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Thursday, 25 March 1999
Page: 4424


Mr O'KEEFE —My question is to the Deputy Prime Minister and relates to the Prime Minister's claim that the only losers from a GST will be tax cheats. I ask the Deputy Prime Minister: have you seen claims by the Winemakers Federation—backed up by wine growers in my own electorate—that, under the government's new proposed wine tax, wine prices will rise by double the rate claimed by the government and that up to 500 jobs will be lost in the wine industry? Deputy Prime Minister, how can you claim that no-one will be losers from your tax package?


Mr TIM FISCHER —I am delighted to get a question, having put in an hour's extra preparation today for this, the 204th question time since the government changed; and you guys have learned nothing in terms of tactics over that period of time.


Mr SPEAKER —The Deputy Prime Minister will come to the question.


Mr TIM FISCHER —In fact, there have been 2,040 questions. The criticism is a bit curious considering that the Winemakers Federation of Australia's own opinion is that all sectors of the industry—the very important wine export industry—will be better off.


Mr Crean —What about jobs?


Mr SPEAKER —The Deputy Leader of the Opposition!


Mr TIM FISCHER —The wine industry commissioned their own modelling of the tax package from the Centre of International Economic Studies at the University of South Australia, and from ACIL Consulting. Mr Brian Croser, President of the Winemakers Federation, told a select committee hearing in Adelaide that the results of the modelling showed that under our tax package—the coalition's better tax system tax reform package—everyone wins in relation to the wine industry. I quote:

Under an ad valorem system, which is a continuation of the current system, the non-premium wine sector benefits more than the premium wine sector, but both sectors benefit under a GST plus, in effect, wine equalisation tax arrangements.

We are about helping export industry. We are about helping to give them a competitive basis, which we will do under our system, so that they can push forward with their export effort to the world. We are about modern industry truly putting in place competitive taxation arrangements which will ensure extra jobs, not fewer jobs, and more pay for the workers with those extra jobs compared to your treatment of workers' pay during the years that you were in government.

I salute the great Australian wine industry. I salute the fact that last year they increased their exports to Japan by 135 per cent. I salute the fact that their exports are now valued at over $900 million. The additional steps which we will take with tax reform will ensure a very bright future for the great Australian wine industry.