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Wednesday, 11 November 1998
Page: 108


Mr CREAN —My question is addressed to the Treasurer. Treasurer, is it not a fact that, according to the modelling of your own tax package, a dual income family earning $30,000 or more, with one child, pays only 30c a week extra GST than the same family would without children? Treasurer, is 30c a week enough to cover the extra GST costs for children of food, clothes, books, school uniforms, sport, entertainment, travel and hair cuts? Is it not true that you have grossly understated the GST impact on Australian families?


Mr COSTELLO (Treasurer) —As I think even the member for Hotham should know, the GST has been modelled, on a CPI basis, at 1.9 per cent. Even on the most generous assumption, which is that every household spends 100 per cent of its income, under the government's tax package, each of those households will be better off. We have seen from the opposition outrageous and false claims to the contrary, no more so than on the day before the election when the Australian Labor Party took out ads in newspapers across this country saying, `Secret government figures show GST will cost you five times more than Howard admits'.


Mr Beazley —Mr Speaker!


Mr SPEAKER —Order! The Treasurer will resume his seat.


Mr Beazley —On a point of order, Mr Speaker, as to relevance: this is a very specific question directed at the government's own public figuring, relating to the estimates of the impact on families under their figuring and asking whether or not that 30c is a correct assessment of a family's needs.


Mr SPEAKER —I understand the question. I would rule that the Treasurer's answer is entirely consistent. Given the time he has spent focusing entirely on the GST, he is entirely in order.


Mr COSTELLO —As I said earlier, the Treasury modelling of the impacts of the GST on a CPI basis—the only reliable basis—was 1.9 per cent. The Australian Labor Party, even up until the day before the election, in fabrications put in national newspapers, claimed there was a Treasury analysis showing that the impact would be five times greater. That was completely false.


Mr Beazley —Oh, Mr Speaker! There is no Treasury—


Mr SPEAKER —Wait a moment. The Leader of the Opposition will find that his microphone is not active because I have not, as yet, recognised him. The Leader of the Opposition—I presume on a point of order?


Mr Beazley —Yes, I am on a point of order.


Mr SPEAKER —I call the Leader of the Opposition.


Mr Beazley —I rise on a point of order, Mr Speaker. We are not asking for his hidden Treasury documents. We are asking here about the publicly released figures of the government when it brought down its tax package. The question relates specifically to that.


Mr SPEAKER —The Leader of the Opposition will resume his seat. It strikes me, as the Speaker, that points of order on relevance are rather like asking the cricket umpire for a decision on the light.


Mr Melham —They are occasionally given.


Mr SPEAKER —The member for Banks.


Mr Albanese —Get out the meter.


Mr SPEAKER —The member for Grayndler. Having been alerted to the state of the light, I now have my eye on it, so I will monitor whether or not the answer is relevant.


Mr COSTELLO —No wonder the Leader of the Opposition says he is no longer asking for the documents on the household expenditure survey. No wonder! Before the election he said, in advertisements around the country, which were totally fabricated, that it would come out at five times. What is five times 1.9? It is 9.5 per cent. The advice to this government is and always was that the reliable measure of the price effect of a 10 per cent GST was a consumer price index which was 1.9 per cent, which has been more than adequately compensated for by a four per cent increase in pensions and other measures and which made sure that, contrary to the fabrications of the Australian Labor Party, all quin tiles of taxpayers and income earners would be better off under a better new Australian taxation system.