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Friday, 19 October 1984
Page: 2069

Senator Dame MARGARET GUILFOYLE — I direct my question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I refer to the Prime Minister's statement yesterday in which he laid down certain guidelines for the Government's capital gains tax. I ask: Have any guidelines been provided to the Economic Planning Advisory Council on the Government's approach to capital gains taxation and death duties?

Senator BUTTON —First of all, I remind the Senate that they are Senator Dame Margaret Guilfoyle's words, not mine, when she refers to the 'Government's capital gains tax'.

Senator Chaney —That is right. She has greater credibility than you have.

Senator BUTTON —Does the honourable senator think so? Let us see. On a number of occasions I have explained to the Senate that the Government has no plans for the introduction of new taxes. But insofar as the question of taxation has been addressed by the Economic Planning Advisory Council, as I understand it a submission by the Business Council of Australia concerning the taxation structure in Australia, particularly as it bears on business activity, is very critical of the present structure. A number of bodies such as the Australian Council of Social Service have put submissions to EPAC on their views of the taxation structure.

In both of these two submissions to which I have referred and also in the submission put forward to EPAC by the Australian Council of Trade Unions in preliminary deliberations on these matters there have been references to capital taxes. I cannot tell the honourable senator the details of those references. Of course, all those matters would be subsumed in a review of the taxation structure. All those bodies have indicated quite clearly already that they want these matters placed on the agenda for the review of taxation in Australia.

Of course, there are a number of other people who want things put on the agenda of a review of taxation structure. The Opposition's deputy leader, Mr Howard, is one of them. He said quite clearly that he wants certain matters put on the agenda for that review and that inevitably capital taxes would have to be included amongst the items for discussion in a general review of the taxation structure. Those things are matters of common knowledge. When a review is conducted the Government of course will take into account the views of all those bodies. We will not be producing any rabbits out of hats as the Opposition probably will do on Monday without proper consultation with a wide-ranging spectrum of the community. It is in the context that I have outlined that the review will take place.

Senator Dame MARGARET GUILFOYLE — I ask a supplementary question. I ask the Minister, in view of his comments, whether the Government has provided any guidelines to EPAC with regard to capital gains taxation and death duties.

Senator BUTTON —No.