Speech on a Matter of Public Importance: Fiscal Policy

04 December 2013

Available on the Hansard or below:

December 04, 2013 at 3:40pm

Dr CHALMERS (Rankin) (15:40): The Australian people would be scratching their heads about the behaviour of those opposite when it comes to the debt cap. 

Wasn't this supposed to be some kind of debt emergency? Weren't they supposed to be against more debt? Didn't the now Treasurer say to the Press Club in May this year that for the good of the country we need to stop increasing debt as quickly as possible? And the year before didn't the Treasurer say that there is no justification for an increase in the credit card limit of the Commonwealth government whilst they are claiming to live within their means? Didn't the now Prime Minister say in 2011, as the shadow Treasurer said, that borrowing extra money was like saying to your bank manager: 'Look mate, I've got my spending under control. Can you extend my credit limit?'

Didn't they say that they would not work with the Greens? Didn't they say that the Greens were economic fringe dwellers? Didn't they call year after year, whenever there was a policy change or some kind of development, for the government to release the books to update the Australian people on the nature of the Australian budget? All of those things are ringing a few bells. In the language of social media: WTF! That was then and this is now. The reality of their approach to the economy now is that there is a vast difference—

Mr Wyatt: The terminology within tweeting those three letters is inappropriate for this parliament and I ask that they be withdrawn.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Hon. BC Scott ): I am unfamiliar with it, but I will take the member for Hasluck's comments as being relevant and I ask the member for rank and to withdraw.

Dr CHALMERS: I withdraw, Deputy Speaker. The reality of their approach to the economy is that there is a vast difference between what they said before the election and what they are doing now. Now they want to eliminate the debt ceiling on the national credit card, an extraordinary proposition from people who told Australians they wanted less debt and not more. They said less debt, then they said double the debt, and then they said, 'Let her rip.' They said, 'Open for business and open the books,' and now they say, 'Open the floodgates and open the throttle.' From 'Sloppy Joe' to 'Jelly-back Joe,' from Jekyll to Hyde, in record time. They said they would spend less and then the Treasurer gave away $12 billion in two weeks without explanation in the case of the RBA giveaway and without justification when it came to ripping off middle Australia to fund superannuation tax breaks for 16,000 wealthy Australians.

Now they are in bed with the Greens on economic policy, just like they were in bed with the Greens on the Malaysian people swap. And now the debt emergency has become a credibility emergency for a new Treasurer. No wonder the member for New England is regarded as the real Treasurer on that side of the House. The member for North Sydney is unable to utter a word that is not written and authorised by the National Party or funded by Gina Reinhart. The charitable view is that the now Treasurer did not give a moment's thought to any of this before he got the job, that in four years as shadow Treasurer he did not get around to forming a view on any of the important economic and fiscal issues. We saw a bit of evidence of that today as he wandered around whingeing and whining about the national accounts, all of the excuses and political lines that we get from him in the absence of any credible analysis of the national accounts.

That is the charitable view. There is a more sinister interpretation that the Australian people need to be aware of what this is all about. Opening the spending floodgates now, shovelling money to the RBA and the wealthiest in our community, blowing out the deficit is all about one thing and one thing only: constructing a budget emergency of their own, creating an excuse for the swinging axe that will come when the 'Commission of Cuts' reports. It is an axe that will hit Middle Australia hard if their cuts to the schoolkids bonus and low-income super contributions are anything to go by—a preview of the nastiness to come.

This Treasurer comes in here all puffed up, full of self-congratulation, so proud of himself, always going for the cheap laugh over the hard yards. If those opposite think we would give a limitless credit card— (Time expired)