Parliament divided over Australian debt ceiling rise


Wed, Nov 13, 2013 - Page 6

Australia’s government faces stiff resistance in parliament to increasing the country’s public debt ceiling by two-thirds to A$500 billion (US$467 billion). Opposition parties are refusing to support the plan.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said yesterday that a bill to increase the current A$300 billion limit will go to parliament the following day.

The government warns that the ceiling will be exceeded next month and wants the legislation passed this week.

However, the main opposition Labor Party said it would only support an increase to A$400 billion unless the government provided new economic evidence that that would be inadequate.

The minor Greens party rejected the government’s proposal and offered no compromise.

Abbott’s coalition government does not hold a majority in the Australia Senate and would need the support of Labor or the Greens to pass the legislation.

Labor’s leader Bill Shorten accused the government of avoiding scrutiny of its spending policies.

“What they didn’t win in the election is the right to run up debt like a drunken sailor and simply to just say: Trust us,” Shorten said.