Page 1982 - Week 07 - Wednesday, 15 May 2013

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But this is a federal government that, of course, promised not to introduce a carbon tax. This is a federal government that promised to introduce tax cuts to then offset that carbon tax once it was introduced but has now reneged. This is a government that promised to increase family payment packages but has now reneged. This is a government that promised not to increase taxes on superannuation but has now reneged. This is a government that promised—and local members, Gai Brodtmann, Andrew Leigh and Senator Lundy, promised it—there would be no cuts to the public service. But that, of course, we all know, has occurred.

By stealth and in total denial of our federal members—and I am yet to hear anyone opposite criticise the government for these cuts, although I did hear the Treasurer use the “cut” word yesterday, I think, for the first time—they promised not to means-test the private health insurance rebate. They promised not to increase the Medicare levy and, best of all, they pledged to have budget surpluses. And we can all remember the Treasurer last year choking up as he got to that killer line, “I am delivering four surpluses,” in his sort of Neville Chamberlain-esque way. We all remember Neville Chamberlain saying “peace in our time”, and then we had Wayne Swan last year saying “surpluses in my time”. They were an illusion. They were just an illusion.

But it is an illusion that all Canberrans pay for and, indeed, everybody in Australia will pay for, because we now have total gross debt reaching $300 billion within the forward estimates. We have got Labor’s fifth record deficit in five years. There is no credible path back to surplus. They have reaped $25 billion in higher taxes. Let us not say the revenue has collapsed. The revenue has not collapsed. Revenue has gone up but unfortunately it has not kept pace with Labor’s higher spending.

Indeed, last night this was meant to be a budget—what were the words that the Treasurer used?—for a “stronger economy”, “smarter” and “fairer”. For a stronger economy, why are we getting record deficits now and for budgets to come? If we are to be a smarter nation, why are they reducing funding to higher education? And if we are to be fairer—and let us face it, fairness is about having a job—why are they saying that unemployment will go up to 5.75 per cent? The internal contradictions in the speech, let alone the internal contradictions in the budget documents, are astounding. And it is important that we put on the record that we as a place are not happy with this budget because, as the Chief Minister said, it means that Canberra will now be shouldering the burden of their failures.

The other thing with all of this is: where does it go? Where is the credible path back to surplus? We have got $19.4 billion in debt this year. We have got $18 billion in the coming year, $10 billion in 2014-15 year and, miraculously, it is suddenly back in surplus in the 2015-16 year. There is no credible path here. Robert Gottliebsen said this morning at the Canberra Business Council breakfast at federal parliament, “Watch China, because if China stops buying Australian commodities this will get worse.”

So what does it mean for Canberra? What it means is job cuts. Remember that promise “no job cuts in the federal public service”? Yet 1,262 jobs will be cut from the commonwealth public service in the 2013-14 year. That does not include the 3,000

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