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Friday, 1 May 1987
Page: 2446


Mr TUCKEY —Does the Prime Minister remember that most sacked workers at Robe River claimed and received the dole during the period that they were sacked, and that no effort was made by the Government to recover those payments when the Western Australian Industrial Commission ordered Peko-Wallsend to reinstate those workers and make payment of $2m in compensation? Is the Prime Minister further aware that Peko-Wallsend deducted pay as you earn tax from those compulsory payments? Is he further aware that, as a result of intense union pressure, the Western Australian Deputy Commissioner of Taxation has now ruled that Peko-Wallsend must refund the PAYE deductions-which range from $200 to $1,800 per employee, and average $1,000 per employee-to approximately 600 workers--

Government members interjecting-


Mr TUCKEY —I am pleased honourable members opposite agree. Was that ruling on the grounds that the payment was compensation, not wages? In the light of this triple dipping, what action will the Government take in regard to this act of tax avoidance and welfare fraud by trade unions affiliated with the Australian Labor Party?


Mr HAWKE —I am not aware of the details to which the honourable member refers. I give him an undertaking that I will have a look at the circumstances and I will give him a detailed response. But let me say this: We do not interfere in the decisions of the Commissioner of Taxation--


Mr Hodgman —The Treasurer does.


Mr HAWKE —Of course, I repudiate entirely-as would any reasonable person-that inane interjection from a person who is not even good enough to get on to the front bench of the Liberal Party of Australia. One has to be very crook not to manage that achievement, I can tell you. For the honourable member for Denison to say `The Treasurer does' is an indication of why perhaps in this particular area the Leader of the Opposition may have made a sound judgment. We do not interfere with the decisions of the Commissioner of Taxation, but it is a reasonable question for the honourable member for O'Connor to put to me. I will look at the matter and I will give him a detailed response.