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Wednesday, 27 May 1987
Page: 3431


Mr HOWARD (Leader of the Opposition) —The Liberal and National parties both welcome with relish the opportunity to test the policies and failures of the Hawke Government. The announcement that we have just heard from the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) has nothing to do with national reconstruction, it has nothing to do with Senate obstruction, and it has nothing to do with the long term interests of this country. It has everything to do with the supreme political cynicism of the current Prime Minister of Australia. This man, who only a bare month ago did not regard the identification card legislation as a sufficient warrant for a double dissolution, now has the temerity to tell the Australian people that it is. The real reason that the mob opposite is rushing to the polls is that it does not have the guts to show the next Labor Budget to the Australian people.

The great irony is that by the time the election is held the Australian public will have seen John Howard's tax policy but not Bob Hawke's next Budget. What is more, they will not see Bob Hawke's next Budget. This has nothing whatever to do with Senate obstruction; it has everything to do with the supreme political cynicism of the current Prime Minister of Australia. Those who sit behind and those who advise him know well that by the end of the year-as the Hawke's Government's own economic statement of only a couple of weeks ago acknowledged-the Australian economy will be weaker than it is now. The Australian public is entitled to ask what the Government is hiding in its next Budget, what hidden taxation measures and new economic failures it is hiding.

Why on earth would a government go to the polls a bare five weeks before the delivery of its Budget? Presumably, both the Treasurer (Mr Keating) and the Prime Minister will tell us that the great issue in this campaign is economic management. Why on earth, therefore, if that is the great issue-and by interjection honourable members opposite endorse the fact that it is-can we not see the great instrument of the Government's economic management before the ballot takes place? Why is it that the Australian public is not to see the colour of the Budget? Why is it that we are to be treated to this deception by the Government on what the Government itself says will be the great economic issue of the time?

As far as the Liberal and National parties are concerned, there are three issues that will dominate this election campaign, and they will ring around the country from now until the election is held on 11 July. The first of those issues is the way in which the Hawke Government has raped the living standards of Australian families over the past four years, the fact that over the past four years there has been a catastrophic fall in the living standards of Australian families. The alibi that it is all the fault of the foreigners is no longer available. The cut in national income over the past couple of years has been less than the reduction in national income suffered in the early 1980s as a result of the international recession and the domestic drought. After four years of government the mob opposite have to take a rap for what has happened to the living standards of ordinary Australians, and everybody on this side of the House will see that it takes the rap. After four years in office the Government cannot blame the foreigners or anybody else. The buck stops with the Government, and it is going to be made to stop with the Government over the next five weeks.

The second issue that we will fight the election campaign on is the issue of trade union power. Everybody knows, after the past couple of weeks, that if this Government, by misadventure, is re-elected, the trade unions in this country will be placed above the law; that a vote for Hawke is a vote to draw a circle around the trade union movement and to give it a privileged position. The people know that a vote for Howard and Sinclair is a vote to treat all Australians equally before the law. That is the second great issue. The third issue that we will fight the campaign on is the taxation issue. If there has been an area where this Government has conspicuously failed, it is the taxation area. The Treasurer has said repeatedly that the task of tax reform in Australia has been completed. I say not only on behalf of those who sit behind me but also on behalf of the Australian people that, if the Treasurer believes that the task of tax reform in Australia has been completed, he has been listening to the hype of his close advisers and he has not been noticing the hurt in areas of Australia such as Bankstown and all the other suburbs that he and his colleagues in the Australian Labor Party once represented very effectively.

The task of tax reform in Australia has not been completed. The task of tax reform is overdue. We will be offering to the Australian public a taxation policy that will benefit Australian families. The Australian public will see our taxation policy, unlike the Hawke Budget. They will not see the Hawke Budget, but they will see our taxation policy. They know that our taxes will offer incentives to Australian families; they know that our taxes will be lower and flatter; they know that our taxes will be funded out of reductions in Government spending; and they know that our taxation policy will include the abolition of the fringe benefits tax and the capital gains tax. Above everything else, our taxation policy will restore equity, fairness, hope and incentive to the overwhelming majority of the Australian public. We welcome the election challenge with enormous relish.