Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (15:11): It's always good to follow Senator Wong in a spontaneous debate about answers given by government ministers to questions without notice, without warning in this chamber. Most of us don't know what answers the ministers are going to give, but it's great to follow Senator Wong, who read every word of a written speech that she couldn't deliver by herself but had to read every word of to show the spontaneity of the motion to take note of Senator Cormann's answer! So, well done, Senator Wong—well read!—for a spontaneous response to Senator Cormann's answers. You should have just tabled your speech and saved us all five minutes of our day.
On the substantive issue Senator Wong raised, as Senator Cormann says, every time the G20 has met, for the last four times, who's gone to it? The Prime Minister and the finance minister. And what is happening this time? The Prime Minister and the finance minister are going, exactly as they have done on the last four occasions at least. And suddenly the ALP, with their huge hypocrisy, make an issue of this. Why didn't they make an issue of this the last time it happened, or the previous time it happened, or the previous previous time it happened? They didn't make an issue of it then because they show their rank hypocrisy by raising this matter today—raising as an issue something that has happened as a matter of course on the last four occasions. It shows the desperation of the Labor Party to get into government, to measure for curtains this afternoon. They are so arrogant. The hubris is just reeking, and you heard that prepared 'spontaneous' speech by Senator Wong then as an example of this. Every time on the last four occasions, Australia has been represented by the Prime Minister and by Senator Cormann as finance minister.
Senator Wong made some issue about Mr Frydenberg—who is the Treasurer, in case she hadn't realised—having to do some work. We all know the budget has been brought forward by more than a month. Those of you who have been in government—and I can't see any over the other side who ever have been—would appreciate that the work on the budget actually starts now. The Expenditure Review Committee has already met on several occasions, I understand. Ministers and their departments are working on it now—not on the week before the budget, as Senator Wong thinks might happen. The hard work is done several months before the budget.
Mr Frydenberg, as the Treasurer, will be working very hard, as Senator Cormann said, to get the budget in order, because we want to continue the sorts of budgets that we have brought down in the last five years. We want to deliver a budget that will take us into surplus next year, for the first time in years, including the six years of the Labor government and the five years for which we have had to try to correct the mess that Labor left us. Those of you who have been here for a while will know that when Labor took office there was $60 billion in credit. When Labor left office there was a debt that was approaching, and would have got to, $800 billion if there hadn't been a change of government.
Mr Frydenberg has a big job to continue the economic success that has been displayed by coalition governments over the last five years, and he's determined to do it. He will be working day and night from now until 2 April to make sure that we continue a budget that enables our Australian economy to move ahead. As Senator Cash said during question time, if you have surpluses, if you make a lot of money and your budget runs in credit, you can buy for hospitals, you can buy for schools, you can buy roads and you can buy infrastructure. You've got to have the money to do that, and that's what Mr Frydenberg will be working on over the next six months. (Time expired)