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Wednesday, 21 June 2000
Page: 15328

Senator GIBSON (2:08 PM) —My question without notice is to the Assistant Treasurer, Senator Kemp. Minister, with the introduction of the new tax system, will you outline the benefits of the $12 billion of personal income tax cuts it will deliver to Australian families? Is the minister aware of any alternative policies and the implications of such proposals for the government's income tax cuts?

Senator Herron —That was a particularly good question.

Senator KEMP (Assistant Treasurer) —Can I echo the comments of my colleagues that that was a particularly good question, Senator Gibson. But it is not surprising to get a particularly good question from Senator Gibson. In just 10 days the coalition government will deliver the largest personal income tax cuts in Australian history.

Senator Forshaw —Coalition? Where's the National Party? They're not here.

Opposition senators interjecting

Senator KEMP —Most of the public would have thought that this is good news but when one makes this comment the Labor Party, as you can hear, shout out. They are obviously embarrassed by it.

The PRESIDENT —Order! The noise on my left is so loud that I am having difficulty hearing the minister.

Senator KEMP —The $12 million in tax cuts will flow through to individuals and families. In fact, some 80 per cent of salary earners will face a top marginal rate of around 30 per cent. This is in stark contrast to the Labor Party's income tax scale which would have seen workers on average weekly earnings pay tax at the top marginal rate in just a few years. Of course, that would have provided a significant disincentive to save.

Senator Cook has gone on record in the past—I do not often quote Senator Cook in this chamber, and that is probably well known—with a couple of very famous quotes. I will not mention the most famous one, Senator Cook, out of deference to you. One of his most famous quotes is this: `I confirm that the Labor Party is a high tax party.' Senator Cook did say that, and Senator Cook is dead right. He is absolutely dead right on that one. The Labor Party is a high tax party. And this throws into context why the Labor Party refuses, when asked the question—I think Mr Beazley has been asked this question some 30 times; I have posed this question in this chamber on numerous occasions—whether the Labor Party guarantees the income tax cuts that we will be delivering to Australian taxpayers on 1 July—

Senator Conroy —Where's Benalla? That's the only question you have to ask.

Senator Forshaw —Who's been out rounding up the Nationals?

Opposition senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT —Order! There is far too much shouting in the chamber. It makes it difficult for everybody to hear. I think all senators are aware of the contents of standing order 203. If not, I invite you to re-read it.

Senator KEMP —As I was saying, the tax cuts will deliver to many Australian families benefits in the order of $40 to $50 a week. These are very big benefits. They will be welcomed by Australian families. I think the question that Australian families will be posing, probably in the light of Senator Cook's comment about the Labor Party being a high tax party, is whether the Labor Party will ensure that it is part of its own policy as it goes to the next election that it guarantees those very large tax cuts to individuals and to families. I believe it is very bad news that the Labor Party is not committing itself to the tax cuts. In light of the many questions people are asking on tax these days, I think it is important that we get some clarification from the Labor Party on this very important aspect. The government is very proud of these tax cuts. The government makes no apology for cutting taxes. There is a clear difference between this government and the Labor Party. We are a low tax government and, as Senator Cook says, the Labor Party is a high tax party.