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Tuesday, 20 June 2000
Page: 17704

Mr HORNE (5:50 PM) —I really do not believe it. I do not believe it because I was in Tweed Heads on Saturday. I had the transcript of what Gary Nehl had to say only the day before about how his integrity had been impugned, how he had appealed to that conference, how he had appealed to the Prime Minister and how he had appealed to his colleagues in the National Party to honour the promise, made before the last election, that there would be no GST on rent for 160,000 of the most vulnerable people in the whole of Australia. By coming in here today and accepting the Prime Minister's position on this, the member for Page has just sold out all of those delegates who attended that conference, and who carried that motion to call on the Prime Minister to remove that tax unanimously at that conference.

You have sold them out. I am sorry about that, because all of those delegates expected the full support of the National Party. That is why I am pleased. Don't talk about what happened on Meet the Press. I am quite happy for you to have a copy of this statement indicating that legislation will be introduced into the Senate to remove it, and you will be given the choice of supporting it or voting against it. Your conference called for you to support it. Where are you bound? Are you bound to the ideology of the National Party and the delegates from the conference?

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Jenkins)—Order! The honourable member will direct his remarks through the chair.

Mr HORNE —Are those representatives of the National Party bound to the will of the Prime Minister, of their coalition partner? It has been shown today that they are bound to the will of their coalition partner, the Prime Minister, because the Prime Minister says categorically it is not going to happen. But, as for the confusion that reigns over this, we have heard the member for Page continuing this argument by saying that people will be better off paying 5.5 per cent GST than if the GST were not imposed. We have all seen those slick advertising campaigns such as the get rich campaign—the more you spend the more you save—and that is what it sounds like to me. I also have another theory. Like the member for Page, I can remember the Fraser era. I can remember when the Deputy Prime Minister in those days was the Hon. Doug Anthony and I can also remember—and the member for Page would remember this—that there was often a picture story in a newspaper or a magazine about how our Deputy Prime Minister had a great job. He was running the country from his caravan that he had up there on one of those beautiful beaches on the Tweed coast, a beautiful area, paradise—and I would not blame him. The Anthony family used to go off down to the caravan park and all I can say is that young Larry, who would have only been a toddler in those days, must have had some very bad experiences in that caravan park because he certainly hates the people who live there and he is going to punish them and make them pay 5½ per cent GST.

But let us get to the serious side. I am going to make sure that this statement goes around the 3,000 people who elect to live in this environment in the electorate that I represent, because today Senator Ross Lightfoot said:

These people are lucky. They are no more special than anyone else.


It might be an incentive for them to get houses.

Mrs Crosio —You're joking!

Mr HORNE —That is what Senator Lightfoot said—`It might be an incentive for them to get houses.' The people that I know—and I have been in their homes—are houseproud. They live there because they want to live there. They live there in something that may be the only home that they have ever had. They are proud of it. It is new. It has all modern facilities. Right next door they have a neighbour that they will have a good relationship with. I know the member for Page has got them in his own electorate. I would suggest that you go and just have a talk to these people—sit down and have a cup of tea with them and just find out what delightful places they are. They have a community hall and they often have playing fields—all those sorts of things. They know that if they are crook one day their neighbour may go down to the pharmacist and get their medication. If they are crook, someone may give them a cup of tea. It is their choice: it is the style of life that they want. But we have a government here that is going to not only tax them but deride them and say they are lucky, and it might help them get a house. They are living where they want to live!

It also says something else about this government. The amazing thing about this government is that when it makes a mistake it cannot say sorry. On the day that all coalition members enter into this parliament the word `sorry' is struck from their brain and they are not allowed to utter it. The legislation was undoubtedly put in place because it referred to caravan parks. But we are not talking about caravans. We are talking about manufactured homes that come on the back of a couple of trucks, that are erected on concrete piers, that have verandas and that are fully plumbed. They have the telephone and they are airconditioned. They are a home, but they are a manufactured home and the people do not own the block of land. I will pose another question for you, because this one has been asked of me a number of times. It would appear there is no difference between these people and people who live in Canberra. People who live in Canberra do not own the block of land their house is on; they lease it. Has the government thought of the position of GST with respect to those people?

Have you thought of the position of GST with respect to the lease on that land? Are they paying it too? Are they paying the full 10 per cent? Are they paying 5½ per cent or are they paying none? That will be a very interesting point to look at. What is the difference between someone with a manufactured home on a leased piece of land in a managed estate and a resident of Canberra who has bought a home and owns the home but does not own the land, because you cannot own freehold land in the Australian Capital Territory? It will be interesting to see what happens in the Senate. I have no doubt that the Democrats will have to look at it seriously. They have offered to come along with a mickey mouse `let's go halfway'. We know that is the Democrats—you can never go all the way.

Ms Kernot —Why did they do it wrong in the first place?

Mr HORNE —I do not know, but the member for Page will certainly have his opportunity to support wiping it out, as was called for at the National Party conference at the weekend. I would ask the member for Page and all of the National Party members in this House to consider very seriously their action. Make no mistake: on this side of the House we are perfectly happy if you think there is no issue. If you think there is no issue and you are prepared to support the position of the Prime Minister and say, `We're going to do nothing,' we are quite happy to go to the election on that as an issue. Believe me, the 160,000 people that you have moved against as a government will not forget that a promise was made that there would be no GST on rent. Half a GST on their rent does not make them better off. As the member for Grayndler said, over the next 10 days you will be given the opportunity to support legislation that gets rid of this inequity. It is an opportunity that people on low and fixed incomes deserve. It is an opportunity for you to honour a unanimous decision of the National Party conference that was held last weekend, and I urge you to pay close attention to it. (Time expired)

Opposition members interjecting—