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Thursday, 21 June 2001
Page: 24880

Senator McGAURAN (2:57 PM) —My question is to the Assistant Treasurer, Senator Kemp. Will the minister inform the Senate of the benefits to the Australian community from the government's practice of clearly and consistently outlining its economic policies? Is the minister aware of any recent comments concerning the formulation of policies in relation to taxation and superannuation?

Senator KEMP (Assistant Treasurer) —Thank you to my good friend Senator McGauran for that extremely important question. Senator McGauran is certainly a man who is constantly on the ball in this chamber. This is a very important question. Clearly and consistently outlining policies is very important to the government.

Government senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT —Order! Senators in the vicinity of Senator Kemp should give him an opportunity to answer and to be heard.

Senator KEMP —One thing we can certainly say about the Howard government is that we have been very clear on our policies when we have gone to an election, and we have been very clear in the implementation of those policies. There was a question about alternative policies. What we have seen from the Labor Party is absolute policy confusion.

Senator KEMP —Their own candidates—even some of their shadow ministers, Senator Conroy—do not seem to know what is going on. I can say that there is one Labor shadow minister who is prepared—

Honourable senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT —Senators shouting in the chamber are disorderly, and I told you that earlier today. You should not need to be reminded—on both sides.

Senator KEMP —There is at least one Labor shadow minister who is prepared to speak the truth. I refer to Senator Stephen `truth in policy' Conroy. He may be in a small faction of the Labor Party but he has been joined by one other person. I refer to the Labor endorsed candidate for Leichhardt, Mr Matt `truth in policy' Tresize, who called up a radio station to finally let them know what was going on with roll-back. As you can recall, I have stood up on numerous occasions in this chamber and asked the Labor Party to join me in a debate on roll-back, and no-one has ever appeared. Mr Matt Tresize, the Labor Party candidate, said about roll-back:

One of the things I found out is that we still don't have as much detail as I would like

... ... ...

You know, if the Labor Party is successful in forming government after the election, we'll then be able to start a consultative process with the community that will decide exactly what we are going to do.

This is another member of the `truth in policy' faction. We have had to wait in this chamber for at least 12 months until Mr Matt Tresize was prepared to get up and tell us what the Labor Party policy is. But there have been other very important contributions to truth in policy. Yesterday, Senator Sherry stood up in this chamber and tried to attack the Labor Party over the superannuation surcharge, which he described as `infamous', although keeping the Labor Party surcharge is Labor Party policy. Naturally, I became curious as to what the Labor Party policy on superannuation is. I found out that the shadow assistant treasurer, Mr Kelvin Thomson, had delivered an address to the National Press Club. As my time is running out, Senator Julian McGauran, I would welcome a supplementary question asking me about the matters that were raised in this important speech.

Senator McGAURAN —Minister, you did not have to ask; I was attentive to what you were going to say. I would seek for you to finish your answer by way of a supplementary question. Would the minister outline further his concerns regarding taxation and superannuation policies?

Senator KEMP (Assistant Treasurer) —I did search through Mr Kelvin Thomson's speech to find out what the Labor Party policy is on superannuation. This is what the shadow assistant treasurer said:

This is a very important area and the Labor Party has been working five years on this policy with the major research coming from Senator Sherry.

This is what the Labor Party superannuation policy is:

Superannuation is a very complex area and, in my view, to pull off anything in the way of a detailed change from opposition without the assistance of Treasury and the Tax Office really is a triple somersault with pike.

No policies until after the next election—five years of research. All Senator Sherry's bright work over the years has come to nothing. Like roll-back and everything else, we have to wait until after the election. No wonder the Treasurer called the ALP the Australian lazy party.

Senator Hill —Madam President, I ask that further questions be placed on the Notice Paper.