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Wednesday, 25 June 2003
Page: 17489

Mr NAIRN (2:31 PM) —My question is to the Treasurer. Would the Treasurer inform the House of the government's approach to economic management? Is the Treasurer aware of any alternative approaches to economic management?

Mr COSTELLO (Treasurer) —I thank the honourable member for Eden-Monaro for his question. I can inform the House that in six days time, on 1 July, thanks to the policies of this government, every Australian income tax payer will receive an income tax cut. This is consistent with the coalition's approach to economic management, which is that, after funding responsible social services, our troops in the field and assistance to those who are suffering from the drought, taxes ought to be kept as low as possible.

What alternatives have we seen in Australia? In Victoria we saw the Bracks government lift 300 taxes and charges, increase motor vehicle registration fees by 12 per cent and try to tax every user of the Scoresby Freeway. In Western Australia we saw stamp duty increases on insurance policies. In Queensland we saw an $88 tax increase on every electricity bill. In South Australia we saw the Labor Party put a $30 levy on every water bill. And yesterday, in a clean sweep of the Labor governments—eight out of eight in Australia—the New South Wales government increased fees, taxes and charges in very significant areas.

Let me tell the House what those areas were. There were gambling tax hikes for clubs and hotels to raise $46 million; a new parking space levy, an increase of $40 a year for city business districts; and TAFE fee increases. TAFE graduate diploma course fees will increase in New South Wales—get a load of this—from $700 to $1,650 per year. That is a 230 per cent increase. Let us get this straight. Apparently the Labor Party is against a possible 30 per cent increase in university fees because it is in favour of a 230 per cent increase in TAFE fees. What about the interest-free loan? Is there a HECS scheme for TAFE students?

A government member—No.

Mr COSTELLO —So what is the Labor Party's message to the students of the western suburbs of Sydney? If you go into a TAFE course, the Labor Party wants to increase your fee by 230 per cent with no HECS scheme, no interest-free loan and no ability to get in. That shows the contempt the Australian Labor Party has for the kids of the western suburbs of Sydney. Have we heard a peep from the Leader of the Opposition about any of these taxes? Have we heard a peep from the Leader of the Opposition about tolls on the Scoresby Freeway? If you ever go out to Hotham, you will realise that that freeway is pretty near the electorate of Hotham.

The SPEAKER —The Treasurer will address his remarks through the chair.

Mr COSTELLO —Let us come to the grand-daddy of them all—the New South Wales Labor Party policy in relation to stamp duty. In 2001-02 they had a windfall of $430 million and in 2002-03 they got $830 million—a $1.2 billion windfall in stamp duty. If you take the Sydney median house price index, when the Carr government first came to office in 1995 the tax was $5,420. In 2003 on that same house—the house has not changed—the tax is $16,190. That is an increase of $11,000.

So what is the Labor Party's message to the battlers of Western Sydney? An $11,000 increase in the tax on your house, a parking levy, an increase in gaming taxes in your clubs and pubs and, if you want to get your kids into a TAFE course, a 230 per cent increase with no HECS scheme, no loan and no interest-free facility. The Leader of the Opposition has had every opportunity to condemn one state Labor government for its tax rises. If you want to see what Labor would do in office, look at what they are doing; do not listen to what they say. The Labor socialist alternative today is, as it always has been, higher taxes, slugging the people on median incomes, slugging the people of Western Sydney and making them much worse off.