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Monday, 23 May 2005
Page: 26

Mr BEAZLEY (2:11 PM) —Give them $12 and they will get it straight away!

Mr Randall —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Earlier this year you ruled on the giving of preambles by the Leader of the Opposition; he is doing it again and he should be ruled out of order.

The SPEAKER —The Leader of the Opposition is asked to come to his question.

Mr BEAZLEY —I draw the Prime Minister’s attention to the May 20 Australian Financial Review article titled ‘Coalition to lure donors with secrecy and bigger refund’. Why is the government going to provide secret Liberal Party donors with $2,425 tax refunds but seven million low- and middle-income Australians with only a $6 a week tax cut? Why are the government’s priorities so warped? When will you give working families a fair go?

Mr HOWARD (Prime Minister) —I have got several answers to that question.

An honourable member—Where do you start?

Mr HOWARD —Where do I start? I could start with the $36 million that you could give the working Australian people by handing back the ill-gotten gains of Centenary House. But let me simply say that, in relation to the disclosure limits, I remind the parliament that when the legislation about disclosure was introduced by the former Labor government a threshold of $1,000 in 1984 was fixed. That was increased during the term of the former government to $1,500. I believe that there is a case for further increasing it; I make no bones about that.

I notice that the Leader of the Opposition has been running around talking about corruption. Can I say to the Leader of the Opposition, through you Mr Speaker, that he does his own party a disservice, as well as a disservice to the party that I am proud to lead and the National Party, by talking about corruption. The reality is that, in the more than 100 years of Federation in this country, politics at a national level has been blessedly free of corruption on both sides. Therefore, all I can say is that in the name of cheap populism the Leader of the Opposition does as great a disservice to his own party as he does to the Liberal Party of Australia. There is a case for adjusting those disclosure levels, just as there is the case for, from time to time, adjusting the levels of tax deductibility of contributions. I do not apologise for saying that, and at an appropriate time we will give attention to the matter.