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Wednesday, 17 November 2010
Page: 2810

Mr EWEN JONES (5:33 PM) —The election we just went to was one fought on commitment. You had the coalition commitment to cut $50 billion from the budget to bring $50 billion of savings to this House. Commitments are easy; anyone can make them. The difference between Labor and us is on the commitment side. Commitments are easy to make; it is the keeping of the commitment that is the hard part. You can write commitments anywhere: ‘“There will be no carbon price under any government I lead”—there you go!’ Then it is gone. You do not have to keep it. It is the keeping of the commitment that sets you aside as a truly great government.

The Prime Minister accuses us of three-word slogans. Well, in relation to this bill I would like to try this one on for size when it comes to taxation: ‘Fairer, lower, simpler’. There is a three-word slogan you can hang your hat on. Then there is responsibility to the electorate. During the campaign we spoke to our constituents. We spoke to the PAYE people who are struggling with real cost-of-living pressures—not just the housing mortgage, not just the rising electricity prices, but the cost of fruit and vegetables, milk, bread, butter, school fees. The whole thing is just so hard for the people of Australia at the moment.

Small business is crumbling under the weight of bureaucracy being loaded on by this government. Every small business man to whom I spoke said that the problem was that they were prepared to grow their businesses but they could not afford the compliance costs under this government’s stack of legislation to make it harder for them to grow their business and therefore grow prosperity.

As I said in my maiden speech, it is not about the amount of tax being paid, which is about right; it is about the way it is collected and the way it is displayed. We all pay tax, and as far as the general public are concerned it just disappears—it comes in and they do not have any ownership over where it goes. Our amendment will give the general public, the PAYE taxpayer, ownership of where their tax dollar is going. Imagine the joy, Deputy Speaker, when you open your statement and it says that your tax dollar has helped improve roads, has provided life-saving operations, has helped with foreign aid and defence.

The government’s problem may be that they simply do not know where the money has gone—or could it be that they do know and they do not want the statement to come out saying: your money has gone on pink batts; your money has gone on the foreign minister’s airfares; your money has gone to state government blackholes. Maybe it would say, ‘The $20,000 tax that you paid has gone into four square metres of a BER project’—a project that, if that bloke had paid the $20,000 to a carpenter or builder, would have come in at about $1,500 per square metre.

Or interest on government debt. We have just taken your whole $20,000 and paid it off net government debt. They do not pay it off government debt. Who am I kidding? Or cost blow-outs or illegal immigrant detention centres in your suburb. The people of Australia deserve to know and should have access to this information. Imagine the joy of knowing that your tax dollars have helped put in a PET scanner in Townsville and the amount of money that has saved. A PET scanner in Townsville under our program would have cost $2.5 million; under the government’s program it would cost over nine. Under the government’s program, it would take another two years to put in; under our program, it would take less than six months. The way the invoice would come out, there would be ownership there and it is simple, it is fair, it is clear and it is lower. It should be done.