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Thursday, 20 September 2007
Page: 83


Mr HARTSUYKER (2:35 PM) —My question is addressed to the Treasurer, a man who understands tax policy, unlike the Leader of the Opposition. Would the Treasurer inform the House of the importance of good tax policy to the Australian economy? Is the Treasurer aware of any alternative approaches?


Mr COSTELLO (Treasurer) —I thank the honourable member for Cowper for his question. I wish him well in the forthcoming election against the trade union candidate that the Labor Party is running against him.


Mr Albanese —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The minister is misleading the House. That is not true.


The SPEAKER —The member will resume his seat. That is not a point of order.


Mr COSTELLO —I thank the honourable member for Cowper. There is a 70 per cent chance that, if you are running in the next election, the Labor Party candidate will be a trade union official of one kind or another. I wish him all the best in his election activity.

Australia’s tax scales are 15 per cent, 30 per cent, 40 per cent and 45 per cent. They compare to the Labor Party’s tax scales when it left office of 20 per cent, 34 per cent, 43 per cent and 47 per cent. Not only have all the tax rates come down but, because thresholds have increased—for example, under Labor—


Mr Danby interjecting


Mr COSTELLO —The member for Melbourne Ports asks me: ‘What were they?’ Under Labor, your first dollar over $50,000 was taxed at 47c in the dollar. No wonder the member for Melbourne Ports interjects. Yes, it is true. It was taxed at 47c in the dollar for each dollar—


Mr Danby interjecting


The SPEAKER —The member for Melbourne Ports will not respond. I warn the member for Melbourne Ports!


Mr COSTELLO —The member for Melbourne Ports interjects again. Let me remind him: under the Labor Party, you were taxed at 47c in the dollar for each dollar over $50,000. Under the coalition, once you go over $50,000 you will not be taxed at a marginal tax rate higher than 30 per cent. That is real tax reform, and it is real tax reduction.

Yesterday, the Leader of the Opposition was asked to name the tax rates and the tax thresholds. He was unable to name a single tax rate. He was unable to name the 15 per cent rate. Was he able to name the 30 per cent rate?

Government members—No!


Mr COSTELLO —Was he able to name the 40 per cent rate?

Government members—No!


Mr COSTELLO —Was he able to name the 45 per cent rate?

Government members—No!


Mr COSTELLO —Was he able to name any rate?

Government members—No!


Mr COSTELLO —What he named was a threshold that does not exist. The spin merchants of the Labor Party yesterday were saying: ‘Mr Rudd’s office said he had made a mistake. He was just $5,000 out, not the $25,000 the government claimed.’ He was $25,000 out—but that is not the point. The point is that he did not know a single rate, let alone a threshold.

Enter stage right, the member for Lilley. The member for Lilley had another explanation as to why the Leader of the Opposition should be excused. Have a listen to this: the member for Lilley was asked this morning:

... don’t you need to know where you’re going from to where you’re going to?

That is not bad. The member for Lilley said:

We absolutely know where we’re going to, because you see, we authored the current tax cuts that are in the system.

Listen to this:

Eighty-five cents in every dollar of tax cuts in this year’s Budget were authored by the Labor Party.

Blow me down! When I wrote that budget speech, I did not realise my hand had been overcome by the Labor Party. It is getting pretty spooky, isn’t it? My budgets are now being authored by the Labor Party. If I really believed that, I would stand down.

But it gets even spookier. Members will know that the Leader of the Opposition specialises in asking himself questions and giving the answers. The reason he specialises in asking himself questions is that they are the only ones he can answer. He got on Today Tonight last night and he said:

“Someone asked me the other day ‘Who do you model yourself on?”‘ And I said, ‘Ah... Kevin’. I’m just me.”

That is pretty spooky because now he is modelling himself on himself. Last year he was modelling himself on Dietrich Bonhoeffer. But he has found an even better role model now. ‘Move aside Dietrich. I am now modelling myself on myself,’ he says. He is now authoring tax rates that he does not know exist. He is now auditioning for a job that he is not up to. That is the most important point: he is authoring, auditioning, for a job that he is not up to. He has not done the work, he does not understand the economy and he is not ready to be a leader in Australia.


Mr Kerr —Mr Speaker, I would ask the Treasurer to table the document that he was reading from, with all the rates that he was referring to.


The SPEAKER —Was the Treasurer quoting from a confidential document?


Mr Costello —I was reading from ‘Wayne Swan, doorstop interview, Parliament House, Canberra’, which I table. And I was also reading from ‘Kev’s affair to remember. On the campaign trail’.