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Wednesday, 17 October 1984
Page: 1855

Senator CHANEY —My question is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I refer to the Government's refusal to indicate its policy on a series of important issues before the early and unnecessary election. I ask this question in the hope that the Minister might be prepared to be honest with the Australian people. Will the Government give an assurance that a capital gains tax, a wealth tax or death duties will not be imposed following any review of the taxation system? Will the Government give an assurance that it will not introduce overriding uniform land rights legislation which would include a mining veto on Aboriginal land? Will the Government give an assurance that its secret Bill of Rights will not override State electoral laws? Will the Government tell us whether it will remove interest rate controls on small overdrafts and home loans?

Senator BUTTON —It is very difficult for me to give an undertaking in respect of capital gains taxes, wealth taxes and death duties. I heard the Leader of the Opposition on the radio today promising that a Labor government, if re-elected, would introduce capital gains taxes, wealth taxes and death duties. I heard him on the radio saying that in Adelaide. I remember three weeks ago when the same Leader of the Opposition came into this Parliament and said that he was going to make allegations about criminal associates of the Prime Minister. What did he do when he was confronted with the prospect of delivering? He went to water, and he will go to water in relation to this promise as well. He is the most irresponsible Leader of the Opposition this country has ever seen, in the sorts of comments he makes about these issues. He was making those comments today in Adelaide.

I have answered the question about capital gains taxes, wealth taxes and death duties in this Senate on numerous occasions. I told Senator Chaney as recently as yesterday, if he can remember back that far, that this Government was committed to a review of the taxation system. Any responsible government that tackles a review of the taxation system, which the Opposition parties did not do in seven years of government, has to have questions of capital gains tax, wealth tax and death duties on the agenda. If Senator Chaney wishes to debase the coinage of Australian politics by saying that these issues should not be considered by political parties, if he is saying all of these things in the context of the political promises the Opposition has made in respect of the forthcoming election, then it is a very poor performance indeed from an Opposition.

Let me refer to some of the other questions. Questions relating to Aboriginal land rights have been directed to Senator Ryan today, and she gave an answer. A question was asked relating to the human rights legislation.

Senator Boswell —I take a point of order. Under Standing Orders the Leader of the Government in the Senate has no right to debate every question that has been asked. I ask you, Mr President, to pull him up.

The PRESIDENT —Order! There is no point of order.

Senator BUTTON —In respect of the shopping list of spooky interrogatories that Senator Chaney addressed to me, the Government will address these matters and make appropriate announcements at the appropriate time. These are matters of political debate, and they will be in the forthcoming election campaign. However , I am not going to repeat answers that have been given by other Ministers in this place in the course of today's Question Time.

Senator CHANEY —I ask a supplementary question. I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate quite clearly: Will the Government declare its position on these issues before the election or will it not?

Senator BUTTON —Mr President, I have already answered that question in the last part of the answer I just gave.