Swan accuses Opposition of fear-mongering

Treasurer Wayne Swan has dismissed Opposition concerns over budget debt as “fiscal fear-mongering”.

Speaking during a fiery question time today Mr Swan also compared the Opposition to the Tea Party in the United States.

Mr Swan levelled the accusations at shadow treasurer Joe Hockey when responding to repeated questions about the level of peak gross debt in last night’s budget.

Mr Hockey asked whether the $300 billion gross debt cap would be raised, given the projected gross debt peak of $356 billion under forward estimates in the budget.

“Why don’t you have the courage to increase the gross debt cap under your watch?” Mr Hockey said.

Mr Swan dismissed the question: “If it were necessary to lift the debt cap, we would lift it, but it is not necessary,” he said.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard was also under scrutiny and responded to claims from the Opposition that the budget offered the Australian people “no hope”.

Ms Gillard cited the national disability insurance scheme and Gonski education reforms as examples of “hope” within the budget.

When asked why the government had not delivered on the promised surplus, Ms Gillard blamed the high Australian dollar and a hangover from the global financial crisis.

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