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Wednesday, 24 June 1998
Page: 3960

Senator CHAPMAN (3:28 PM) —Nothing exemplifies more the fact that Jacinta Collins—

Senator Jacinta Collins —Senator, please!

Senator CHAPMAN —Senator Jacinta Collins is out of touch completely on this issue than her response to Senator Watson that he knows nothing about tax. No-one in this Senate would know more about tax issues than Senator Watson. That is the sort of nonsense we get from the Labor opposition.

The opposition have also clearly confirmed again today in this debate that they are wreckers and not builders, that they are yet again embarking on a dishonest scare campaign against the urgent need for tax reform, and that is what every Australian needs to know. Australians know only too well the ramshackle nature of the tax system that we currently have in place and the urgent need for tax reform and that it is the Labor Party that is going to try to wreck this attempt at tax reform.

It is no wonder they want to do that. In stark contrast to Senator Watson's deep knowledge of taxation issues, the only thing the Labor Party know about tax is the way in which they can raise more tax. That is the only interest of the Labor Party. It was their only interest when they were in government. They were a tax and spend government. They spent the whole 13 years in office seeking ways to raise more and more tax to feed their rapacious levels of government spending.

Senator Watson —Who were the sufferers?

Senator CHAPMAN —The sufferers were the average Australians. The average wage earners in this country were the sufferers under Labor. Not only did Labor increase a range of taxes but they also devised means of bringing forward tax revenue. Every year they sought to devise ways of bringing forward tax revenue that otherwise may have been collected further down the track, because they had this continual rapacious need to feed their spending habit.

The most dishonest example of their increase in taxes was after the 1993 election. Having campaigned, as I said, in a false way against the coalition's proposals then for tax reform, they immediately, in that budget after the 1993 election, substantially increased wholesale sales tax. But that was not the only tax they increased during their term in office. They increased petrol excise to an enormous rate. When the last Liberal-National government left office, almost all of the money raised from fuel taxes was spent on roads. By the time Labor left office, a very small percentage was spent on roads. Something like 10 or 15 per cent of the fuel excise was spent on roads when Labor left office compared with nearly all of it when they came to office.

They increased the Medicare levy. They increased company tax. They introduced and increased fringe benefits taxes. And they increased the departure tax. In contrast to that, they failed completely to deliver their promised tax cuts—the l-a-w tax cuts. Remember those? They were promised by then Prime Minister Keating in the 1993 election—they were actually written into legislation. They came back after the 1993 election and repealed that legislation and reneged on those tax cuts. They had 13 years in office to provide a fairer tax system. All they ever did was increase revenue and spending.

What have we heard today from the opposition? We have heard reference to trusts. The Labor Party do not care about trusts. Trusts have been around for many years. They were certainly around during their 13 years in office and they did absolutely nothing about the issue of trusts. They only raise trusts now because of their vitriolic personal attack on Senator Parer. They are using trusts as a battering ram for their personal attack on Senator Parer and for nothing else. This government, while recognising that trusts do have a legitimate role as a business structure, has nevertheless acted to make illegal the inappropriate use of trusts. It is this government that has legislated to remove the capacity to trade in trust losses. It is this government that is introducing legislation to remove the capacity for dividend streaming. It is this government that has recognised that, where there are difficulties in regard to trusts, legislation is needed and it has introduced that.

What are the Labor Party going to do with trusts? They are going to legislate on trusts to introduce de facto death duties. Mr Beazley has announced that the next Labor government in office will legislate so that every time control of a trust changes it will be regarded as a disposal of assets and hence a capital gains tax will apply.

Senator Cook —No, no, no.

Senator CHAPMAN —`No, no, no,' says Senator Cook. That is exactly what Mr Beazley has said. (Time expired) .

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Reynolds) —The time allocated for this debate has expired.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Before calling the clerk for petitions, I must say that I had great difficulty hearing Senator Chapman because of quite a lot of conversation from the advisers' boxes.

Senator Chapman —You missed great pearls of wisdom.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT —That is why I was disappointed, Senator Chapman. I recognise that it is necessary for advice to be given, but please be aware of how the noise travels.