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Monday, 26 June 2000
Page: 18200


Mr MARTIN FERGUSON (2:56 PM) —Mr Speaker, my question without notice is to the Prime Minister. Is it not true that the GST will force up the price of petrol anywhere in regional Australia where your 1c rebate applies if it is retailing at 84c a litre or more?


Mr HOWARD (Prime Minister) —I believe that the effect of not only the announcements that were made on Friday but also the other policies announced by the government will be to give—


Mr Crean —Oh, yeah!


Mr HOWARD —He laughs, `Oh, yeah.' You did not say `Oh, yeah' when you jacked up petrol by 6c a litre in 1993. You did not say `Oh, yeah' then. Oh, yeah, I remember that very well—and so do the Australian people. Oh, yeah, they do. They also remember that you went to that election and you not only promised that you would cut income tax but you also promised that there would be no increases in indirect taxation. Oh, yeah, we all remember that. We all remember it very well. What happened? Was there any compensation for the pensioner? Was there any compensation for the bloke in the bush in 1993? Was there any compensation? Of course there was not. You are frauds when it comes to taxation policy. You are the greatest frauds that this country has ever seen. You have over here a group of men and women who are trying to do something decent for the tax system of Australia.


Mr Beazley —Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order on relevance. A very specific question was asked.

Government members interjecting


Mr SPEAKER —The Leader of the Opposition I will obviously recognise but I believe he is entitled to the courtesy of being heard without the interjections that were interrupting him.


Mr Beazley —It was a very simple question: won't the GST force up the price of petrol anywhere in regional Australia where the 1c rebate applies if it is retailing at 84c a litre or more? It was a simple question and it requires a simple answer.


Mr SPEAKER —I had noted the question and I concede that the Prime Minister was, at a point in his answer, not being relevant to the question. He then came back to the matter of regional Australia, and that is why I allowed him to continue.


Mr HOWARD —I would merely add that if the people, the producers, the exporters and the hardworking men and women of regional Australia want a decent deal on fuel prices, they will continue to support, as I know they do, the taxation reform policies of the government.



Mr HOWARD —Mr Speaker, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition can energise himself with all the laughter he wants as we are in the last week of the countdown towards the introduction of the new taxation system. I would say to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that all the laughter, all the point scoring, all the thrust and counter-thrust and all the argument and counter-argument over the next few days is going to be put to one side by the Australian people when they make a judgment. You hope and pray that it will not, but can I tell you it will. The Australian people are intelligent enough to make a judgment. They will make a judgment about you. They will remember the way in which you misled the Australian public.


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


Mr HOWARD —The people of regional Australia know that under our policies—


Mr Martin Ferguson —I rise on a point of order as to relevance, Mr Speaker, to which you correctly sought to draw the Prime Minister's attention. The question I asked was very simple: where the 1c rebate applies, if it is retailing at 84c a litre or more—


Mr SPEAKER —The member for Batman has raised a point of order on relevance and I will rule—


Mr Martin Ferguson —I simply ask that the Prime Minister respects your request that he be relevant to the question.


Mr SPEAKER —The member for Batman will resume his seat.


Mr HOWARD —He asked me about the price of petrol in the bush, didn't he?


Mr Beazley —No.


Mr HOWARD —Oh, no, he didn't ask me about the price of petrol in the bush. That being the case, Mr Speaker, I have finished my answer.