I am a bit confused, because I do not think the opposition know where they are heading with this budget. They do not particularly want to talk about last night's budget, they want to talk about last year's budget.
That is fine, if they want to do that, because we absolutely recognise and stand behind the fact that we did need to make tough decisions last year. We did need to make some difficult and necessary choices for the Australian people because the path we were on was completely unsustainable. Those decisions were made.
They want to talk about last year's budget because that is in their political interest. There were very few questions today in question time about last night's budget, because last night's budget builds on those tough decisions we made last year and allows the Australian people to start reaping the dividends of those tough choices. You are never able to deliver success in life before you do hard work. The only place in the world where success comes before work is in the dictionary. We had to do the hard work last year before we delivered success to the Australian people.
I am confident that last night's budget will build confidence in our economy, particularly among small businesses and farmers. They will then have the confidence to invest and create the jobs and opportunity that only they can create. We cannot do that here, unfortunately. As much power as we think we have, we cannot wave a magic wand and make people have a job and opportunity. We must rely on the individual enterprise of all Australians to bring that about. Last night's budget will help achieve that.
Last night's budget enshrines the fact that taxes will be lower under a coalition government, and that will create more opportunity and confidence in our business sector. Under the previous government revenue as a percentage of GDP was escalating, going through the roof. You will not hear them talk about it. What you need to look at is not the Labor Party's last budget but the pre-election forecasts done by Treasury and Finance. When you look at the independent numbers that were done before the election, our revenue to GDP was going through the roof, because they came to government when our taxes or revenue to GDP were just 23.3 per cent of GDP. By the election, it had escalated or had gone down and then back up. Under the pre-election forecasts our taxes to GDP were going to raise to 23.9 per cent of GDP, then to 24.6 per cent of GDP and then finally, in the last year of those forward estimates, 2015-16, to 24.8 per cent of GDP.
Every one of those numbers is now lower. In that final year, the revenue to GDP was 24.2 per cent of GDP, then 24 the previous year and then 23.5.
Senator O'Neill: "You've killed off confidence; it's gone through the floor. You're going to 25.8!"
What they do not quite understand on the other side is that when your economy grows you get higher taxes to GDP. We had a weak economy under the former government, and that is why taxes to GDP fell precipitously in their first years of government. They had plans, in similar years to us, to increase taxes to GDP. If you compare year to year, and that is the appropriate comparison, taxes are now lower under a coalition government than they would have been under a Labor government. They wanted to hit our wealth-producing industries with a carbon tax and a mining tax and put jobs at risk across the whole economy. We are serious in this government.
I want to take up some of the points that Senator Sterle raised. It is about last year's budget—which they continue to want to talk about. We are serious about achieving serious reform of our spending system. So much of our spending goes towards health and education, but we are on an unsustainable path in growth of those particular spending initiatives. I do not know if the Labor Party reads the budget papers, but on page five of 23 the budget paper states that we spend around $18 billion a year on public hospitals. It is growing at somewhere between six and seven per cent a year at the moment. If that rate of growth continues for 40 years, hospital spending alone will take a third to 50 per cent, depending on how you measure it, of our Commonwealth budget. We cannot do that; it would be absurd.
Somebody has to be serious here. Some serious people have to sit down and work out how we can deliver the great hospital services we have in this nation affordably. We are the party that is about serious discussions in our nation, about how we can grow jobs and opportunity and a sustainable Public Service. The other side simply wants to oppose. We cannot return to that path.