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Monday, 4 May 1987
Page: 2484

Mr HOWARD —Does the Prime Minister deny that family allowances are to be means tested following the May economic statement? If the Government proposes the introduction of such a means test, will that economic statement also include measures which affect the incomes of households without children, or will the Prime Minister allow the heavy relative disadvantage suffered by families with children in our society under his Government to be further increased?

Mr HAWKE —My answer to the honourable gentleman's question is in two parts. First, I will obviously not say in advance what is in the statement that will be delivered in this place, properly, by the Treasurer on 13 May. I do not think that the Leader of the Opposition really expects that I would address myself to the contents of that statement before the Treasurer delivers it. The second part of my answer is that the hypocrisy which characterises the Opposition-and which is reflected in the question-never ceases to amaze those of us on this side of the House when the Opposition purports to speak for the families of this country. I remind the House of what I have said before: When one talks about the position of Australian families, one must look at the range of policies in the areas of employment, education, housing and social welfare. All those things determine the quality of life that is available to Australian families.

In examining the record of the Opposition when in government in relation to each of these areas and the record of achievement of the present Government, this Government comes out in front on every one of those issues. I say again that when we go to the election we will be talking about families, as we will be about tax. That will be at the forefront of our campaign. No matter whether one looks at employment opportunities, education in the primary and secondary spheres or in the tertiary sector, or at housing, all those elements which go towards determining the quality of life for Australian families have been significantly advanced by this Government. We have made significant moves to build into this country policies which make up for the period of neglect which characterised the seven years of government in which the Leader of the Opposition played such an important part. He can talk about families now; let him wait until the election campaign, when we will talk about families and tax until he is sick and tired of hearing about them. It will be part of the whole gamut of issues before the Australian electorate which will ensure that he and those behind him continue to sit on the Opposition side of the House.