Mr Deputy Speaker Mitchell, it is good to see you back in the chamber. I know full well that you know the hardship that is going on in the seat of McEwen with the recent fires. I know the thoughts and prayers of the people from my electorate are going out to that electorate.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Mitchell ): Thanks, mate.
Mr BUCHHOLZ: Today, in the debate on the Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 2013-2014 and the cognate bills, I would like to raise some of the economic underpinnings in the budget and also the effects the bills will have in my electorate of Wright. I would like to speak to three points. Firstly, I would like to outline some of the new packages—in particular, the drought package. I will then go to the economy that we inherited as a government when we came into office. Finally, I will outline the coalition's plans to turn the situation around.
The drought relief package was welcome. It builds on the Labor reforms with reference to the abolishment of exceptional circumstances boundaries in drought affected areas. Under the old scheme, to be considered for drought relief, one first had to meet the approval mechanisms of exceptional circumstances, including being within certain boundaries. Unfortunately, Mother Nature is not that precise when she drops her rainfall. She will drop rain anywhere that she feels is appropriate. Historically, we had circumstances where a farmer in a drought declared area had successfully had three crops in a row while their next-door neighbour, not in a drought declared area, had suffered horrendous drought conditions. In this drought package we make sure that we catch those people and they are not left behind as a consequence of the drought. We assess applications on a needs basis, irrespective of whether or not someone falls within a defined area. That will make an enormous difference to the welfare and livelihood of those affected severely by drought conditions.
In Queensland, that drought package will be administered by the QRAA, the Queensland Rural Adjustment Authority. Each state will have its own state body to administer the funds. I commend the QRAA for what they have done to date in administering the package. I encourage states to constantly review the guidelines so that we do not have too many people falling through the cracks, not being able to qualify for assistance because they do not meet the requirements in paragraph 3(a) on page 52. The guidelines must be constantly amended so that we do not leave people behind, we preserve their livelihoods and we preserve, in many cases, many generations of investment.
I would like to talk about the economy that we inherited and, in particular, remind the Australian public and the people of Wright that Labor inherited a $20 billion cash surplus but left a deficit of no less than $30 billion. In addition to that, an enormous amount of money, roughly $8 billion, was—and I will use the word lightly—raped from the Reserve Bank. Those cash reserves from the Reserve Bank need to be replenished. Labor turned nearly $50 billion in the bank into net debt well over $200 billion. The mind boggles as to how quickly that happened. In fact, I think it was the fastest deterioration of debt in dollar terms and as share of GDP in modern Australian history. That is quite a feat. A professor out of Harvard University—previously an economist with the IMF, the International Monetary Fund—Professor Ken Rogoff, wrote a report some time back, in which he stated that Australia's debt was the fastest-growing debt in the OECD. Labor's debt is already costing $10 billion a year in net interest payments. I will break that down, because it is so easy for a million or a billion to roll off the tongue, and it is hard for anyone to comprehend that amount of money. If you work it back to a fiscal basis, it works out to just under $500,000 every hour. So, in the time it takes for a few speakers to speak here tonight, we will have racked up another half a million dollars worth of interest on our debt bill. The fastest-rising, single line item on the balance sheet of Labor's budget was interest. That is a remarkable achievement. As a consequence, it is the future generations of this nation, the future generations of my electorate, who will be burdened with that debt.
Under Labor, the jobless queue grew by over 200,000 compared with a decline of approximately 250 under the former Howard government. Those on the other side of the House say that during their term of government they raised a million jobs. They forget to mention the jobs that were lost. A million jobs were created during their term—that figure is accurate—but jobs growth was zero in 2011. That means that for every job created, another job was lost. You will hear the Australian Labor Party say in this House that, since the Abbott government has been in power, one job has been lost every four minutes. The way they calculated that number is the reason they are not in government anymore—they have trouble with numbers. That is not the jobs lost to date; it is the forecast job losses into the future, as far out as 2017. The other side of this House will say that those are the jobs lost to date.
Again, those sorts of calculations and their inability with numbers are why the Labor side of the House has the lowest representation in the federal parliament since Federation. To put that into perspective for those who will read the Hansard or are listening, this chamber is horseshoe shaped and Labor fill just the first section of chairs on their side. It has been many years since that has been the case. But that is one of the great things about democracy—ultimately, the Australian people hold the power and they said overwhelmingly that they had had enough of the mismanagement, the abuse of power and the relationships between Labor and the union movement. They voiced their opinions and voted at the last election, and the Australian people had their say.
Labor's legacy is 200,000 more unemployed and a gross debt that is projected to be $667 billion. When you look at Labor's forecast in MYEFO, work out their accumulated deficits into the future and add up what their expenditure was going to be, you will find it would be no less than $667 billion, with $123 billion in accumulated deficits. What one could do with $123 billion—the mind boggles. They also had oversight of more than 50,000 illegal boat arrivals and the world's biggest carbon tax.
In the time remaining, I want to turn to the illegal boat arrivals. We saw the clips on the television when the former Labor government wound back the Pacific solution. When that bill passed, we saw them high-fiving and cheering. At that time, I think we had no less than four in detention.
Mr Irons interjecting—
Mr BUCHHOLZ: That is right, member for Swan, they were kissing and hugging in the chamber because they had won the vote to wind back the Pacific solution. But there was no high-fiving and rejoicing every time a life was lost at sea. There was none of that, because they knew quite well that they were pandering to the factionalism within the ALP—factionalism, something one could do a master's degree on and still not completely understand how the personalities revolve around each other.
On asylum seekers, in the last 70-odd days there has not been one boat arrival in Australian waters. That is because we made an election commitment that we were going to make a difference on illegal boat arrivals and turn the economy around—turn domestic confidence around and turn the deficit to surplus. We are so lucky that the Australian economy is resilient. I have some stats here that I will quickly run through. The resilience of this nation will allow us to, hopefully, bring the government to fiscal credibility.
From an economic perspective, Australia is ranked No. 1 in terms of the high proportion of the population with net worth above US$100,000. Australia has the world's 12th highest GDP and fifth highest GDP per capita. Australia has the third largest pool of investment funds under management. Australia is ranked third for economic freedom—and that is from the Index of Economic Freedom. Australia is ranked fourth for the number of new businesses in the world. Australia is ranked fifth on the financial development index. The Australian dollar is the fifth most traded currency—having such a small economy and only 22 million people that is a bizarre statistic; I suspect that is due to the strength of the Australian economy. The Australian Stock Exchange is the world's 10th largest by market capitalisation. With reference to trade, Australia is the No. 1 global exporter of coal, iron ore, aluminium ores and zinc. Australia is the No. 1 global exporter of beef and chick peas. Australia is the No. 2 global exporter of lentils and sugar. Australia is the fourth largest exporter of LNG as of 2012. Australia is the sixth largest exporter of gold as of 2012 and it is the seventh largest exporter of silver.
With reference to education, Australia has the fourth highest number of international students, after the United States of America, the United Kingdom and France. Australia is ranked fifth in the number of universities in the world's top 100.
Australia ranks No. 2 on the UN's Human Development Index after Norway. Australia has the fifth highest life expectancy—the source of that, as of 2011, was the World Bank. Australia has the eighth highest international tourism spend from overseas visitors.
While I come to this place to share the poor record of Labor, I can say that as a nation we are truly resilient. The people in my electorate, Wright—who have seen flood, drought and the high Australian dollar, which has had an enormous impact on their exports—are truly resilient. Under the coalition government, we will return this country and this economy to surplus in the future. We will do it because we are disciplined. We have shown that discipline to be accurate and right when it comes to border security. We will continue that same discipline in the fiscal and economic sectors, in conjunction with our small business partners. Small- and medium-sized enterprises, corporates, mums and dads—everyone who puts their shoulder to the wheel will do so knowing that a coalition government in this country will make a difference.