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Wednesday, 9 December 1998
Page: 1748

Mr CAUSLEY (4:19 PM) —I realise that time has been curtailed in this debate and I will not be too long, but I want to make two or three more important points. It seems to me that in the debate that has ensued one of the great points that has been missed almost completely by the opposition—I have not heard anyone mention it—relates to the taxes that are going to be removed from industry, and particularly rural industry. The opposition do not seem to understand that one of the decisions they took some years ago to enter into competition policy means that Australian businesses, whether they be manufacturing businesses or rural businesses, have one hand tied behind their back. They are being told that they must compete on the world market, yet embedded in all their costs are wholesale taxes, and particularly fuel taxes. The minister at the table would know full well about that, because he has raised it on many occasions in this House.

One of the big things about this tax package, if you can get your mind past the GST, is the fact that these other benefits accrue. It makes it a lot easier for business and for exporters to compete on the world market. It is a point that I think the opposition could well look very closely at.

In the fuel area, one of the big areas is mining. I am amazed that the members for Hunter, Capricornia and Paterson could sit on the opposite side and oppose a reduction in the cost of fuel to the mining industry, which is one of the great industries in this country. In fact, if you look closely at exports, mining probably brings in about 50 per cent of our export income and agriculture accounts for about 28 per cent of our export income, so mining is the major area of income for the country. Yet those members who represent big mining interests are prepared to vote to ensure that their industries are going to be crippled by continuing taxes. It is something that they should think very carefully about.

Finally, I want to put to rest some of the myths that have been floated around here this morning. I heard the member for Batman and the member for Watson talking about America not having a GST. I must have visited a country that was quite strange when I was over there a few years ago, because it was very clear, on the bills I received from the hotels I stayed at, that there was a GST. It was a state GST or VAT or whatever tax it might be called, but it was there. So, while there might not be a national tax, there certainly is a state tax. It is the same in Canada. I think we need to put that myth to bed if they are going to peddle that around this parliament. I thank the House for its indulgence.