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Tuesday, 9 February 1999
Page: 2180


Mr CREAN —My question is addressed to the Treasurer. How does the Treasurer explain his repeated claims that the GST will create jobs when world renowned modeller Professor Peter Dixon has told the Senate inquiry the GST will cost up to 100,000 jobs—

Government members interjecting


Mr SPEAKER —Order! The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has the call and is entitled to be heard in silence.


Mr Ross Cameron —On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I refer to standing order 142, and House of Representatives Practice at page 511, which says:

It has . . . been held to be out of order to ask a question . . . which refers to proceedings in committee, including select committees, not reported to the House.

This is the second question of this nature. The Senate select committee is entitled to conduct its inquiries unmolested by the opposition.


Mr SPEAKER —The question is entirely in order and is consistent with questions that have been asked on this subject in the last session and this session of parliament.


Mr CREAN —Thank you, Mr Speaker. I know why they do not want it reported. But how does the Treasurer explain his repeated claims that the GST will create jobs when world renowned modeller Professor Peter Dixon has told the Senate inquiry the GST will cost up to 100,000 jobs in the long run and when the government's modeller of choice, Chris Murphy, told the inquiry that the GST is `not about creating jobs' and when your own department, Treasurer, has admitted it has not modelled the GST job impact?


Mr COSTELLO (Treasurer) —I am very pleased to talk about Peter Dixon's report; I have it here. It is called The government's tax package: further analysis based on the Monash model . Let me read it out:

Employment will be stimulated in the short run by 30,000 jobs.

Their big point is that they are opposing a policy which will only create 30,000 jobs. Oh, what a terrible policy! So do you know what the Senate committee said? It said to Peter Dixon—


Mr Crean —Read the full report.


Mr COSTELLO —Look, I will read you the full report if you have got time for 50 pages.


Mr Crean —Yes.


Mr COSTELLO —I will read it for both of us.

Opposition members interjecting


Mr SPEAKER —Order! The same courtesy I expected government members to extend to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition it is reasonable to expect opposition members to extend to the Treasurer. He is entitled to be heard in silence.


Mr COSTELLO —After the Labor Party appointed modeller Professor Dixon said that the government's tax package would stimulate in the short run 30,000 jobs, the Senate then said, `We do not like that. We want you to make another assumption.' The Senate committee said, `Why don't you assume that there is a wage break-out?' In other words, `Why don't you assume that, notwithstanding the fact that everybody gets personal income tax cuts and has higher after tax take home pay, the first thing they do, once they get higher after tax take home pay, is they go for a wage increase? Why don't you assume that?' If you do assume that, you can feed it into his model and say a wages break-out costs jobs. Is that telling us anything we do not know? We learned under Labor how a wages break-out costs jobs. All that illustrates again is the importance of the government holding the line on wages, which is what we have been doing. As Senator George Campbell said of the wages break-out in 1981, `A hundred thousand dead men hanging off the belts of the ACTU'. Who are the former ACTU presidents in this House?


Mr Reith —There they are.


Mr COSTELLO —We now have Mark Latham publishing his book Civilising Global Capital


Mr Crean —Mr Speaker, on a point of order on relevance: the Treasurer said he was going to read Professor Dixon's report. Professor Dixon's report says that 30,000 jobs could be got without the GST. Why don't you be honest, Treasurer?


Mr SPEAKER —Order! The Deputy Leader of the Opposition cannot expect the protection of the chair if he abuses the forms of the House.


Mr COSTELLO —I have been doing some interesting reading recently. I have been reading Civilising Global Capital by Mark Latham. I have been reading Out of the Rut , which has got a chapter by Lindsay Tanner. There is another book coming out on Friday which I am awaiting very, very eagerly. This is not a shadow ministry, this front bench; this is a book club! They are writing books to each other, and the book I am really waiting for is the one from the shadow Treasurer entitled, `Why Mark and Lindsay are Wrong, by S. Crean'—stop the clock, back to the future.