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Wednesday, 2 November 1983
Page: 2207


Mr HUMPHREYS(3.28) —As we heard, the honourable member for Bruce (Mr Aldred) had such a small contribution to make to the discussion that he only spoke for five minutes about the Liberal Party's policies for small business. We have just been subjected to the most hypocritical speeches I have ever heard in my life from the honourable member for Higgins (Mr Shipton) and the honourable member for Bruce. As I put forward my argument, I will prove to all honourable members how hypocritical the Liberal Party really is. We know how great the Liberal Party's policy is. We saw what happened to the Liberals in Queensland the other day. They were annihilated because of the Liberal Party's great policies for small business people in Queensland.

Madam Deputy Speaker, I was a small businessman for 15 years before entering this Parliament, and for five years after that. I happened to survive for all those years; I had to struggle under the policies of the Liberal Government. I can assure you that the three years we had under the previous Labor Government, whilst I was in business, were the best years for small business ever experienced in the history of this country. Let us have a look at the Fraser Government's record as it was when our Government took office.


Mr Shipton —We want you to tell us what you are doing.


Mr HUMPHREYS —Let us just have a look at the previous Government's record. The honourable member has been saying how good we are. Let us have a look at how bad the previous Government was. When the Labor Government took control of the Treasury bench in this country, it took over the highest deficit in the history of this nation.-$9.6 billion. For those who do not understand, I will repeat it: It was $9,600,000,000. The members of the previous Government were great managers, great business people! They had great policies for this country! Let us have a look at how many people were unemployed under the previous Government. There were 600,000 unemployed men and women in Australia who were looking for work, under the previous Government's beautiful policies. They were great policies! The honourable member for Bruce knows all about it. He could not even speak for longer than five minutes on his Party's policies for small business.


Mr Shipton —What about your policies?


Mr HUMPHREYS —I well know what the honourable member's policies are and all the business people in Australia know what they are.


Mr Shipton —I want to know about yours.


Mr HUMPHREYS —The Minister for Communications and Acting Minister Assisting the Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr Duffy) pointed out to the honourable member what our policies are. Let us keep going on the previous Government's record-double figure inflation, soaring interest rates and bankruptcies. It had the highest incidence of bankruptcies in the history of this nation and the honourable member sits there and says that the Australian Labor Party has no policies for small business. What hypocrites the members of the Opposition really are.

I will just remind honourable members opposite of the history of the previous Government. We have to look only at the figures of new bankruptcies for the years 1979 and 1980. They show the drastic effect of the stringent policies towards small business from the previous Government. The total number of bankruptcies for the year 1979-80 was an astonishing 4,979.


Mr Duffy —How many?


Mr HUMPHREYS —It was 4,979, a 29 per cent increase over that of the previous year. In real terms that means that bankruptcies during the time Fraser first took office until 1980 represented an increase of 162 per cent. How do honourable members opposite like that? Where were their policies for the small business people? There is no other way to describe these figures but as an absolute and abject failure, and a failure to maintain the commitment to the small business people of this country, who are well aware of the previous Government's great policies! I remind the honourable member for Higgins and the honourable member for Bruce of the time of Malcom Fraser's term of office. They were both in parliament at the time. The honourable member for Bruce did not last too long under those policies, but he has come back in the seat of the previous Speaker.


Mr Shipton —Yes, with the swing in his favour. That is how he came back.


Mr HUMPHREYS —I know about the swing. We have seen what happened to the swing in Queensland. Do not worry about the swing as far as Liberal Party policies are concerned. Well over 15,000 bankruptcies occurred during Malcolm Fraser's term of office. And the honourable member for Higgins was there supporting Malcolm Fraser all the way. Madam Deputy Speaker, I do not really want to keep going on the subject of bankruptcies because, as I read on, the figures, as you can imagine, get worse and worse. Let us look at the previous Government's taxation policies. Honourable members opposite say that we have a high taxation policy. I remind the honourable member for Higgins of the 20 per cent sales tax on small boats. What did his Government do to the boat building industry of Australia, especially in my electorate? It put a 20 per cent sales tax on that industry. Let us see what happened to employment in that industry whilst honourable members opposite were in government. Norman R. Wright and Sons Pty Ltd is a very big and famous boat building firm in Australia. Norman Wright was one of the skippers of Gretel. Honourable members would all remember the Wrights of Queensland. In 1981 his firm employed 32 people. In 1983 after the previous Government's policy was implemented the number of staff was down to 20. Millkraft Thompson Boatyards Pty Ltd is another famous small boat builder in Queensland, in my electorate. In 1981 it employed 28 people. After the imposition of the 20 per cent sales tax it employed three. B. J. Flanigan Engineering Pty Ltd employed 24 people. That figure is now down to 13. H. Morris Boatbuilder Pty Ltd employed 14. That is now down to eight. This does not just involve the boat building industry. One can imagine all the industries associated with boat building. I refer to the engineers who are associated with boat building and all the motors which have to go into those small boats, all the sails and all the other side industries which the previous Government crippled as a result of its small business policies. And honourable members opposite talk about us taxing small business. What about the 20 per cent sales tax on those boats?

Let me get back to the lies here today. Let me put finish to the lies of honouable members opposite today. The honourable member for Higgins said we did not do anything. Opposition members told this Parliament that the Labor Government did not do anything. What happened to that 20 per cent sales tax on those boats? Did we as a government remove that innocuous 20 per cent sales tax, which the previous Government had put on the boat builders? Of course we did. I will read from the notes of the Minister for Sport, Recreation and Tourism and the Minister Assisting the Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr John Brown) in this House. Honourable members opposite waited till he was overseas. Like a thief in the night they sneaked in here and waited until he was overseas to bring this matter on. That is what they did. They were not game to take him on and they thought we would let them get off scott free. The small business people of Australia know what frauds they are. They waited till he left the country and then came in here to attack him. Let me remind honourable members opposite of what they are and what they represented before. They should not worry about not sneaking in and taking on the great Minister for Sport, Recreation and tourism and Minister assisting the Minister for Industry and Commerce in this House. He would have had a picnic with Opposition members today. We are just having a little picnic with them, but it is hurting and I am glad they are singing out because we know we are hurting them. I refer to the notes in which the Minister stated:

With the 20% tax on the top of the established price, the Boat Building Industry in Queensland and, perhaps, throughout Australia is no longer a viable industry.

This is a result of the policy of honourable members opposite. I have quoted from the notes I have here.


Mr Lindsay —The Liberal Party ruined the Australian boat building industry.


Mr HUMPHREYS —Exactly. The Minister continues:

The Tourist Islands are all building boats as 'ferries' or 'tug boats' and not as tourist boats for charter cruises because of the tax levy.

Does the honourable member for Higgins see what he has done to the tourist industry? He is the spokesman for the tourist industry. Those involved in the industry well know what he has done to their industry also with his total nonsense.


Mr Shipton —Tell us about the shambles of the diesel fuel subsidy.


Mr HUMPHREYS —Never mind about the diesel fuel subsidy or anything like that. The Minister continued:

Any vessel, regardless whether it is for Tourism or recreation, or private use, has to pay the tax irrespective of what they are used for in reality. It is simply presumed that they are all luxury vessels.

I appreciate why the previous Government had to introduce the legislation for the 20 per cent sales tax. It was because all the tax dodgers and the friends of honourable members opposite were defrauding the boat building industry by building those luxury boats and by saying they were going to have them only as hire vessels. They hired them to their friends for three days and then they said : 'Well, we fulfilled our obligation to the Government'. They then had all the subsidies. We understand why the previous Government introduced that legislation . The previous Government's policy showed a total neglect of what the industry was all about.


Mr Aldred —Hurry up and get on with something concrete. Your time is almost up.


Mr HUMPHREYS —It is hurting. I know what the previous Government did. We all know. The people around Australia know what was done to that industry. This is only one industry which I have mentioned today.


Mr Aldred —You have used your speech on trivia. What happened to your promises of 13 February?


Mr HUMPHREYS —Do not worry about what happened to our promises. What did the honourable member's Government do to the industries of Australia? Madam Deputy Speaker, I think I have proved conclusively today what the Liberals are all about and what their policies for small business represent. We have the policies . We have been in government for seven months and the small business sector of this country is accepting our Government everywhere I go. All my friends whom I have had in small business over the many years are saying what a great job we are doing. We will continue to do that great job.


Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mrs Child) —Order! The honourable member's time has expired. The discussion is concluded.