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No urgency on debt ceiling: Greens

Media Release
Christine Milne 2 Dec 2013

"There is no crisis but there is an opportunity," Greens Leader Christine Milne said.

"At the moment the government can incur debt and hide it in incomprehensible budget papers so that no one knows how it is being spent.

"We have an opportunity to rule out having this phoney West Wing debate. We have an opportunity to make sure the public knows whether we are incurring good debt or bad debt and what the implications are.

"The Coalition wants to create a false feeling of crisis and brinkmanship to bully their way through the parliament on debt, but Treasury Secretary Martin Parkinson made it clear during Senate estimates that there was no urgency to go beyond $400 billion in the coming financial year.

"Rather than having a debate over the level of debt, we should be talking about, and showing in the budget papers, what the money is being spent on and the extent to which debt is being raised to cover a shortfall in revenue.

"It's time Australia had a much more mature debate about how to fund the long-term infrastructure that the nation needs and for governments to be more upfront and transparent about how projects will be funded. That is the approach the Greens are taking to the debt ceiling.

"If we get rid of the debt ceiling and improve transparency, the Coalition will have no excuses when it comes to investing in the infrastructure our nation wants and needs - like high-speed rail and public transport.

"It's clear that the $400 billion that we have offered the government will be enough to deal with the December deadline and this financial year, but it would be better to put in place long-term accountability mechanisms to deal with this once and for all."

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