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Wednesday, 7 September 1983
Page: 473


Mrs CHILD —My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. What effect will the Opposition's threatened rejection of Government taxation proposals in the Senate have on the Government's Budget strategy and the prospects for national economic recovery?


Mr HAWKE —The Government's Budget strategy has been carefully calculated to provide a very substantial stimulus to economic recovery while at the same time avoiding excessive pressures in the financial markets. With those twin objectives in mind and after careful and wide consultation, the Budget deficit was deliberately kept to a level less than $8.5 billion. It is now a matter of general recognition that those twin objectives and the level of the deficit designed to achieve them have received widespread support and commendation from the business and financial communities of Australia.

In that context the Budget strategy and the figuring involved in it, as would be appreciated, depends critically on a number of taxation proposals. Some of those proposals-I refer particularly to the recoupment legislation and the arrangements in regard to lump sum superannuation-will obviously have greater impacts in the years beyond 1983-84 and are, of course, essential to the strategy of being able in those outer years to rein in the Budget deficit and thus reduce the pressure of that deficit on financial markets, so making way for the claims of the private sector on the financial markets in the process of recovery. Once that essential strategy, which has been widely endorsed and accepted by the business and financial communities of Australia, is understood, it can be seen that the Opposition, by threatening to oppose those measures, is in fact opposing the possibility of recovery which is involved therein. It is doing that by threatening to oppose those measures just as it is threatening to oppose the regulations which are necessary to make the prescribed payments system or withholding tax system of the shadow Treasurer, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, work. The Opposition, in other words, is opposing measures which are essential to hold the Budget deficit to less than $8.5 billion and which are essential to the economic recovery this year and in the years ahead.

The extreme hypocrisy of the Opposition is demonstrated in these circumstances by its concomitant call for a reduced deficit alongside its opportunistic rejection of every measure which is designed to increase taxation or reduce expenditure without at any point, I remind honourable members, offering any alternatives of comparable dimensions. The people of Australia are entitled to ask: What are the Opposition's real alternatives? Would it in fact allow a higher deficit or would it raise taxation on ordinary, honest Australian wage earners? What government expenditures would it cut?

By this stage of 1983 the position of the Opposition has been made quite clear. At the beginning of the year it was exposed before the Australian electorate as being incapable of speaking honestly in the fiscal and budgetary area. Now, six months later, it is equally incapable of being honest in this area. It attacks this Treasurer, it attacks this Budget, it attacks the level of the deficit, it attacks the level of--


Mr Tuckey —Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. In looking at the things that a question shall not be, I draw your attention to standing order 144.


Mr SPEAKER —Order! We are not dealing with a question; we are dealing with an answer. There is no point of order.


Mr HAWKE —It is a measure of the incompetence of honourable members opposite that they cannot distinguish between a question and an answer. As I said, the incompetence and the dishonesty at the beginning of the year are now being compounded by the hypocrisy and the dishonesty at this stage of the year.


Mr Tuckey —Mr Speaker, I would like to complete my point of order. I drew your attention to standing order 144, which says that questions will be out of order if they relate to debates in the current session. This matter was debated this morning.


Mr SPEAKER —There is no point of order.


Mr HAWKE —As I said, the incompetence and dishonesty of the earlier part of the year are now being compounded by this very simple situation. The strategy of this Government, calculated to ensure economic recovery, has been endorsed by the business and financial community. A deficit of under $8.5 billion is critical to that strategy. This Opposition is opposing measures calculated on the expenditure and revenue sides to achieve that result. In the process, it is crowing on and on, saying: 'We would have a $7 billion deficit'. The simple arithmetic of these matters is as follows: To bring the deficit down from $8.5 billion to something like $7 billion one would have to increase taxation or cut expenditure programs. It is about time the Opposition came clean in this matter and stopped its opposition to legitimate and endorsed expenditure programs of this Government-legitimate programs calculated to restore equity in the taxation system of this country. It is about time the Opposition said to the people of this country: 'These are the increased taxes that we as an Opposition would favour, these are the programs that we would cut out and this is how we would reduce the deficit to $7 billion'.