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Wednesday, 28 June 2000
Page: 18460


Mr BEAZLEY (3:13 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister. Prime Minister, I ask you yet again: is it not a fact that, on Saturday, Australian motorists will be paying more tax on each litre of petrol because of your GST?


Mr HOWARD (Prime Minister) —I repeat what I have said on earlier occasions: at present—

Opposition members interjecting


Mr SPEAKER —The member for Bendigo, the member for Melbourne and the Manager of Opposition Business! There is no obligation facing the Prime Minister to answer a question that has already been extensively answered on two previous occasions. He has responded to the question, and I have recognised him. I will not tolerate this level of interjection.


Mr HOWARD —I repeat what I have said on earlier occasions: that is, at present, total Commonwealth excise collections are in the order of 44c a litre. Those collections are based on a certain set of Commonwealth-state financial relations. As the Leader of the Opposition and the members of the opposition frontbench know, those Commonwealth-state financial relations will change dramatically as from Saturday when the new revenue sharing arrangements come into operation whereby the states receive the full proceeds of the GST revenue.

In those circumstances—and I say this very directly in answer to all of the questions that have been asked by the opposition on this revenue comparison point—if the current collections of 44-odd cents a litre are based on a certain set of arrangements and those arrangements, as they unarguably will, totally change on Saturday, then the only basis of comparison is the total Commonwealth excise collections. As everybody knows, those total Commonwealth excise collections will fall—



Mr HOWARD (Prime Minister) —The Deputy Leader of the Opposition always interjects at the right time. The total Commonwealth excise collections are 44.13c a litre. That is based on certain revenue sharing arrangements between the Commonwealth and the state.


Mr McMullan —And on the GST.


Mr HOWARD (Prime Minister) —Those revenue sharing arrangements will change for all time on Saturday. In those circumstances, the only proper basis of comparison is total Commonwealth excise collections now and total Commonwealth excise collections after Saturday. The figure now—and this is directly relevant to the question asked by the Leader of the Opposition—


Mr McMullan —No, it is not.


Mr SPEAKER —The Manager of Opposition Business is deliberately and persistently defying the chair.


Mr HOWARD (Prime Minister) —The total Commonwealth excise collections now are 44.13c a litre. As from Saturday they will fall to 37.48c a litre. In those circumstances, there is a total change. I know that the question that is constantly asked by the Leader of the Opposition and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition completely ignores the reality that on Saturday the Commonwealth-states financial relations will change. The existing excise arrangements are based upon an understanding between the Commonwealth and the states in relation to financial arrangements. That understanding will totally change on Saturday. Therefore, to compare one set of excise arrangements with another without taking that into account, which the opposition has sought to do, is completely misleading. That is why I assert that the only proper comparison is the total Commonwealth excise collections. They will plainly and unarguably fall by something of the order of 6.7c a litre, and the figure will go from 44.13c to 37.48c. In those circumstances, the assertion made by the Leader of the Opposition is wrong.