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Monday, 17 August 2009
Page: 7967


Mr TRUSS (2:30 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer the Prime Minister to media reports that the Henry tax review intends to recommend an increase in fuel excise of at least 10c per litre. Will the Prime Minister rule out any increase in fuel excise?


Mr RUDD (Prime Minister) —Can I say that there are two constant thematics to the opposition’s contribution to Australian public policy. One is fear and the second is smear, and beyond that they have nothing to contribute to the deliberations of the parliament. The honourable gentleman asked me about tax reform and the future of it, and I will come back to his question in a moment. I just draw his attention to what the then shadow Treasurer had to say about opposition tax policy—this is dated 7 April 2008, almost back in the Palaeolithic period. Dinosaurs have a particular attraction to that period and we have seen a few dinosaurs out on climate change recently.


Mr Pyne —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order in relation to relevance. The Leader of the Nationals asked a very simple and straightforward question about whether the Prime Minister would rule out an increase in fuel excise. We simply ask for a yes or no answer.


The SPEAKER —As I have indicated to the member for O’Connor, the Speaker is not in a position to dictate the way in which the question is answered. The Prime Minister is responding to the question.


Mr RUDD —The then shadow Treasurer, now the Leader of the Opposition, said in April last year:

I have asked distinguished economist Henry Ergas to conduct an examination of the many taxes in Australia at various levels …

I presume that might have incorporated various fuel taxes as well. Who would know?

… and to report to the Opposition on options for reforming the tax system.

Then he went on to say:

In undertaking this study, Professor Ergas will consult widely, and host a Conference to advance our understanding of the strengths, weaknesses and opportunities for reform of the tax system.

I don’t see any particular exceptions from that Ergas review, other than this: it has simply disappeared without trace.

Can I say to those opposite that, if they seriously engage in the business of tax reform, it is a bit like your engagement on climate change reform and it is a bit like your engagement on industrial relations reform. Put your policies on the table. We do not happen to see that, whether it comes to fiscal strategy or whether it comes to productivity reform. These matters, in terms of the totality of the tax system, will be considered by Henry.


Mr Truss —Mr Speaker—


The SPEAKER —Order! The Prime Minister has concluded.


Mr Truss interjecting


The SPEAKER —Order! The Leader of the National Party does not have the call.