Thursday, 5 March 2015

Speech in Parliament - Intergenerational Report: 2015 - 5 March 2015

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (15:52): What an extraordinary MPI this is. All year, the shadow Treasurer has been demanding the release of theIntergenerational report. In question time, he asked not one question of the Treasurer, and his entire contribution of 10 minutes avoided the very topic. He just pulled out his talking points. He was exceeded only by the member for Fraser, who dusted off all his silly jokes that we have all heard before, and dusted off his inequality book, and in he came. And who is the shadow Assistant Treasurer? Then we have the member for Chifley. He is actually a little bit smarter than them both. The member for Kooyong would agree with this. He thought, 'I haven't got time to read it, but I'll put a few sticky tabs inside the book. I'm not sure what pages they are on.' All three of them refused to deal—

Opposition members interjecting —

Mr TONY SMITH: Oh, they are going to come home strong. It was only publically released at midday, so maybe the last speaker on the Labor side will have had time to actually read it and talk on the topic of our demographic destiny, and, under you, what was our massive debt destiny. That is the other word you did not hear from any of them: debt.

Ms MacTiernan interjecting—

Mr TONY SMITH: Let's go through some of Labor's history, and for the member interjecting over there this will be a revelation, because you have been to reprogramming school. Let's take you through what actually happened. Let's go back to 2011, when Labor decided to put Australia into massive debt. In 2011 we had $45 billion in the bank, and Labor decided to ram us into massive debt and deficit. Back then, four years ago, the now Leader of the Opposition had this to say in the parliament: 'At the peak, under Labor's economic stewardship, which is represented in its flagship, the budget, net debt will be 7.2 per cent of GDP.'

Today it is double that, because from 2011 they ran deficit after deficit. As the member for Higgins pointed out, today it is 15 per cent of GDP. As the member for Higgins and the member for Kooyong pointed out, we have had a debt destiny under Labor. What the Intergenerational report, a Treasury document, points out is where we were going, where we are now heading and where we can be if we take responsible decisions. If we had done as those opposite suggested, and done nothing, as the documents point out we would have reached 122 per cent of GDP in 2054-55. Under decisions already legislated, net debt is projected to reach 57.2 per cent of GDP. If we had done nothing, as the member for Kooyong rightly pointed out, we would be right up there heading towards Greece. The graph on page 53, produced by the Treasury, shows just that.

But for those opposite that is not a worry. In fact, the shadow Treasurer, whenever asked about debt, says our net debt is not as high as other countries. In other words, he looks to the worst not as something to avoid, but as some sort of ambitious target. For those opposite, back in 2011 7.2 per cent of GDP was not a problem. Today they are saying 15 per cent is not a problem. They have no plan for how they would bring it down. They owe the Australian people a straight answer. This is a question Labor will be asked every day in this parliament: what level of net debt does Labor think Australia should have? What should it have today? What are they comfortable with? What should it have tomorrow? What should be in the generations ahead? If we had done nothing, and we had taken your advice, the future would be the present that those European countries have today. (Time expired)

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