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Wednesday, 28 May 2008
Page: 3524


Mr WINDSOR (1:39 PM) —I move amendment (1) circulated in my name:

(1)    Schedule 1, after item 3, page 3, insert

4 At the end of paragraph 25-1(2)(d):

Add:

“or

              (e)    a four-wheel drive vehicle that is registered in a rural area.”

This amendment to the Tax Laws Amendment (Luxury Car Tax) Bill 2008 is designed to exempt a four-wheel drive vehicle registered in a country area. I raised this issue in the second reading debate, but for the benefit of those who were probably not listening I will reiterate a couple of facts. As I said then, I am delighted to see the Assistant Treasurer in the House today. I have spent some time with him in a four-wheel drive vehicle on some very rough roads in the Pilliga Scrub looking at various things and up in the area of Nowendoc. He would—or should, given his history—fully appreciate the need for four-wheel drive vehicles on some country roads.

I made the point earlier that a four-wheel drive vehicle is not a luxury to those people who are trying to look after their families in areas where roads can be quite trying. Roads can be very rough. There can be wash-outs, water, mud, corrugations and dust. People in country areas do not have the luxuries of public transport, of paved roads, of tollways or of motorways. Many people have to purchase vehicles that will withstand the arduous roads they have to drive them on. Deputy Speaker Scott, who is in the chair at the moment, would be well aware of some of those road circumstances. I appeal to the government to look at what they are doing with what seems to be rushed taxation legislation. If they do not or will not agree with the amendment, I urge them to lift the threshold of $57,000 for those people who require these vehicles because of the circumstances in which they live—that is, in country areas. This is a tax on a necessity, not a luxury, in these areas.

I am sure that many of the people I am talking about would buy a normal vehicle if governments spent more money on the road network. I made the point earlier that government raises about $14 billion in fuel excise—and there has been a major debate on fuel excise in this place—and spends around $2.5 billion to $2.6 billion on roads, so there is an enormous discrepancy between what is raised and what is spent. As I said earlier, country people do not have the luxury of opting for something else. In the last few weeks we have had constant banter about country people having to produce more food for the starving millions of the world, about country people having to do this and that, and here we are taxing the very people that government and others in the public arena are suggesting will be required to do more to help the growing global population.

I ask all members, particularly the Treasurer and the Assistant Treasurer, to look seriously at this amendment. I could understand the tax, as I said earlier, if someone were to buy a four-wheel drive vehicle worth $100,000 or more with leather and every bit of gadgetry in it. But a very basic LandCruiser, for instance, is over $57,000. In fact, the cheapest LandCruiser is a V8 and so we have a contradictory debate where we are sending people towards heavy fuel use rather than more economical use. Diesel is much more efficient in consumption but, if you buy a diesel LandCruiser—and many other four-wheel drive vehicles are the same—it will cost $12,000 to $15,000 more and be considered a luxury. (Time expired)