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Thursday, 17 November 1983
Page: 2902


Mr HURFORD (Minister for Housing and Construction and Minister Assisting the Treasurer)(5.35) —in reply-I thank all those honourable members who took part in the debate on this legislation-the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, and honourable member for Bennelong (Mr Howard), the honourable member for Bendigo (Mr Brumby), the honourable member for Braddon (Mr Groom) and the honourable member for Wakefield (Mr Andrew)-for their contributions. I appreciate the Opposition's support of these measures. Admittedly, they are of a technical kind. I give notice that, in the Taxation Administration Amendment Bill which we are debating cognately with the Bank Account Debits Tax Legislation Amendment Bill, a couple of small printing errors in the Bill as circultated and moved require the House to go into Committee shortly to make the necessary changes. I am also grateful to the Opposition for facilitating the passage, particularly of the second Bill, as it was only introduced on Tuesday. I appreciate the Opposition's courtesy in this matter.

The Deputy Leader of the Opposition addressed himself mainly to the Bank Account Debits Tax Legislation Amendment Bill, as did other honourable members. I assure him and the other honourable members that that six-monthly review is now taking place. I also assure the House that the position of voluntary associations is being considered. I have written, on behalf of the Treasurer (Mr Keating), to hundreds of associations and to many members of this House assuring them that this would be so. As usual, the Hawke Labor Government is keeping its promises. I noted what the Deputy Leader of the Opposition had to say about interrelationships with financial institutions' duty in all States, except Queensland, which have a financial institutions' duty tax. I agree with him thoroughly that we need more effort in seeking complementarity between State and Federal imposts of this sort. There is also a need for uniformity of collection between States. This Federation which we are seeking to govern is a cumbersome one. Indeed, it requires more and more consultation between State and Federal authorities. Officials are meeting on the subject of seeking that complementarity. That was mentioned again at the June Premiers Conference and Loan Council meeting.

The Deputy Leader of the Opposition spent most of his time advocating an increase in indirect taxes. I say straight away that he was saying that in the context of wanting to reduce direct income taxes. I do not make any political point about this other than to say that his eloquence abut equity was noted. I remind him that when he talks about increasing indirect taxes he should mention I think that there is an urgent need for adjusting incomes of people in the lower income group. The difficulties arise in seeking adjustments to those receiving low award wages, unemployment and sickness benefits, aged and invalid pensions and so on. I say no more on that matter.

It needs to be said that when he and his colleagues in the previous Government raised this subject they failed to make that point. He did not make that point again today. But I assure everybody in this country that the Hawke Labor Government will not desert those on lower incomes. It recognises that, if there are to be more and more indirect taxes, there is a regressive nature about indirect taxes and such adjustments would be absolutely essential. I confirm that the Economic Planning Advisory Council is acting as a catalyst for tax reform work which is being carried out within the Government. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has pointed out that, overall, our tax is below the average of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries. I assure him that members of this Hawke Labor Government want to keep it that way. We are not a high tax party. We want to be a fair tax government. Once again I thank the House for its support of these technical changes.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.