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Tuesday, 5 May 1987
Page: 2583

Mr HODGMAN(3.25) —After that pathetic speech the Treasurer (Mr Keating) should resign. He is a failed and disgraced Treasurer and the sooner he goes the better. The Hawke socialist Government has cruelly and wickedly betrayed the families of Australia and, in particular, the poor families of Australia. More than any other government in the history of this country, the Hawke socialist Government has deliberately discriminated against single income families with dependent children. This has been a calculated and deliberate discrimination based on the trendy, lefty, humanist philosophies to which the Hawke socialists are totally committed. Ben Chifley would turn in his grave.

Under the Hawke socialist Government, Australian families today are paying the highest taxation since Federation, the highest interest rates in real terms since the Great Depression and are enduring inflation five times higher than comparable Western countries. Australian families today are suffering the lowest living standards since the 1930s. The poverty of the dark depression years has returned like a black plague to haunt and hurt Australia's families in 1987. Under the Hawke-Keating policies of economic mismanagement, Australia is nationally bankrupt and Australian families are going broke.

When Malcolm Fraser finished his term of office as Prime Minister of Australia, a single income Australian family on average weekly earnings paid $65 a week in tax. Today, under Prime Minister Hawke and the cheating Hawke socialist Government, the same family is paying $102 a week in tax, an increase of over 55 per cent in just four years. Yet it was Prime Minister Hawke who faithfully promised lower taxation for 98 per cent of all Australians. This is a tax bandit government which is taxing into poverty the families of Australia with a cruel and heartless ruthlessness unparalleled in our history.

I repeat, a single income family, with dependent children, is now paying the highest taxes since Federation and $37 a week more than it was paying under Malcolm Fraser. Low income, two-income families with dependent children, where, for example, the wife works as a part-time cleaner, are also being hit for six. Hawke and Keating are making Malcolm Fraser look like Father Christmas.

I turn to interest rates. The Hawke socialist Government-by deliberate economic policy-is forcing the families of Australia to pay the highest interest rates since the Great Depression on homes, washing machines, stoves, refrigerators and the like. Interest payments have rocketed from $545 a month on a worker's home to a massive $660 a month. That is the Hawke increase of $28 a week which, when added to the $37 a week in extra Hawke socialist Government taxes, means that an average Australian family, on tax and interest rates alone, is now $65 a week worse off as the direct result of the deliberate policies of the Hawke socialist Government. It is almost as though the Hawke socialist Government has actually declared war on the families of Australia.

The cost of basic private health insurance has gone up by 50 per cent a week to a massive $14.30 and that is for the worst health system in the world. State government taxes and charges have been forced up by the deliberate policies of the Hawke socialist Government and these have added a further $15 a week to the cost of living of the average Australian family.

The most excellent analysis-and I join with the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Howard) in this respect-of the discrimination against the families of Australia is to be found in the submission of the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association forwarded to all members of this Parliament just a few weeks ago. It should be remembered that the SDA is represented on the Federal Executive of the Australian Council of Trade Unions by its Federal President, Jim Maher, and also that last year the SDA reaffiliated with the Australian Labor party in Victoria. Its members are front line troops dealing with the cost of living of all Australian families. The SDA points out that from 1976 to 1985 the real value of family allowances declined by a massive 29.2 per cent and Australian mothers have been robbed a total of $10 billion.

The spouse rebate has been eroded by inflation and the solemn election promise in 1983 of the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) for a substantial increase in the spouse rebate has been shamelessly dishonoured. The cost of raising children has risen so rapidly that, as a direct result of the policies of the Hawke socialist Government, the decision to have children has become a decision to reduce the family's standard of living. Between 1976 and 1985, average weekly earnings for an average Australian worker rose by 135 per cent while the income tax payable on such earnings rose by 435 per cent. Nearly 300 per cent of that massive increase in taxation robbery has occurred under the Hawke socialist Government, whose leader promised lower taxes for 98 per cent of all Australians. Echoing my own words earlier in this speech, the SDA says:

The last four years has seen the most sustained reduction in living standards since the Depression of the 1930s and . . . there is no relief in sight.

I remind this House and the people of Australia that the Hawke socialist Government has been in office for the past four years. The view I have just quoted is the considered view of a major Australian trade union which comprises 180,000 members and speaks for over half a million Australians. Why does the Hawke socialist Government refuse to listen to what this union says? I agree with the SDA. The spouse rebate would need to be increased to $1,851 per annum to restore its real value and it should be converted into a cash payment and given directly to the non-income earning spouse. The family income supplement, as the SDA points out, which helps the lowest income families with dependent children, should also be increased in amount and extended in scope.

Most ordinary Australian males do not understand what inflation means, but the wives and mothers, the housewives of Australia, do know and no amount of sweet talking and sophistry by the Prime Minister and the Treasurer will destroy the belief of the housewives of Australia that the cost of living under this economically incompetent Government has gone through the roof.

Dr Harry Edwards —Every day.

Mr HODGMAN —As usual the honourable member is quite right. I will give some consumer price index figures from the Prime Minister's own electorate of Wills in Melbourne. In March 1983 when the Prime Minister took office the food index was 119.1. By March 1987 it had rocketed to 160.2-a massive increase of 34.5 per cent. So a trolley of groceries at the local supermarket in the Prime Minister's electorate of Wills which cost $80 in March 1983 would now, thanks to him and his Government's policies, cost over $108.

Mr Hunt —Good gracious!

Mr HODGMAN —That is an extra $28 that the honourable member can add to his bill and Mrs Hunt's bill to send to the Hawke socialist Government each week on top of the extra $65 a week we are paying for its outrageous taxes and record high interest rates.

I have mentioned before the vice of automatically indexed excise on petrol, liquor and cigarettes-all imposed by the Hawke socialist Government. Suffice it to say that people might be able to pay cash for their cars, but they will have to get their petrol on hire purchase, and heaven help the poor old battling pensioner who would like just one bottle of beer and two packets of cigarettes a week. The workers' Prime Minister, as he calls himself, has robbed the workers of Australia of their traditional right to a beer and a smoke. The pensioners of Australia have been ripped off to the tune of $160m by the deferral of their December 1986 and May 1987 pension consumer price index increases. Ex-service men and women have been shamelessly betrayed. The totally and permanently incapacitated pension has been all but abolished for those people over 65 years of age and 16,000 ex-service men and women and their families have had their pensions cancelled or reduced under the iniquitous Hawke socialist Government assets test.

The Hawke socialist Government has lost touch with ordinary men and women. Those opposite, with their Pritikin diets and up-market, trendy, nouveau riche style, have lost touch with Mr and Mrs Smith in Bankstown and Mr and Mrs Jones in Chigwell. Their betrayal of ordinary decent Australians is to be condemned because it was deliberate. It is part of the socialist ethos to bring economic forces to bear for the purpose of implementing socialist policy and hitting the poor. Even the recently appointed Minister for Weeties has become so clogged up and ineffective that he should be switched immediately to All Bran. The fact is that the Hawke socialist Government has betrayed families. It has made it an economic crime to have children and has turned its back on those who put it into office. The revenge and rage of Australian families whom the Government has treated so iniquitously will be strong and their retribution will be swift, as those opposite will find out at the next Federal election.