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Thursday, 19 February 1987
Page: 313

Mr HODGMAN(10.03) —The Hawke socialist Government has taxed Australia to the brink of bankruptcy. The workers of this country have had a gutful and the tax revolution of 1987 has now begun. I do not shrink from saying in this Parliament that the current Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) and the current Treasurer (Mr Keating) are the greatest tax bandits in the history of Australia. Together, they have robbed the taxpayers of Australia mercilessly. They have deceived and defrauded the workers of this country and their families. They have killed incentive stone dead.

Mr Wright —Madam Speaker, I raise a point of order. Yesterday when this debate was on, the Deputy Speaker repeatedly prevented Government members from developing any aspect of this debate except that pertaining to the legislation before the House. I ask: Will that be the ruling today because yesterday honourable members were prevented from canvassing all relevant issues and were told that they had to stick to the Bill.

Madam SPEAKER —Order! As the honourable member knows full well, I was not in the chair during the debate yesterday. I take the debate up from today.

Mr HODGMAN —Thank you, Madam Speaker. It does not surprise me that Government members are starting to get shaky in their shoes because, on tax, they have been caught out. They have killed incentive stone dead. Their so-called tax cuts, of which I shall speak in a moment, are nothing but a monumental confidence trick.

To set the scene for this debate, I remind the Parliament, and the Australian community listening to this broadcast, that an average Australian family today is paying $31.50 more in tax each week under Prime Minister Hawke and Treasurer Keating than it was paying under Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser. To put it in a simple way, they make Malcolm Fraser look like Father Christmas. Each week, to pay the costs of this exorbitant, extravagant Hawke socialist Government, each family is paying an extra $31.50--

Government members interjecting-

Mr HODGMAN —I know that honourable members opposite do not like it, but they are going to get a lot more of this. They are going to get it right up the bracket.

Mr Cunningham —Madam Speaker, I raise a point of order. The legislation before the House does not deal at all with the matters that are being raised by the honourable member for Denison. He is misleading the House. The $14,000m which the Opposition is proposing is more likely to be today's issue.

Madam SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member for McMillan will resume his seat. I point out to the honourable member for Denison that I have not had an opportunity to read the Bill; however, I will expect him to stick to it.

Mr HODGMAN —Absolutely, Madam Speaker. I will keep to the 35 clauses of the Taxation Laws Amendment Bill (No. 5) and the amendment. Madam Speaker, you have not read the Bill; you have a very heavy work load. You would be shocked if you read this legislation and saw the blatant daylight robbery that is contained in it. Honourable members opposite can laugh their heads off over there, but I will tell them something: There are two three-letter words ending in `x' which attract the attention of all Australians, but the one which is going to attract the political attention of all Australians this year is `tax'. I make the following point. I have made it before and I will make it again. The average Australian family, which was promised tax cuts-lower taxes for all Australians-by the Prime Minister in 1983, is now paying an extra $31.50 a week in taxes as a direct result of the policies of this wretched, rotten Government.

Mr Hand —On a point of order, Madam Speaker: Given that the honourable member is talking about tax and the fact that it does not seem to me that the line he is running relates to the Bill, I ask him: Does he support John Howard's line or Andrew Peacock's line? Does he--

Madam SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member will resume his seat. He does not have a point of order.

Mr HODGMAN —Madam Speaker, is it not tragic? We have now had two honourable members rising in their places from the ranks of the Hawke socialist Government who clearly have not read the Bills and clearly have not read the amendment. The Taxation Laws Amendment Bill (No. 5) 1986 comprises 35 clauses. One clause in particular, which I will be arguing strongly about, concerns provisional tax. The amendment moved by my colleague the shadow Treasurer, the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Carlton), is worth re-reading. I will do so now to inform those honourable members in the Hawke socialist Government ranks who have not even looked at the legislation that is being put through this Parliament. My colleague the shadow Treasurer has moved that:

whilst not declining to give the Bill a second reading, the House-

(1) expresses its concern over the excessive delay in the introduction of the legislation, relating as it does to measures announced as long ago as 19 September 1985;

(2) deplores the creation of uncertainty and confusion among taxpayers and in the business community due to the failure of the Government to present these and other measures to the Parliament within a reasonable time after their announcement, and

(3) condemns the Government for imposing an excessive tax burden on business, thus inhibiting new investment in productive enterprises.

The third part of that is the crunch. Speaking directly to the amendment, if ever a government has taxed all incentive out of a country, it is the Hawke socialist Government. The situation today under its policies is that the harder one battles, the harder one works and the more one tries to earn a profit, the harder one is hit over the head by the office of the Australian Commissioner of Taxation. This is a government which has bled Australia white. It is a government which has robbed all incentive from this country. It is a government which has lied and deceived--

Madam SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member will withdraw that remark.

Mr HODGMAN —Misrepresented and deceived. Between them, the Prime Minister and the Treasurer have robbed Australia blind. If honourable members do not believe me, let them go out into the streets. It is no wonder that the Prime Minister said to the Treasurer: `Spend a bit more time in the supermarkets'. We know that he did not spend much time in the supermarkets of Bankstown during the recent State by-election there. Honourable members should talk to the housewives of this country. They do not believe the Government's figures on inflation and their husbands who are paying the bills do not believe the Government, either. The Government's credibility is zilch. It has robbed Australia blind. On the question of tax, the Hawke socialist Government is now as dead as Julius Caesar. It is going to cop such a thrashing at the next Federal election it will not know what hit it. The sooner that day comes the better.

Mr Wright —The fascist mouth.

Mr HODGMAN —He can squeal as much as he likes, that retread, recycled politician from north Queensland. He will not put me off the thrust of what I am saying because what I am saying to him is that politically he is finished.

This Government has deceived the people of Australia to the most monumental extent ever in the history of this country. Do honourable members recall that magnificent theatrical performance on the steps of the Sydney Opera House when the pretender to the prime ministership and, he thought, later the presidency of some Australian socialist republic, stood there and said: `Ninety-five per cent of Australian workers will get tax cuts immediately under my Government'? What do we have? The first of the so-called tax cuts has already come into effect and has been properly branded by every rational economist in this country as a fraud and a confidence trick. I repeat: The average Australian family today pays $31.50 more in taxes each week than it paid under Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser. But it is not just the direct taxation; it is the indirect taxation. Look what this Government has done with the automatic indexation of excise. This Government stands to a win to nothing if it keeps inflation running high because the higher inflation runs the higher the excise goes.

What is the situation today for the average Australian worker under this great workers' Prime Minister? If a worker wants an eight ounce glass of beer he has to pay a dollar for it. If he wants to drive his motor vehicle, 60 per cent of the price of the petrol he pays goes into the coffers of Canberra. If a pensioner in an old age home with only $6 to play with each week wants to buy cigarettes, he can get two packets of cigarettes. This is a government which has taken beer and a smoke out of the financial range of the average worker. But what has it done in relation to the cost of living? The level of poverty in this country has risen dramatically because not only has this Government taxed Australia and bled it white but, as part of its economic policy, it is also encouraging higher rates of inflation as part of its economic policies. It has nothing of which to be proud and everything of which to be ashamed. It has deliberately set out to kill incentive. Its fringe benefits tax, capital gains tax and lump sum superannuation tax are all designed to prevent people from being prudent and to prevent people from being innovative and having a go in business. Each one of those will be repealed by the incoming Liberal-National Party Government as soon as we gain office, which we will at the next election.

Who remembers that lie, that mistruth, that misrepresentation: `There will be no capital gains tax'? What is there? There is the most vicious capital gains tax in the Western world. How can anybody ever again believe anything that that terrible little man ever said. The fringe benefits tax has killed the Australian passenger motor vehicle industry stone dead. There have been 160,000 fewer vehicles sold because of the Government's deliberate policies; yet it claims to stand for Australian manufacturing.

Madam SPEAKER —Order! Could I suggest that the honourable member now return to the Bill.

Mr HODGMAN —Yes. Thank you, Madam Speaker. I want to deal specifically with provisional tax, about which I have very strong views which I want to express clearly. I put it to this Parliament that it is about time we switched around the whole structure of the Income Tax Assessment Act, which we will do in government, as our shadow Treasurer, the honourable member for Mackellar, has repeatedly and correctly stated. Where the present legislation is loaded with disincentives, we will load it with incentives. In other words, we will encourage Australians to get up and have a go.

Mr Simmons —Incentivation?

Mr HODGMAN —It will be something which will give the achievers of Australia a chance to achieve-incentivation, if one likes to call it that. I do not care how one says it; I want to see it, but we will not see it under this Government. Madam Speaker, let me put something to you, a reasonable and, if one might say so, very fair person. What do you think about this proposition? A young Australian decided to start up a business-and I will give you a classic case, one in Glenorchy in my electorate of Denison-and set up a panel beating business. After a couple of months he had two employees, one of whom was an apprentice. After a year he had seven employees. He worked very hard. What did this Government say to him? `You have worked so hard and you have done so well that we are going to get the tax from you in advance'. Just think of the logic of that-`You have done well, so we want the money from you in advance'. So he trotted around the corner to his bank manager and borrowed, at 18 1/2 per cent interest, the money to pay his provisional tax.

The second year he did even better; he increased his staff to 14 and doubled his turnover. Business was flowing in. The Hawke socialist Government said to that young man: `You have done too well this year. We again want our money in advance, but this time we want more from you. What is more, we have changed the law. If you do not agree with our assessment of your provisional tax, you cannot go to your friendly Federal member for Denison and ask him to write a letter to the Deputy Commissioner; that is not on any more. You have to lodge a formal objection. You have to put up $200 and wait 18 months to have your case heard. If it turns out that you are more than 10 per cent out in your assessment of provisional tax, you are going to be thumped a penalty of 20 per cent and we will take you to the cleaners'.

Mr Fife —Jackboots stuff.

Mr HODGMAN —What is this? `Jackboots', says the former Minister. Is this Australia or the Soviet Union?

Mr Katter —Heil Hitler!

Mr HODGMAN —My honourable, distinguished and gallant colleague is so right. The plain fact of the matter is that that young man came to my office in tears the other day and said: `I am quitting. What is the point? The harder I work, the more I battle, the more Hawke and Keating hit me over the head'. He is now out of business and 14 employees are on the dole. I refer to the case of a lass who works as a casual--

Madam SPEAKER —I hate to interrupt the honourable member, but he is really straying very far from the provisional tax dealt with in the Bill.

Mr HODGMAN —No, Madam Speaker, if you will hear me. What this legislation does is to change the payment of provisional tax from a 12-monthly basis to a 3-monthly basis. I will question the logic of that, because if the Government is prepared to move to three months, I question why we need to have it at all. This is just my personal view, of course, but I have talked to people who have been put out of business daily by this Government-not your Government, Madam Speaker, thank heaven.

Take the case of the lass who came to see me the other day. She works as a casual cleaner in a Hobart metropolitan hotel. She has been presented with a provisional tax assessment which is 80 per cent higher than the assessment by her accountant, who is one of the most experienced and best accountants in Tasmania.

Mr Simmons —Ha, ha!

Mr HODGMAN —The honourable member can laugh, but it is not funny to her, because she will be required to pay an amount that is 80 per cent above what her accountant says should be her true provisional tax. She said to me: `Mr Hodgman, I cannot find $200 to lodge an objection. I cannot have this matter litigated. I will have to pay it, or I might just give up work and go on the dole'. That is what this Government's tax policy is doing to young Australians. They are saying: `What is the point of it?'.

Take the person who pays tax at the maximum marginal rate because he or she dares to take a bit of Saturday employment. The Government does not just get into those who work overtime at weekends. The boundary umpires, football umpires and part-time drink stewards-the people who try to improve themselves-are also paying some provisional tax.

Tell me what will happen to those poor old people whose only income happens to be interest. The pensioners of Australia, the people who put money away for investment, will be paying provisional tax on their interest three months before they receive it, and in some cases six months before they receive it. What will the Government do to the poor old pensioner who is paid interest once a year? I can say from my experience that that will apply to probably 40 per cent of widows, where the investment is locked in and the interest payment is once a year. This wretched socialist Government will demand payments from those persons every three months, before they have the income. The bandicoot and the ferret will take the tax from them.

What will the Government do to seasonal manufacturers? It will say to the person who manufactures surfboards or swimming gear: `You will be paying provisional tax on your product in the middle of winter'. The people who manufacture football boots, footballs, ski equipment and the like will be paying provisional tax in the middle of a 25 degree, 30 degree or 35 degree summer's day. This is lunatic legislation. As my colleague the shadow Treasurer, the honourable member for Mackellar, has pointed out, the legislation has been in the making for nearly two years. Even then, this incompetent Government could not get it right.

Mr Fife —Ned Kelly stuff.

Mr HODGMAN —That is an insult to Ned Kelly. The Prime Minister and the Treasurer make Ned Kelly look like an apprentice choirboy. I have before me a document entitled `A guide to tax reform', which is a guide to the Government's draft White Paper on tax reform presented to the National Taxation Summit in July 1985. This legislative package was announced on 19 September 1985. Here we are debating it in February 1987. An elephant could almost have been made in the time that it has taken the Government to come forward with the legislation.

The Australian taxation legislation is a shambles; it is a legal jungle; it is an accountant's nightmare. The Government is putting the most onerous obligation on the professional people of this country, because if they are out one iota people will not be faced with just fines and penalties; the Government is intimidating them with the threat of gaol. Worse still, the Government has taken upon itself the right to retrospectivity, to say that something which was legal at the time will not be legal. The Government will be able to go back seven years. If people think that the Government is interested only in the present, I assure them that it is not. We know that it is interested in the past, because it puts its greedy hands into the graves of dead Australians. We know that it is interested in the future, because it reserves the right to change the whole ball game as and when it thinks fit.

Unfortunately, due to the interruptions, I do not have the time to go through all the details, the damning indictments, of this Government's outrageous treatment of the people of Australia. The tax issue will put the Government out of office. The Government has robbed the country blind; it has killed incentive; it has misled and deceived; and it continues to defraud the people of this great nation. It will be thrown out of office at the next election. The day cannot come soon enough for me. Roll on the tax revolution of 1987 which will be the Government's political epitaph.