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Thursday, 4 December 1986
Page: 3333


Senator CHANEY (Leader of the Opposition)(10.26) —The stance of the Opposition is that because the economic situation is very difficult and the Government's expenditure and the deficit are too high it will not agree to changes to Bills that increase expenditure or reduce the Government's revenue raising and thereby increase the deficit. We now face a different sort of situation. Senator Vigor is asking that we should increase taxes instead. That is not a proposition which the Opposition finds attractive in 1986. It is the consistent view of the Opposition that taxes in this country are too high-the highest proportion of gross domestic product ever is being taken in taxes-and it would be inconsistent with our general stance on the need for tax reduction for us to support an ad hoc increase in excise being put forward in this way. I do not wish to take the time of the Committee to discuss the issues or the way in which excise should be used with respect to such things as tobacco and alcohol to discourage consumption for reasons of health. Those matters have been discussed at some length in a parliamentary report which I think would be well-known to Senator Vigor. I think it is called `Drug problems in Australia, an intoxicated society?'. Recommendations were put forward about the grading of excises which were meant to modify people's behaviour on the consumption of substances which could be deleterious to their health. I do not believe that we can agree to their sort of ad hoc requests which have been put forward by the Australian Democrats and therefore the Opposition will not support them.