declining to give the bill a second reading the House notes that:
(1) the Government repeatedly stated before the election ‘that if debt is the problem, more debt is not the answer’;
(2) the 2013-14 Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook showed a $17 billion blow-out in the 2013-14 budget deficit, which at the time represented a $167 million budget blow-out per day since the Government took office;
(3) 60 per cent of the predicted budget blow-out in 2013-14 was due to the decisions of the Government alone;
(4) the Government has sought to pave the way for deep cuts to the federal budget by deliberately blowing out the budget and establishing its Commission of Audit; and
(5) these cuts would be another example of this Government saying one thing before the election, and doing the complete opposite after it.”
What we have continually seen from this government is that they do one thing after the election having said the complete opposite before the election. We have a litany of examples: the Renewable Energy Target, jobs, taxation, cuts to health and education, and this particular case—the budget.
We had a lot of slogans from the Coalition prior to the election and we still hear them today. There is one that I would like to bring up—the slogan: ‘If debt is the problem, more debt is not the answer’. If more debt was not the answer, why did the government do a deal with the Greens to legislate for unlimited debt? And what about the issue of this budget emergency? We heard, saw and read an awful lot about that from the coalition prior to the election, but when we actually saw the Abbott government’s MYEFO last year, the first budget document to be published under the new government, we saw a nearly $17-billion budget blow-out for 2013-14, more than a 50 per cent increase in the budget deficit, 60 per cent of which was due to decisions of this government. And that blow-out, with a deficit of $30 billion to $47 billion, represented a huge amount every day—$160 million per day.
The component of the budget deficit that did not represent increased expenditure was as a result, largely, of changes in assumptions. We learned yesterday morning from the Secretary of the Department of Finance, David Tune, when he spoke to Senate estimates, that the estimates in MYEFO had dropped the former Labor government’s fiscal rules which limited real spending growth. Mr Tune confirmed to Senate estimates that this change in assumptions increased MYEFO’s projections for the size of the budget debt over the decade to 2023-24.
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