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Tuesday, 28 April 1987
Page: 2062

Mr PORTER —I refer the Prime Minister to the disastrous impact his policies are having on Australian families, as evidenced by the social policy research unit's finding that there are now 55,000 more families living below the poverty line than when he came to power. Will the Prime Minister now implement his 1983 promise to increase the spouse rebate and the sole parent rebate to give relief to families? Will he assure the House that none of the actions proposed to be taken by the Government in the mini-Budget will further disadvantage low income families?

Mr HAWKE —I have had occasion earlier this year in Question Time to do two things. Firstly, I have indicated the very significant improvements which have been brought into effect by the policies of this Government which are based upon the understanding that in difficult economic circumstances we cannot adopt a broad-brush approach to social security and welfare. The responsible approach is to target what available resources we have to those most in need. I have pointed out in considerable detail in this House and outside it what this Government has done very successfully in that regard.

The second thing I have done-and I refer to it very briefly here-is to point out two things. The first is the impact of the previous Government's policies upon the family. It is no good in this day and age mouthing rhetoric about concern for families. We have to recognise that the condition of members of Australian families is determined by the impact of a whole range of policies which concern education, housing, employment, taxation and so on. I have pointed out the very damaging effect of the previous Government's policies in these areas.

Secondly, I have pointed out that the Opposition simply cannot have it both ways. It cannot paint itself as an alternative government which will undertake massive expenditure cuts and delude itself that in the process of giving effect to those massive expenditure cuts members of Australian families will not be adversely affected. I do not want to take up the time of the House by going into detail again about the credibility gap that still exists as far as Opposition policies are concerned. But in the area of tax, which is just as relevant as the expenditure side, I just share with members of the House, in conclusion, the quite remarkable observation of the Leader of the Opposition just a few days ago. He was appearing on the Schildberger program. He was asked by Mr Schildberger `But don't you have a problem without a tax policy?' to which the Leader of the Opposition gave this immortal and memorable reply: `We have a policy on tax, the only thing that's missing is the numbers'.