Happy 'Assassination Day'


Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (18:50): I rise tonight to speak with a sense of excitement. I cannot wait for tomorrow. It is like all your birthdays coming at once. It is 'Assassination Day' tomorrow, and I just cannot wait. My invitation obviously is still in the mail; I have not quite got it, but I think most Australians

Senator Moore: Madam Acting Deputy President, I rise on a point of order on relevance in terms of the previous content. I would like to know how it links to the appropriation bills.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT ( Senator Boyce ): There is no point of order, Senator Moore. Senator Macdonald, we are debating the appropriation bills.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: Of course, and thank you, Madam Acting Deputy President. Senator Moore, wait and see the connection, but you have been in the parliament long enough to know that on appropriations any subject is a matter for discussion. But I do want to confine my remarks to money matters, as you will see. I had spoken for a full 23 seconds before the Labor Party took a point of order. It shows that the Labor Party are certainly very sensitive about the great celebrations tomorrow of 'Assassination Day'. And why shouldn't they be The most rueful political assassination in the history of this parliament occurred one year ago tomorrow.

The parties, I am sure, in the Labor Party particularly, will be interesting to be at. I suspect that 'Assassination Day' tomorrow will be a day to cement the plans for the next assassination, and we know with the Labor Party down at 27 per cent in the opinion polls that, being as ruthless as they are, being only interested in power for power's sake, that the Labor Party will be plotting now to get rid of Ms Gillard and install the next one on the revolving roundabout in the shades of New South Wales.

One of the problems with Ms Gillard, as it was with Mr Rudd, as it is with Labor anywhere, is the inability to manage money. I want to continue mentioning that, because some of my colleagues here were not around in 1996, when the government changed from the last Labor government to the Liberal government. We were told that there was to be a surplus in that year on the current account. When we got into government, of course, we found there was a $10 billion deficit. Not only did it show bad financial management, but it showed an inability to tell the truth and an action by the Labor government to do everything possible to keep the truth from the people of Australiashades of, I might say, 'There shall be no carbon tax under a government I lead'. A promise to the Labor Party means absolutely nothing. Telling untruths when it comes to financial matters is part of their DNA.

Not only was that bad enough, but when the new government came in we found that in fact there was a $96 billion debt owed by the Australian people which it then took the next Howard-Costello government almost nine years to pay offand we did pay it off. It took a lot of constraint. A lot of the programs we would have liked to have funded we could not fund, but we understood the importance of paying off debt and getting surpluses. Of course, in our last several budgets we had annual surpluses, and those surpluses were put aside in the moneybox, so to speak. When we were defeated at the election, we handed to the incoming government a surplus of $60 billion, set aside for a rainy day. That, of course, was spent in less than two years, and we now find ourselves in a situation where Common_wealth net debt levels will rise from $82 billion this year to $107 billion next year, largely to fund the budget deficit and helping to drive up the liabilities incurred for Australia under this Labor government from $200 billion to $227 billion.

While Labor Party peopleor some of themare out celebrating tonight, we are debating a bill that, at five minutes to midnight before the end of the financial year, has this provision in it to allow the debt liabilities to increase beyond what they are now to allow the Labor Party to continue borrowing. I am sure not many Australians would be aware of that. Our current debt, $227 billion, is going to increase. Under the rules and regulations for the governance of Australia there is a limit on what they can borrow, but this bill today will allow the Labor Party to increase the amount of their borrowing beyond what it is at the present time.

David Murray, the former Future Fund boss and former chief executive officer of the Commonwealth Bank, sounded a warning the other day about European and US governments and their sovereign debt crises. He urged governments to heed the lessons of Europe and the US as growing state and federal borrowing pushes their financial liabilities past half a trillion dollars in the new financial year. The net debt levels in the statesall of them Labor states until very recently and, of course, the financial mess that all of the states are in is a result of decades of Labor governmenthave risen from $102 billion this year to $135 billion next year. This will put their net financial liabilities at a record $285 billion. If you add to that the $227 billion that the Com_monwealth has then you understand why people like Mr Murray are sounding warnings. Mr Murray said that these huge debt levels could force private sector to compete for funds as the resource sector booms. Of course, we know what happens when there is competition for money.

The lesson from Europe and the US is that high public indebtedness can lead to significant structural difficulty. The debt crisis in Europe has forced governments to cut public services and pensions, while the US is struggling to raise the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling it hasthey want to try and increase that; they are not having much success in Congressto avoid the United States, would you believe, from defaulting on its debt. We are not quite to that stage, but leave a Labor government here for another few years and we will be. Labor Party people who are oh so concerned, so they say, about the poorer people and the working people should have a look at what is happening in Europe after years of socialist and left-wing governments. They are now cutting pensions in Greece. They are cutting services because the government simply cannot pay for it any longer. That is what is happening and what will happen in Australia if Labor continues to govern in this country.

We have already seen how taxes just keep coming. The carbon tax, the mining tax, the flood levy; on and on it goes. Labor is addicted to debt; it is in their DNA. But they have to understand that you just cannot keep borrowing. You cannot do it in your own household and the country is the same. Someone has to pay back the debt, someone has to pay the interest and someone has to keep borrowing the money to pay the interest so that Australia can keep up the basic services.

That is where I despair. The Labor government has been one continuous episode of mismanagement and waste. We know about the pink batts and we know about the school halls. How much have we spent on the climate change debate in the last term of government, ending up in that failed Copenhagen conference that became a laughing stock The whole Copenhagen climate change thing was so mismanaged by Australia. Just the sheer money, as well as the carbon footprint that others have written about, of going through the routine under the last Labor government's failed approach to climate change. It goes on and on.

I am concerned at the increase in the liabilities from the federal government. Again, I am concerned that in typical form this Labor government is bringing insneaking inat five minutes to midnight before the end of the financial year this bill to further increase the ability to borrow, at a time, as I say, when people are out celebrating the assassination a year ago.

I know the news media tomorrow will be all talk about 'Assassination Day'the one a year ago. There will be a lot of commentary about the 'Assassination Day' coming up. We know from discussions with our Labor Party friends that the situation is getting to an extent where something will happen. When the next assassination happens I think even the Labor Party will have to go to an election, so Labor friends are telling us to look towards September or October: get a new leader, try to get the carbon tax off the agenda, try to get the illegal boat people off the agenda and try to get people to forget about the mining tax so that we can go to an election this year.

It is just becoming untenable. As you heard from the previous debate, the Greens are out there boasting about what they have done to increase taxes yet again, and saying to the Labor Party and the Taxation Office, 'You want more money You want more taxes We're here to help.' I cannot believe that, but I suppose those of us who have followed the Greens for a while at least appreciate their honesty, unlike the Labor Party. At least the Greens are open about it: 'We want to increase taxes, we want to make it more difficult for families in Australia to exist. We want to put more and more pressure on the cost of living.' That is something, of course, that we in the coalition do not want to do.

For the reasons Senator Cormann indicated, we will not be opposing this but we will continue to highlight the financial excesses of this government and their simple inability to deal with money.

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