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Wednesday, 28 May 2008
Page: 3527

Mr WINDSOR (1:54 PM) —I will speak briefly. Having listened closely to the member for O’Connor, I presume that he was supportive of the amendment. The language was supportive. I will be quite interested to see how he and other country members, who recognise fully the circumstances that our vehicles have to endure on our roads and the safety features that the member for O’Connor raised, will vote on this amendment.

One of the interesting by-products of this debate will be to see where the shadow Treasurer, who is in the chamber at the moment, stands on this issue. He spoke of his great concern, as I have of mine, for those in the bush, as he called them. I hate that term. I live in the country; I do not live in a bush. Other people may refer to them as living in bushes, but they do not; they live in the country. And they have to endure very difficult circumstances in terms of their roads. It is all very well to travel from those glossy shores into the country on little excursions in a nice four-wheel drive, and it may well have all of those luxurious features to it, but most people do not. Most people, as the member for O’Connor said, do not see those vehicles as being luxurious, and to draw a line in dollars that becomes the determination of luxury is quite wrong and the government needs to address that. The Assistant Treasurer is well aware of those circumstances that are out there from his previous life working for the New South Wales roads minister. He knows those circumstances. He should also be well aware of the cost of these vehicles to people. In fact, if they introduce this particular tax, as I said earlier, it will encourage people in the country, for taxation reasons, to move to V8 petrol engines, with all of the emissions and various problems that those engines will have, let alone the consumption of a fossil fuel.

In other places we have a debate going on about carbon and fossil fuels and how we are going to come to grips with climate change. We have these other debates going on as we speak, and here we have, by drawing a line in the sand on the number of dollars, circumstances where we are going to encourage higher fuel use—not lower fuel use, higher fuel use—and where we are going to encourage greater emissions. Not lower emissions, greater emissions. It will be cheaper for those people who do not have the luxury of public transport, paved roads, tollways or motorways, as the member for O’Connor and the member for Kennedy quite rightly said, to do this. It will be cheaper for those people who have to traverse those roads to provide the food for the nation, to provide the food that they are being encouraged to feed others in the world, to do this. They have to travel on roads that are less safe than the majority of roads, and to impose a tax on those people in those circumstances and call it a luxury tax for living there is a major insult to those individuals.

I urge the government—I am pleased the Prime Minister is here at the moment—to review this. Prime Minister, you must review this. This is not fair to those people who do not have a choice. If you are driving a Toorak tractor—or a Bondi one as maybe the shadow Treasurer does—you have a choice of conveyance. You have a choice of conveyance which is quite safe: a bus, a car or a taxi. But in the country, where roads are not as good for a whole range of reasons, people do not have that choice and it is not a luxury to have a four-wheel drive vehicle to keep their family safe. It is not a luxury to have a bullbar on the front of it to avoid a kangaroo or some straying animal coming through the windscreen at you. It should not be, as this legislation imposes, Prime Minister, viewed as a luxury, and I urge the government to review the threshold or exempt four-wheel drive vehicles that are registered in country areas from the legislation.