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Wednesday, 31 March 1999
Page: 4830

Mr HARDGRAVE (11:46 AM) —The A New Tax System (Commonwealth-State Financial Arrangements) Bill 1999 is all about providing some certainty and updating the taxation system that this country has endured—and has watched being changed and basically perverted over a long period of time—so that we can go into the next millennium with some certainty about funding for schools, roads, police and all the basic essential services that state governments are required to provide.

I know that in my own state of Queensland, there are a lot of false tears being cried by Premier Beattie. We have seen the sort of approach before that Premier Peter Beattie is offering on this matter from previous incarnations of premiers of all colours. When Premier Beattie is looking at year 4 and saying that Queensland is going to be worse off for the first three years, he is looking at the $460 million-plus that Queensland is going to have up its sleeve in year 4. He is not complaining about that, but he wants it in year 1, year 2 and year 3 as well.

The government's proposals are going to maintain the current level of income and funds available for the Queensland government. It is not going to be $1 less. The Queensland government is crying crocodile tears over this matter for purely political reasons. We have seen it all happen before. In year 4, Queensland is going to be well off—$465 million extra. I know what Premier Peter Beattie is currently doing; he is playing a simple game of politics to try to look tough and to bash Canberra to try to pick up a few votes.

The Labor Party is completely bankrupt morally on this issue. Those opposite who have spoken this morning about where Queensland's position lies and who have entered the debate in recent days—such as the member for Rankin; I heard his contribution before—are morally bankrupt on this issue. They are denying Queenslanders the chance to be a part of a system that is going to be good for this country and good for Queensland. It is very important to know that the stunt that Premier Beattie pulled at the Premiers Conference on 13 November in disagreeing with just one paragraph of the transitional arrangements, was exactly that: a simple stunt.

There is a guarantee that over the next three years Queensland will get no less than they currently get and more for every year after that. In fact, a windfall is what they are going to get as a result of the changes to the taxation arrangements that the Howard government is bringing into place.

Mr Cameron Thompson interjecting

Mr HARDGRAVE —The member for Blair has got it right. There is a great con that is going on, and it is so sad to see normally intelligent and forthright members of the business community in Queensland signing up to a stupid letter that the Queensland government hoodwinked them into signing just the other day in advertising in the press in Queensland.

Nobody in this place should be under any misconceptions about what is really being unveiled by those opposite yet again. It is another attempt to try to deny the people of Australia a fair tax system that is going to bring benefits to other levels of government—local and state—and particularly to my state of Queensland. It is a tax system that is going to bring about certainty so that governments, particularly the Queensland state government, can plan to provide more police on the beat in my electorate of Moreton—and heaven knows we need them. We certainly also want to see proper funding for schools in my electorate and, I am sure, also in your electorate, Madam Deputy Speaker Kelly.

Mr Cameron Thompson —Hear, hear!

Mr HARDGRAVE —The member for Blair and all Queensland coalition members are standing up strongly for Queensland on these sorts of issues. But what is absolutely outrageous is to think that the Premier of Queensland is quite happy to have this tax system in place because, at the end of the day, that is the central premise of his argument.

Mr Cameron Thompson —He wants it.

Mr HARDGRAVE —The member for Blair is right—the Premier wants it. He wants this taxation system. All he is simply trying to do is to create some cheap political point scoring in the first three years of its operation knowing full well that in the fourth year Queensland is going to pick up a windfall. It is a sham; it is a joke, and it is very sad to think that the Premier of Queensland would spend thousands of Queensland taxpayers' dollars to run an ad to try to criticise this government's attempts to provide more dollars to Queensland.

It is an outrage that the people of Queensland are not being dealt with fairly by the Premier. It is an outrage that individual families in the wonderful state of Queensland are going to be denied some of the means that are contained within the government's taxation reform agenda that will end poverty traps and provide greater certainty to lower income earners and to social security beneficiaries. The matters before the House are important. Those opposite continue to be morally bankrupt on the issue of taxation reform—cheap political points instead of a decent tax system. (Time expired)

Question put:

That the amendments (Mr Cox's ) be agreed to.

The House divided. [11.55 a.m.]

(Madam Deputy Speaker—Mrs D.M. Kelly)

Ayes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63

Noes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74


Majority . . . . . . . . . . . . 9


Question so resolved in the negative.

Bill agreed to.