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Wednesday, 26 November 1986
Page: 2782

Senator CHANEY (Leader of the Opposition) —Mr Acting Deputy President, I claim to have been misrepresented and seek leave to make a personal explanation.

Leave granted.

Senator CHANEY —During Question Time, Senator Maguire asked a question of Senator Walsh in which he said that in a debate last week in the Senate on an urgency motion on the fringe benefits tax I had said that those most penalised by the fringe benefits tax are low income earners. I have now been able to check my recollection of that debate against the Hansard. My recollection is correct and Senator Maguire is incorrect. The debate brought on last week did refer to low income earners and the unfair impact on relatively low income earners, such as bank officers, of the fringe benefits tax but there is nothing in either the motion which was moved by the Opposition or in the speech which I made in support of that motion which would suggest that I was saying that they were most penalised. In my speech I pointed out categories of people who are on relatively low incomes and who are affected by the fringe benefits tax. I had the temerity to quote Senator Richardson, who drew attention to the fact that bank officers, most of whom are on less than average weekly earnings, are severely affected by it.

The only other thing that could have led to any confusion in the mind of Senator Maguire is that I referred to Mount Isa Mines Ltd as having given an estimate that 80 per cent of the tax that it pays for fringe benefits is for benefits which are applicable to the blue collar work force of that company. So I did draw attention to that claim by Mount Isa Mines Ltd which received wide publicity some months ago. The simple point that was being made by the Opposition in the debate is that the tax has a very wide impact and many people who are on low incomes are being affected by its provisions.