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Wednesday, 5 September 1984
Page: 479

Senator CHILDS —I refer the Minister representing the Treasurer to the tax reductions in the Budget and to criticisms made of those tax cuts by the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Peacock, who said:

The Liberal tax policy is very different . . .

Has the Minister been able to compare this Budget's tax cut with any tax policy of the Liberal Party of Australia? Can he confirm Mr Peacock's claims?

Senator WALSH —Senator Childs asked me whether I could compare the Budget tax cuts with the Liberal Party tax policy. The answer is no; I cannot compare it because there is no policy. If indeed a Liberal tax policy ever appears, it will be difficult to tell whether it is Mr Peacock's policy or Mr Howard's policy, since Mr Peacock's policy, for example, is to abolish the tax on wine and Mr Howard's policy is to continue it, or whether it will be the policy of the National Party, formerly the Country Party, according to its spokesman in the House of Representatives who says that it will have a special and better policy on primary industry than the Liberal Party, just as it will have a special and, in its view, better policy on immigration. Even if an Opposition policy on taxation should ever appear it will be extremely difficult to tell whether it ought to be taken seriously depending upon the source from which it comes, whether it comes from the Leader of the Opposition, from the former discredited Treasurer, or from the National Party.

The assertions which are being made by various members of the Opposition, as distinct from any tax policy that they may have, about this present Government and this present Budget imposing the highest level of tax on pay-as-you-earn taxpayers and all that sort of thing than has ever been imposed are quite false. If one looks at 1981-82, the second last year of the discredited former Government, one sees that net PAYE receipts as a percentage of gross domestic product were 11.7 per cent. In 1982-83, the last year of the discredited former Government, net PAYE tax receipts were 11 1/2 per cent of GDP and the estimate for 1984-85 is 10.8 per cent, which is significantly lower than in either of the last two years of the discredited former Government.

We do get some other hints about the possible taxation policies which could be pursued by a coalition government, should there ever be another one. For example , Mr Howard has said that there will be a consumption tax under a coalition government. I would be grateful for information from Mr Howard or anyone else nominating the items upon which a consumption tax would be imposed since the only addition to a consumption tax which this Government has applied is the sales tax on wine. Although Mr Howard says he will keep it his Leader, Mr Peacock, says a Liberal government would abolish it. So I would welcome clarification on that point. I would also welcome clarification from any member of the Opposition as to how the Opposition, if it were in government, would simultaneously reduce taxation, increase expenditure and reduce the deficit, as the Leader of the Opposition claims it would do.