A Matter of Trust

Senator WILLIAMS (New South WalesNationals Whip in the Senate) (17:05): Labor Senator Doug Cameron from New South Wales was spot on the money in media reports today when he said the people of western Sydney do not trust the government. That is being very honest, because I think the people of Australia do not trust this government. They do not trust the government to keep its word on carbon taxes. They do not trust the government to manage money. I noticed an earlier interjection from Senator Thistlethwaite about the extra billion dollars in the New South Wales budget. We know what sort of mess New South Wales inherited from then Treasurer Mr Roozendaal, who does not even know how to register a car. He did not know whether to put the car in his wife's name or his name, yet he was in charge of the RTA—how ironic.

In the budget of May 2009, this government forecast a deficit of $12 billion for the financial year that finished on 30 June this year, the 2010-11 year.

But in the May budget of 2010 that deficit blew out to $22 billion. Then in the midyear economic and fiscal outlook, MYEFO, in around November 2010 that blew out to over $30 billion. In September just past we got the actual facts of the 2011-12 budget: $43.7 billion debt. That is how much this government borrowed in 12 months. But two years earlier they forecast borrowing just $12 billion. To end up borrowing $43.7 billion when your forecast is $12 billion two years earlier is not even a good guess. That is such bad fiscal management it is not even a good guess.

We hear so much about the global financial crisis. This is the most laughable thing of all about this government. Here was a government in 2009, 2010 and 2011 stimulating the economy, borrowing billions and billions, up to a gross debt now of just on $250 billion.

Senator Thistlethwaite: Nine per cent.

Senator WILLIAMS: I will take the interjection from Senator Thistlethwaite. He is not concerned. David Murray, former boss of the Commonwealth Bank, former Future Fund manager, said that between the federal government and the states we are heading to a debt of half a trillion. Does half a trillion worry you, Senator Thistlethwaite? You left Queensland stone motherless broke, with its credit rating downgraded. Now South Australia's credit rating has been downgraded—broke again. You left New South Wales broke. As I said, Senator Cameron has it right: that people cannot trust you; they cannot trust you to manage money.

The funny thing is that while stimulating the economy on 7 October 2009 the Reserve Bank raised interest rates—and in November and in December. We had seven interest rate rises in a row while the government was borrowing money to stimulate the economy. Tell me this, those listening out in radio land: if you are driving your car, do you have your foot on the accelerator and pull the handbrake on at the same time? That is how stupid this fiscal policy was. You are borrowing money to stimulate the economy while the Reserve Bank is putting the brakes on. We had seven interest rate rises in a row, forcing our exchange rate up, causing enormous financial damage to rural Australia, where our exports are put together, put on the boats—where food is grown and mining carried out.

Senator Thistlethwaite: Ten decreases.

Senator WILLIAMS: If Senator Thistlethwaite can find me one economist in the world who says it is good government policy to stimulate your economy while the Reserve Bank is raising interest rates, tell me who it is. Tell me one economy in the world where the reserve bank is raising interest rates and they are stimulating the economy, borrowing money, mortgaging our children's future away to stimulate the economy. That is just an oxymoron. That is crazy. You would not find one economist in the world who would agree with what you have done. Now you have left us in such a financial mess, mortgaging our children's future away. Your history is a disgrace of financial management. You have never delivered a budget surplus in 21 years, and we will highlight this to the Australian people every day of the week until the next election, which will be August next year. It will not be in September, because in September next year Treasury delivers the actual facts of the budget we are in now—this year's financial year, in which we have been promised a surplus. There will be no surplus. The Australian Labor Party does not understand what the word 'surplus' means. It is a word from outer space, something they cannot deliver. All my life, whether it be state government or federal government, it is the Australian Labor Party that sends us broke. And who has to clean up the financial mess? The coalition does—just like the magnificent job former Treasurer Peter Costello did when he inherited a budget of borrowing $10 billion every year, $96 billion worth of debt.

This says it all: when this government came to power in 2007 the credit cap for this government to borrow was $75 billion. They then raised it to $200 billion and wasted so much money on school buildings and pink batts schemes—what a waste of money. It was not infrastructure to help our nation produce more; they wasted it. They go on their money wasting schemes, and here we are now with the debt.

Senator Thistlethwaite: Wasted money on school buildings—that says it all.

Senator WILLIAMS: Go to Inverell, where they pulled down four perfectly good school classrooms. And what did they replace them with? Four new classrooms. The teachers did not want them gone but of course you would not listen. Then your New South Wales government goes and brings in Reed Constructions, who then go broke and we have so many builders not even getting paid. What a financial mess. That is your history in the Australian Labor Party. You must hang your head in shame because your history is sending our nation broke. That is your legacy. (Time expired)