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Friday, 28 November 1986
Page: 3941

Mr SINCLAIR (Manager of Opposition Business)(10.04) —I am indebted to the Leader of the House (Mr Young) for his comments on my sartorial elegance. I can assure him that any resemblance between me and members of the Liberal Party is only because I happen to be sitting with them, very temporarily, on this side of the House. We intend to be on the other side as soon as possible.

Mr Howard —You have ruined a good friendship.

Mr SINCLAIR —A very good friendship. Obviously there is within the motion that the Leader of the House has moved a sinister overtone. Behind that benign exterior and that bland Irish manner of his lies the inevitable consequence that this motion means yet again that we are hostage to Senate fortunes. Yesterday we had a motion that had us begging on bended knee for Senate approval to call before a parliamentary committee certain members of the Senate so that a committee of this place, pursuing a reference sent by you, Madam Speaker, might be able to conclude its deliberations. Today we find that, because the Senate undertaking properly in accordance with its procedures its scrutiny of the Government's legislation may not be ready to pass legislation over to us, we are all going to be kept back late this evening. We have had a number of discussions in this place about the tardiness of the Government in getting its program before us. There are a number of very serious matters that we believe the House should consider, and it would have been far more appropriate had the Leader of the House, exercising that customary parliamentary skill with which we have come to be familiar, instead of suggesting that we sit late tonight had said that the House should resume next Monday or Tuesday, or even Wednesday. That would have been far more appropriate, given the fact that there is quite a deal of legislation before the Senate and a number of very serious matters affecting the well-being of the people of Australia that we believe should be considered.

In particular, the Minister needs to have in mind two circumstances. The first is that today is, of course, fringe benefits tax day.

Mr Nehl —Shame!

Mr SINCLAIR —This will have a consequence for ordinary Australians, as my colleague from Cowper has so vocally demonstrated, which is of great worry to them. In the hilarity of the end of session it is easy to forget that Australians face both a financial penalty for failing to lodge their returns under the fringe benefits tax legislation and a significant consequence in terms of the administrative responsibility that the legislation imposes upon them. They get no tax deduction if they require their financial advisers to prepare their returns. Therefore, 28 November 1986 is really the farewell Bob tax day in more ways than one. I am not sure whether `FBT' is quite as appropriate as `FPT' because it seems now that it is farewell Paul day rather than farewell Bob day. If there is to be a consequence of extending the sitting hours of this Parliament, it should be that we pass on to all taxpayers the munificence that obviously the taxman has given to the Treasurer (Mr Keating). If as a result of there being an obligation on those who have to fill in their fringe benefits tax--

Mr N.A. Brown —Can you put it off for a few years?

Mr SINCLAIR —I thought we might put it off for a couple of years, as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition suggests. I believe that instead of just adjourning a little later, as it is now intended, we should resume next week to consider legislation I am sure the Leader of the House would be prepared to introduce which would give all taxpayers the same dispensation that obviously the Treasurer himself enjoys.

In that climate, I say to the House that we do not accept that it is necessary for the House to sit late today. It would be far better if we resumed next week, when we would be only too happy once again to hear the Leader of the House and his colleagues give their answers to what seems to us all to be the very serious problems facing ordinary Australians as a result of the policies their Government is pursuing.

Question resolved in the affirmative.