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Wednesday, 21 September 1983
Page: 1098


Mr GROOM(4.48) —I welcome this opportunity to participate in this debate on the 1983-84 Budget. The people of Australia want leaders whom they can trust. They want their leaders to have integrity and they want their leaders to be honest people who keep their promises. People who have watched the performance of the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) and a number of his Ministers-not all of his Ministers but a number of them-must be very disappointed at what they have seen and heard since this Government was elected. I want to remind the House of a question which was put by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Peacock) to the Prime Minister. It was the last question of the previous parliamentary session. He asked:

Does the Prime Minister recall his promise to provide immediate reductions in income tax, his promise to retain the tax rebate for home loan payments, his promise to introduce a first home ownership assistance scheme as 'an option to the existing deposit assistance scheme which will be retained', his promise not to increase tax on lump sum superannuation, his promise not to take money out of the weekly pay packet, his promise not to take money out of the pensioner's cheque, his promise not to abandon the Alice Springs-Darwin railway, his promise to extend desperately needed public capital works and services, his promise to continue the Government's major airport development program-

That includes the upgrading of airport facilities in Brisbane. I might mention that the upgrading of Hobart, Launceston and Wynyard airports were all additional promises that have not been kept. The Leader of the Opposition continued:

his promise to provide 'a major new concession to the small businesses of this nation', his promise to reduce the price of petrol by 3c per litre-

a particular concern of the honourable member for Franklin (Mr Goodluck) who has raised this matter so many times in this House-

his promise to achieve fixed term four-year parliaments and his promise to retain the health insurance rebate until the introduction of Medicare?

The Leader of the Opposition said:

Will the Prime Minister tell the House from whom he received a mandate to break these promises?

This is a sorry story that we have had. All of these promises were made. The Prime Minister went all around the country willy-nilly telling the people he would do this and he would do that. What has happened? So many promises have been broken-a slap in the face to the people of Australia. I want to refer particularly to the policy speech of the Prime Minister when he launched the Federal election campaign for the Australian Labor Party at the Sydney Opera House on 16 February 1983.


Mr Goodluck —An appropriate place.


Mr GROOM —As the honourable member said, an appropriate place for the Prime Minister to perform and to act out this dishonest story. I want to refer particularly to his promise relating to taxation. This was a specific promise made to the people of Australia by the now Prime Minister on 16 February 1983. I quote from page 12 of the official document of the Australian Labor Party:

Our Government's total income tax package is being released concurrently with this speech. Its key elements include immediate reductions-

I repeat the words, 'immediate reductions'-

in income tax for almost six million Australian taxpayers, with the greatest tax cuts going to those on the lowest incomes who have suffered most-

the then Leader of the Opposition said-

under Mr Fraser's policies. A taxpayer without dependants earning $225 a week, for example, will get a tax cut of $4.76 a week.

The now Prime Minister went on to say:

The major points of Labor's tax reform will be: a new six step tax scale to restore the progressive nature of the tax system-

What has happened to that? The second point was:

-a lift in the tax threshold to $5,000 which will free tens of thousands of low income earners from all tax-

we know what has happened to that-

-a lift in the tax threshold for pensioners of $465 to $5,893;

The Labor Government has caused a great deal of damage to pensioners in a number of respects, including the assets test, which I will get to in a moment. The then Leader of the Opposition also promised increases in the spouse rebate and sole parent rebate which would result in additional tax cuts of $2 a week to families. All of these promises were made and almost all of them have not been honoured. He also promised:

Increases in zone allowances by 25 per cent for taxpayers in remote areas.

What has happened to that? The Prime Minister went down to the west coast of Tasmania-one of the zones involved-kissed a few ladies and shook hands with one or two people. The press completely and totally misrepresented that visit by the Prime Minister. That visit by the Prime Minister to the west coast of Tasmania was a total disaster. Everyone on the west coast knows that. If any Prime Minister worth his salt who was respected by the people went down there he would be swarmed by thousands of people wanting to come up and shake his hand. A lot of the local people-


Mr Goodluck —He said I was ashamed to be a Tasmanian.


Mr Cunningham —Are you ashamed to be a Tasmanian because of it?


Mr GROOM —Who is the honourable member saying that to? That comment has been mentioned a number of times in respect of the honourable member for Franklin. In the heat of the moment, when there was a great deal of conning going on within Tasmania the honourable member for Franklin made that comment. But I defy anyone to say that the honourable member for Franklin is not a decent Tasmanian through and through. No one has fought harder for Tasmania and for the people of Tasmania than has the honourable member for Franklin. He was born in Tasmania, he went to school in Tasmania, he worked hard in Tasmania to earn a living and he has been elected by the people of Tasmania to come to this place. He is a good, genuine, decent, fair dinkum Tasmanian. I tell honourable members opposite now that if Bob Hawke keeps repeating that statement in Tasmania he will do himself a lot of damage.


Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mrs Child) —Would the honourable member please refer to the Prime Minister as the Prime Minister?


Mr GROOM —I am sorry, Madam Deputy Speaker. If the Prime Minister keeps repeating that statement in Tasmania he will finish up like Dorian Gray. He will regret that very much. But that is a sideline. I will get back to what I was attempting to say. I was referring to the speech by the now Prime Minister and to all of the broken promises that have been made. The Prime Minister stated that all of these tax cuts would be forthcoming and ordinary decent Australians would receive these terrific tax cuts.


Mr Hodgman —Immediately?


Mr GROOM —Immediately and nothing has happened. The Prime Minister had the audacity to produce at the back of his policy speech the new tax scales that would apply immediately. The word immediately was used. For taxpayers without dependents, according to the tax scale, there would be a saving of $2.41 for a person earning $100 a week. For a person earning $125 a week there would be a saving of $2.91-that is, a person without dependents. With a dependent spouse and children the Prime Minister said that, for example, for a person on a weekly income of $175 there would be a saving of $5.91. These figures are all set out in these tables. What has happened to that promise? Madam Deputy Speaker, I seek leave to have these tables incorporated in Hansard.


Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! I believe that the Speaker has made a ruling that tables are not to be incorporated in Hansard.


Mr GROOM —That is not so, not if they are brief. They are part of the policy speech.


Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER —The documents can be incorporated if they are tables. Would the Minister for Aviation (Mr Beazley) have a look at them please?


Mr Beazley —They are tables.

Leave granted.

The tables read as follows-

TAX CUTS FROM LABOR'S NEW TAX SCALES

(1) Taxpayer without dependents

Tax (1983-84)

Tax change

Govern- Weekly

ment's Labor's income

Tax Tax Per week Per cent

$

$ $ $ $ 100 3.49 1.08 -2.41 -69.1 125 10.99 8.08 -2.91 -26.5 150 18.49 15.08 -3.41 -18.4 175 25.99 22.08 -3.91 -15.0 200 33.49 29.08 -4.41 -13.2 225 40.99 36.23 -4.76 -11.6 250 48.49 44.23 -4.26 -8.8 275 55.99 52.23 -3.76 -6.7 300 63.49 60.23 -3.26 -5.1 350 78.49 76.23 -2.26 -2.9 400 97.49 95.06 -2.43 -2.5 450 120.49 118.06 -2.43 -2.0 500 143.49 141.06 -2.43 -1.7 600 189.49 187.06 - 2.43 -1.3 700 237.14 236.83 -0.31 -0.1 800 297.14 296.83 -0.31 -0.1 900 357. 14 356.83 -0.31 -0.1 1000 417.14 416.83 -0.31 -0.1 1200 537.14 539.13 +1.99 +0 .4

(2) Taxpayer with dependent spouse and children

100 . . . . . . . . 125 . . . . . . . . 150 . . . . . . . . 175 6.18 0.27 -5 .91 -96.6 200 13.68 7.27 -6.41 -46.9 225 21.18 14.42 -6.76 -31.9 250 28.68 22 .42 -6.26 -21.8 275 36.18 30.42 -5.76 -15.9 300 43.68 38.42 -5.26 -12.0 350 58.68 54.42 -4.26 -7.3 400 77.68 73.25 -4.43 -5.7 450 100.68 96.25 -4.43 -4.4 500 123.68 119.25 -4.43 -3.6 600 169.68 165.25 -4.43 -2.8 700 217.33 215.02 - 2.31 -1.1 800 277.33 275.02 -2.31 -0.8 900 337.33 335.02 -2.31 -0.7 1000 397. 33 395.02 -2.31 -0.6 1200 517.33 517.33 - -


Mr GROOM —He is a good Minister. Thank you very much. I just make the point that those are the promises that were made. The public of Australia should look at those promises and note that the Prime Minister said that they would be introduced immediately. Nothing has happened. in fact, we have had an increase in taxation in so many respects. One of the most disastrous taxes ever introduced is the prescribed payments system of taxation introduced by the Treasurer, Mr Keating.


Mr Cunningham —It is your tax.


Mr GROOM —It is your tax and you have to live with it. It is the most socialist tax that we have ever had introduced in this country. What an imposition on the small business people and the small business women-that is the sexist phrase used these days-around Australia. Again I seek leave, Madam Deputy Speaker, to have all these documents incorporated in Hansard. They are documents I particularly want to see incorporated because they will show to the people the great burden that this Government has placed upon small business people all around Australia who have to fill out all these forms so many times each year. The Deputy Commissioner of Taxation came along to a meeting in one of the Senate Committee rooms and said that one building firm in Australia would have to fill out enough forms to fill, I think, two committee rooms in one year. This is what is destroying business. So I make a particular plea to you, Madam Deputy Speaker , in your wisdom to allow these documents to be incorporated in full in Hansard to make the particular debating point I seek to make.


Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER —I suggest to the honourable member for Braddon that the Speaker was fairly clear in his ruling-I am not able to make a ruling, I must carry his rulings out-that the tables have to be tables in the visual sense.


Mr GROOM —I would not wish to oppose Mr Speaker's ruling. He has already ruled against me once today, although I felt that there was an argument in my points. With all due respect to Mr Speaker, I would accept his ruling. However, Madam Deputy Speaker, I ask whether I might have these documents tabled and then whether you could confer with the Speaker and jointly decide whether they should be incorporated. I make a special plea that they should be incorporated.


Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER —Is the honourable member seeking leave to have the documents tabled?


Mr GROOM —No, incorporated in Hansard.


Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER —No, Mr Speaker would not have them incorporated in Hansard . The honourable member is seeking leave now to have them tabled and to confer with Mr Speaker as to whether they can be incorporated?


Mr GROOM —If that is the appropriate approach to be adopted, Madam Deputy Speaker, I accept that guidance from you.


Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER —Is leave granted?


Mr Beazley —Leave is granted to table the documents.


Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER —Leave is granted for the documents to be tabled.


Mr GROOM —What about incorporation in Hansard, Madam Deputy Speaker?


Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER —As to their being incorporated in Hansard, it would be for me to discuss it with Mr Speaker and for Mr Speaker to give his ruling.


Mr GROOM —Madam Deputy Speaker, perhaps you would need also to have the Minister 's leave noted first, before you discuss it.


Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER —The Minister has given leave for the papers to be tabled. It is not for the Minister to give leave for me to discuss it with Mr Speaker.


Mr GROOM —I accept that ruling, Madam Deputy Speaker. If I could go on further into the policy speech made by Mr Hawke, on petrol prices he made this promise--


Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! Could I once again suggest that the honourable member refer to the Prime Minister as the Prime Minister?


Mr GROOM —He was then not the Prime Minister. He is now the Prime Minister, Mr Hawke. I quote from page 14, where he said:

As part of Labor's anti-inflation package and in recognition of the burden of extra taxation levied by the Government on people afflicted by the wage freeze, Labor will reduce the price of petrol by cancelling the January 1 oil price increase of $3.23 per barrel. This will have the effect of reducing the price of petrol by the order of 3c a litre. It will also reduce the Consumer Price Index by half of one point.

What has happened to that? What has happened to petrol prices around Australia? I could go on and on through all these promises. I recall very well the Prime Minister saying in this House, when we were on the government benches and he was then Leader of the Opposition, 'Liar, liar, liar'. I have never called anyone a liar in this chamber and I do not intend to call anyone a liar now, but one could doubt the Prime Minister's honesty when he makes all these promises and none of them is kept. On the housing issue he goes all around Australia saying: 'You will get tax deductibility on interest for your housing loan repayments'. All around Australia he looked people straight in the eye, saying: 'You need not worry. I am an honest man. I am full of integrity'. What has happened to this man's integrity and honesty? The fact is he is a man whose word is worth nothing . He keeps breaking his promises to the Australian people. That is a matter of great regret.

We have a sorry story in Tasmania. The Prime Minister came to the west coast and tried to con the local people. As I say, it was a disastrous visit to the west coast. Normally, thousands and thousands of west coast people would have gone out with warm hearts and open arms to embrace a visiting Prime Minister. That would have happened if Mr Fraser had visited the west coast, but when the present Prime Minister went there, what happened? He arrived at Strahan, and about 20 or 30 greenies were there to give him a few huon pine objects. Then he went to Queenstown. It has not been commonly noted, but there was a coffin in the park opposite the municipal chambers, which you would know, Mr Deputy Speaker. The coffin was not for the Prime Minister; it was for the death of States rights. What was not generally noted was that the women who attended that function-only half of those invited attended-almost all wore black and many of the men had black on their lapels to indicate the death of States rights.

The Prime Minister has not done the right thing by Tasmania. He has failed. We sought a meeting for weeks and weeks, and then he telephoned, at some convenient time to him, and said: 'Yes, we will meet you in the Cabinet room'. I was amazed that we went into the Cabinet room. I had thought that we would have gone into the Prime Minister's office. The honourable member for Denison (Mr Hodgman) did not wish to attend that meeting, and I respect his view on that subject. However , other honourable members decided that we should go along and put the Tasmanian point of view. That view was put strongly. The honourable member for Bass (Mr Newman) put a very strong point of view to the Prime Minister. The honourable members present-the member for Bass, the member for Franklin (Mr Goodluck) and the member for Wilmot (Mr Burr)-well remembered that the Prime Minister made a promise to us that he would get back to us. That was weeks and weeks ago. What has happened to that response? There has been no response at all; nothing. This man's integrity is in serious question already, he having been in office for such a short space of time. The people of Tasmania are not fools. The people of Australia are not fools.

As regards unemployment, I do not know what has happened to the Caucus but its members must be pretty weak because the Prime Minister has walked all over them on a whole range of issues. He has said in this House: 'I know what is going to happen. I believe that this is what will happen.' What has happened to he old Labor Party? Where are the people with the guts and courage to stand up? Where are they? They have gone to water. Where are the people who are concerned about the workers of this country? The people who are worried about the workers are on the Opposition side of the House, not on the Government side. Honourable members on the Government benches are all academics, intellectuals and left wingers. That is all that is left. Where are they now?


Mr Cunningham —I raise a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. We are dealing with Appropriation Bill (No. 1), and I suggest that the honourable member is attacking other members of the Party outside--


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon. Les Johnson) —Order! There is no point of order.


Mr GROOM —I can understand the honourable member's sensitivity on that point, but that is the fact, and it is the same in Tasmania with the great white hope, Mr Wriedt, who did nothing at all to protect the interests of Tasmania when he had an excellent opportunity to put in a strong argument for Tasmania. He has let Tasmania down. He has betrayed the people of Tasmania and hoisted the white flag on behalf of the Australian Labor Party within Tasmania. I believe that unemployment is the great social issue of the day. I am amazed how weak Government members are on this issue. I should like to refer to Budget Paper No. 1. Honourable members should not worry about the Budget Speech; that is political. Let them look at the Budget Papers. Honourable members on the Government benches might laugh about unemployment.


Mr Gear —We don't laugh; that is why we are sitting on the Government side of the House.


Mr GROOM —The honourable member should read Budget Paper No. 1 in the Budget of 1983-84, circulated by the Hon P. J. Keating, M.P., Treasurer of the Commonwealth of Australia, and the Hon. John Dawkins, the little thief from the west. I refer to page 65 of that document.


Mr Goodluck —You gave him a serve.


Mr GROOM —I was thinking of Dickens; there is a little Johnny Dawkins in Dickens . The paper states:

a moderate growth in employment during the course of the year and an edging up in unemployment.

On financial markets, it states:

a marked increase in public sector borrowing, which is obvious from the Budget deficit, and continued pressure on interest rates.

The Prime Minister will eat his words. He said that interest rates were on the way down and he will learn from history that he should not have made that statement.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member's time has expired. I have taken the opportunity of looking at the two papers the honourable member for Braddon sought to have incorporated in Hansard. They have been tabled. I rule that they do not comply with the guidelines and will not be incorporated.


Mr Groom —I raise a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. As to your ruling, could you specify why those documents do not comply with the guidelines? Is it the length of the documents?


Mr Hodgman —That is the fault of the Government.


Mr Groom —That is the point I am making.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —In the current session Mr Speaker has spelt out the guidelines. The honourable member can refer to Hansard and obtain his guidance from that reference.


Mr Groom —I seek a ruling on it, Mr Deputy Speaker.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! I simply want to say that the general provision is that a member can incorporate in Hansard only documents which cannot be read into Hansard. These documents are readily available to every member of parliament and, indeed, to every member in the community. There is no merit in having them incorporated in Hansard. I so rule.


Mr Groom —I accept your ruling but I regret it.