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Tuesday, 15 February 2000
Page: 11749

Senator ABETZ (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence) (3:08 PM) —The issue that Australian women are in fact interested in is: will their household or personal budget be in better shape as a result of tax reform? The unequivocal answer to that is absolutely yes. Senator Faulkner took the silly line in his contribution about taxing the necessities of life; that this was somehow outrageous. His government taxed toilet paper at 22 per cent. I know that is not a necessity of life for the Labor Party, but it is for the vast majority of Australians. How does he justify to the Australian people a 22 per cent tax on toilet paper? He can't and he won't, because he knows of the hypocrisy within the Labor Party in trying to say that you should not tax the necessities of life. If toilet paper is not a necessity of life for the Labor Party, let them tell us.

We know that under the Labor tax regime, they had a 12 per cent tax on orange juice but no tax on caviar and fur coats. That was their sense of social justice with their tax system. We have said to the Australian people that some things will go up, other prices will go down and overall you will be better off. Indeed, I refer honourable senators to an article in the Sun-Herald of Sunday, 13 February 2000 where we are told, quite unequivocally, that groceries will become cheaper: about $1 cheaper per week. If you go through the very extensive list at the Coles Broadway supermarket, a $185.63 grocery account at today's prices would come down to $184.70. In other words—savings. Those opposite might be interested to read that, within the groceries that were purchased, there was in fact a pack of 20 Carefree tampons.

The answer is unequivocal in this debate that the household and personal budget of women in this country will be in far better shape as a result of tax reform. When the Labor Party by stealth increased wholesale sales tax on such things as the household hygiene budget of toilet paper, shampoo, detergents, floor cleaning materials, et cetera, they ramped it up without any compensation to the workers or to the pensioners of this country. What are we doing with our tax reform? We have $12 billion worth of tax cuts for the benefit of the Australian workers, and those who are not fortunate enough to be in employment and are recipients of government support schemes will in fact receive a four per cent increase in government support on the very day that the new tax regime comes in. Unlike Labor, who used to ramp up the prices of these goods and then six months later would adjust the pension as a catch-up so that pensioners would have to pay the newly inflated and increased prices for six months, we are providing the compensation in their pockets before they actually hit the supermarkets. On 1 July, the Australian people are going to say to Senator Faulkner and his colleagues opposite, `You have tried to con us, you have tried to scare us.' I think to a certain extent the Labor Party have succeeded but on 1 July, when people realise the truth, they will say that this was the biggest beat-up ever.

I remember what the Labor Party did in Tasmania when we were promoting the one-third sale of Telstra. The Labor member for Lyons, Dick Adams, put around a scurrilous sheet three days before the election—

Senator ABETZ —And Senator Sherry brags there was a 10 per cent swing to Mr Adams. Why? Because he put out a scare sheet saying that if one-third of Telstra was sold, the telephone bills in Queenstown would go up by $1,280. The people of Queenstown now know that they were lied to and that that was wrong; STD prices have gone down. They now have online access centres and video conferencing health facilities; their facilities are now a lot better. The Labor Party is trying to run the same scare campaign in relation to the tax reform proposals that we have. When taken in full context, the family budget and the personal budget of women in this country will be a lot better off as a result of tax reform. (Time expired)