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Thursday, 19 February 1987
Page: 350

Mr CLEELAND(1.50) —Madam Speaker. It is always a pleasure to follow the honourable member for Lyons (Mr Burr), particularly in regard to his latest statements as to the concern of the Premier of Tasmania about what is happening in this country. We know now that the reality is that Premier Gray is now controlled by the faceless men of Queensland, the men who are putting up $25m to control the conservative forces. We do not know who these faceless people are, but we do know that Robin Gray, at the bidding and snap of the fingers of Joh Bjelke-Petersen, will fly to Queensland and have secret meetings. They are secret because no one knows who attends them. No one knows who is pulling the strings on this man from Queensland called Joh Bjelke-Petersen, but we do not know that there are in Australia forces which, in Queensland, have got what they wanted in profit terms by supporting the secret National Party funding up there. So when honourable member for Lyons talks about Premier Gray and his great concern, the people of Tasmania should ask the Premier what he is doing in flying up having secret meetings with the Premier of Queensland and why he says that he will support him in becoming the Prime Minister and then, when Mr Valder tells him to shut up, that he will not. That is what is happening in Tasmania. It is not a case of Gray's controlling the argument, controlling the forestry system. It is these faceless men from Queensland who are now trying to dictate the political agenda of this country. Every Australian should be very concerned indeed.

I remember well in the days of that great Australian Arthur Caldwell, when Sir Robert Menzies was Prime Minister, how the Opposition was taunted by the conservative forces about the so-called 36 faceless men. But they were known. Everyone knew the structure of the Australian Labor Party. There is nothing secret about our Party. Its executive, its membership, is published for all to see. We will not find the Premier of Queensland publishing. We will not find the Queensland National Party publishing. We will not find the people who are putting up the money for the Queensland National Party publishing who they are. They will not say publicly how much money they are putting up. They will not say what demands they are making, what the payout to them for supporting the Queensland Premier is to be. Those men are truly faceless; no one knows them. All of the people on the other side of this chamber are frightened of the Queensland Premier, as well they should be. They should be very frightened of him. He has twice as much money to spend against them and the Labor Government as they have. His funds are apparently inexhaustible. He has the Queensland taxpayers, mind you, giving him an aeroplane in which to fly around Australia. It is not costing the Premier anything. He can fly anywhere he likes. It is being paid for from the Queensland purse. He is elected by the Queensland people to protect, one would think, their interests, but he spends little or no time now in Queensland. He is now up in the Northern Territory campaigning for these strange people they call the members of the Joh Party. If I were a member of the Opposition I would not be cheekily seeking to interject. I would be worried. He is after them as well. He has no time for them on their policies. He thinks that the Liberal Party is the greatest joke of all time, that its policies would destroy this country. We agree with that. We know it to be true. We know that if the Liberal Party's policies on taxation were put into effect they would put this country into a nosedive from which it would never recover.

If honourable members opposite listened carefully yesterday to the world's greatest treasurer, Mr Keating, when he costed the promises that the Liberal Party had already published at $14 billion-if they were game enough to listen to that-they should be feeling pretty worried, if only as Australians surely. They should not be sitting in this House today trying to be cocky. They should not be sitting in this House pointing a finger at us and replying that we do not know what we are talking about, that we should be worried about Joh Bjelke-Petersen. They are the ones who should be worried, who should be panicking. The expenditure of that $25m is first to be directed to getting them under his total control. It is to be directed also to getting the people on the cross benches, the National Party members, to do his bidding and that of the faceless men from Queensland-the people we do not know about. Joh will not say who is giving him the money, so those National Party members will be coming under the control of faceless people from Queensland. They will not have control of policy.

Mr Saunderson —They are bottom of the harbour people.

Mr CLEELAND —Probably the bottom of the harbour people have all fled up there.

Mr Saunderson —The Gold Coast tax evaders.

Mr CLEELAND —The honourable member for Aston put it very correctly indeed. They are the people who gave this country some of the problems that it now has. Every Australian has great reason to be concerned. Let us have a look at some of this tax mythology, some of this mysterious gobbledegook that comes from the mouth of this geriatric from Queensland about this 25 per cent, of which he says: `Well, my golly gosh, my goodness gracious me, yes, do not worry, do not ask me questions, do not examine what I mean by 25 per cent; just listen to me and I will fix it all up'. My golly gosh, indeed. Frankly, he worries the pants off me. Let us have a look at what he says. The level of taxation is to be 25 per cent. Under this Government's proposed tax changes, a person on a gross income of $28,000 a year will from 1 July be paying at a tax rate of 25 per cent. That means that anyone who earns less than $28,000 a year, and the vast majority of Australians fall in that category-will under Joh's plan pay substantial increased taxation. Of course, the Premier of Queensland says: `Do not worry about it; you will be quite all right, by golly gosh' and all that triviality that he goes on with.

He says that he is going to look after the farmers. He is going to make sure that under a 25 per cent tax rate the Australian farmers will benefit. He obviously does not read Bureau of Agricultural Economics statistics. He does not seem to understand that our farmers are undergoing a crisis, that most farming incomes are under $28,000 a year. So what he is really saying to Australian farmers is that under his big proposal of a 25 per cent tax, he will increase their rate of taxation. The Australian farmer, the person whom Joh is supposedly going to assist under his rather strange, unthought out proposals, will, in effect, pay more tax. Why Australian farmers would support the National Party in the first place has always amazed me. Why they would support Joh Bjelke-Petersen defies understanding because he wants to increase the rate of tax that would be applicable to them. That the Opposition has not enough honesty and integrity as a political party to enter the debate fairly and openly and say to every Australian that it is not the marginal rate of tax but rather the average rate that is applicable to one's income that counts, is to its eternal shame. The reality is that under the Government's proposed tax changes, which will operate from 1 July 1987, a person who receives a gross salary of $45,000 a year-every parliamentarian will be interested in these figures-will pay tax at a rate of 33 per cent-not 60 per cent tax, or 46 per cent tax but 33 per cent. That is the real rate of tax that will be applicable.

Mr Cadman —You cannot explain that in your electorate.

Mr CLEELAND —I know that the honour- able member does not understand it. I am using words of more than two syllables, language that is beyond his comprehension, but if he listens he may just learn something. My one hope in speaking in this chamber is that if one keeps talking long enough about taxation and sufficient of the Opposition stay here to listen, they may gain some insight into the taxation principles and laws of this country.

Mr Cunningham —What were those figures again?

Mr CLEELAND —The rate of taxation payable on a salary of $45,000 a year will be 33 per cent. I know that honourable members opposite will try to con the Australian people with their rather mythical proposals which one day we will be able to debate. The honourable member for Bennelong (Mr Howard), who is the Leader of the Opposition, has now entered the chamber. One day he may tell the Australian people exactly what he is going to do to them in regard to taxation. One day he may have enough courage to stand up and actually debate in real terms what he is talking about. When the National Party, when Joh and the faceless men of Queensland, tell him what their policy is, when it filters down through the system and he is told what to come out with, we will know what the policy is to be. Then we will be able to debate it and the Leader of the Opposition can tell the Australian people whether in fact he has a tax policy, whether the Opposition has anything at all to present. I look forward intensely to the day when all honourable members on this side of the chamber will be able to engage in a realistic debate with Opposition members about taxation. It is extremely difficult to do that right now. I do not understand what they are talking about and, of course, they have not a policy to present. I look forward to the day they do with a great deal of intensity. I am quite happy to engage any member on the other side of the chamber in any real debate about taxation.

Madam SPEAKER —Order! It being 2 p.m., in accordance with standing order 106, as amended for this session, the debate is interrupted.

Question resolved in the affirmative.