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Monday, 23 February 1987
Page: 494

Mr TICKNER —I ask whether the Treasurer can inform the House of the extent to which the base broadening measures in the tax reform package paid for the personal income tax cuts of 1 December last and 1 July this year. What would the effects be on the Commonwealth Budget deficit if the Government were to drop these new revenue measures, restore deductibility for business lunches, restore negative gearing, and abandon the indexation of excises?

Mr Spender —Madam Speaker, I raise a point of order. The honourable gentleman in the last part of his question said: `What would the effect be if . . .'. That is clearly hypothetical. Questions are not to contain hypothetical matter and should be ruled out of order.

Madam SPEAKER —The honourable member is asking the Treasurer for information. I call the Treasurer.

Mr KEATING —It is interesting that the honourable member for North Sydney and others think their Leader is so weak that they must protect him each day by this frivolous and stupid attempt to limit Question Time through the Standing Orders when they know that in these areas they have no ground whatever. If the Leader of the Opposition wants to expose and parade his weakness by the minute, that is fine so far as I am concerned. In response to the honourable member for Hughes, could I say that the base broadening of the tax reform measures is very profound. The broadening of the base is the first substantial broadening of the direct income tax base in the history of the income tax system. The base broadening measures provide $1.5 billion of the $4.5 billion of tax cuts, $3 billion of which is financed by cuts in outlays. But many of these measures would be put asunder if Opposition members were in a position to be the government of this country.

It was very amusing that last Friday afternoon Senator Messner, the Opposition spokesman on taxation, in publishing a ready reckoner on tax, slipped into the public debate a document which purported to junk some of their tax commitments, but to list costing of current commitments at $870m. It will be recalled that last week I detailed commitments of $14.715 billion, and what is interesting about Senator Messner's latest proclamation is that so many of the computations of mine, such as substantiation-the former commitments of the Opposition-are no longer referred to. What we are led to believe is that substantiation is now dropped. Tax deductibility of entertainment expenses is not referred to. Restoration of negative gearing for property investment is not referred to. Implementing income splitting, $2.85 billion-not referred to. We have heard so much about the family--

Mr Blunt —I take a point of order, Madam Speaker. Last week I raised with you a point of order that you yourself took in relation to a previous Speaker of this House. You said to the then Speaker:

The Minister will answer the question and not engage in irrelevancies, such as contrasting the Government and the Labor Party.

My recollection of the question posed to the Treasurer was that it contained a request for information, in your words, about changing certain government policies. It did not ask him for any information concerning the policies of the Opposition.

Madam SPEAKER —Order! The question would have been out of order if it did so, because Opposition policy should not be mentioned in questions. However, these policies can be mentioned in answers provided that they are relevant to the answers the Treasurer is giving. I think they are relevant in accordance with the information he is giving the person who posed the question. I might add that no Speaker in this House has ever felt slavishly bound to follow his or her predecessors' rulings. I call the Treasurer.

Mr KEATING —We have heard so much hollow talk from the Opposition about the family-that is other than the 700,000 families it threw on the unemployment queues. We find that the income splitting promise of $2.8 billion, which underpins all this talk about the family, was not mentioned on Friday-it is out. Repeal of the wine sales tax-all the commitments by the Deputy Leader of the National Party in his farm industry and rural economy speech of 1 February, which he said have the endorsement of the National Party, have been knocked back into history. I refer to fully rebating the excise on fuel, abolition of automatic fuel excise indexation, abolition of meat inspection charges, repeal of the wine tax-all of those things were not mentioned.

Opposition members interjecting-

Mr KEATING —The Leader of the National Party was out at the weekend currying favour with certain constituencies and the Liberal Party is then denying these promises in the Parliament under scrutiny. Introduction of child care rebate-not mentioned. Abolition of indexation of fuel excise-not mentioned. Restoration of income equalisation deposits-not mentioned. Reinstatement of immediate write-off for conserving and conveying water-not mentioned. Abolition of the sales tax on oil and lubricants-not mentioned. Abolition of the excise on brandy-not mentioned. The personal income tax rate scale, $6.65 billion-not mentioned. The interesting thing is that when the office of the Leader of the Opposition was contacted late on Friday-of course, we all understand about late Fridays, accountability and what falls into the newspaper on Saturday, do we not-the Press Secretary of the Leader of the Opposition was asked whether the list was a full costing of the Opposition's promises. He answered: `I suppose not'. So the tax spokesman has issued this derisory list-$870m down from $14 billion-but, when asked whether it was a complete list, the answer was: `I suppose not'. But on the weekend the Leader of the Opposition stated:

My chief concern . . . has been the integrity of the Liberal Party and presenting . . . a credible alternative--

Mr Reith —Madam Speaker, I take a point of order. As late as last Friday you advised the House:

I suggest to the House that the Chair has no authority to shorten the answers, but I can give advice that questions and answers are becoming quite long. It might be an idea if we cut them back.

I submit, Madam Speaker, that this would be an appropriate direction to give today.

Madam SPEAKER —The House is given the same advice. We will get through more questions and answers if the answers are not so long.

Opposition members interjecting-

Madam SPEAKER —Order! The Chair has no right to make a ruling; I have told honourable members this often enough. I give advice.

Mr KEATING —So $14 billion of tax promises fell to $870m on Friday night, but Mr Howard's office said: `I suppose it is not a full list'. But on the weekend the Leader of the Opposition stated:

My chief concern . . . has been the integrity of the Liberal Party and presenting . . . a credible alternative to the Hawke Government.

In an article in the Age he is reported as saying:

If we lapse into populism the future of this country will be at risk.

Well, how about that! Australian politics is really at a low ebb when a leader of an opposition can campaign on $14 billion of commitments and then talk about lapses into populism. Three weeks ago-and this, of course, amongst other things, was an attack on the Premier of Queensland-he said:

the policy principles . . . which he has advocated-

that is, Bjelke-Petersen-

are virtually identical to what I have advocated and supported during the seventeen months I have been Leader of the Opposition.

But, according to the Australian on Saturday he stated:

The essence of his-


economic approach is that of a populist offering a miracle cure.

What we on this side of the House want to know is: What is the Opposition's tax policy? Is it $14 billion of commitments or has it diminished in regard to all these things? Is income splitting still there, or is it not still there? Are all of these other commitments, such as--

Opposition members interjecting-

Madam SPEAKER —Order! The Treasurer will bring his answer to a conclusion.

Mr KEATING —The Opposition is an absolute mess.

Madam SPEAKER —The Treasurer will bring his answer to a conclusion.

Mr KEATING —It does not have a thread of--

Opposition members interjecting-

Madam SPEAKER —Quiet!

Mr KEATING —It is innumerate and indecent. Madam Speaker, we have descended to this level: A documented and authenticated list of Opposition commitments is then driven to $870m on a Friday night, but the Leader of the Opposition says: `No, it is not a comprehensive list'. We wish to know, in the interests of the people, who do not want populism, but who want decent economic policy, whether substantiation is there, whether entertainment expenses are there, whether negative gearing is there, whether income splitting is there, whether a wine tax is there--

Opposition members interjecting-

Madam SPEAKER —Order! The House will come to order!

Mr Howard —Sit down, you mug.

Mr KEATING —You're a mug, my friend, and a very little mug at that.

Madam SPEAKER —The House will come to order!

Mr Tuckey —Madam Speaker--

Mr KEATING —The Speaker is on her feet, you idiot.

Madam SPEAKER —Do you mind? I am standing. The Treasurer will bring his answer to a conclusion.

Mr Tuckey —On a point of order, Madam Speaker, I ask the Treasurer to withdraw. You would not give Kristine a lousy thousand dollars, would you--

Madam SPEAKER —Order! I warn the honourable member for O'Connor.

Mr Tuckey —To pay for the wedding expenses. That is you, you mug.

Madam SPEAKER —I name the honourable member for O'Connor.

Motion (by Mr Young) put:

That the honourable member for O'Connor be suspended from the service of the House.

A division having been called and the bells having been rung-

Mr Tuckey —I have been named before I have even been warned.

Madam SPEAKER —Order! I ask the honourable member for O'Connor to resume his seat. He ignored the Chair. I warned him that if he kept on going--

Mr Tuckey —You did not.

Madam SPEAKER —I warned the honour- able member for O'Connor.

Mr Tuckey —No, you did not.

Madam SPEAKER —I did warn the honourable member for O'Connor.

Mr Tuckey —You were not heard, Madam Speaker.

Madam SPEAKER —Order! The Chair went through the proper procedure. The honourable member for O'Connor was shouting so loudly that he may not have heard me. He would not heed the Chair. I warned him and named him under standing order 303e.

Mr Tuckey —You did not warn me and you did not--

Madam SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member will resume his seat. The Hansard and the tape will show that I warned the honourable member for O'Connor.

Mr Tuckey —I did not hear you. You did not warn me. And what about the Treasurer?

Madam SPEAKER —Order! I did not warn the Treasurer. I advised him to bring his remarks to a conclusion.

Mr Tuckey —And he did not. Same as he rang you up and told you to take things out of Hansard.

Madam SPEAKER —Order! Sit down! You are quite out of order, totally out of order.

Mr Tuckey —One side for me and one side for him.

Madam SPEAKER —The honourable member will resume his seat.