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Tuesday, 23 October 1984
Page: 2197

Senator HAMER —I ask a question of the Minister representing the Prime Minister, not about what may be withdrawn but about what may be added. I refer to the Minister's admission that a capital gains tax would be considered if the Australian Labor Party won the election, and the Prime Minister's claim that the family home would be excluded from the tax. I ask the Minister: Will the Government also be considering an annual net wealth tax and death duties, and will the family home be excluded from these?

Senator BUTTON —On a number of occasions in the Senate I have said that the Government favours a comprehensive review of the taxation system. If ever a need for a comprehensive review of the Australian taxation system has emerged, it is now, when irresponsible political figures in the Opposition float the crazy sorts of taxation policies which have been floated in the last 24 hours. When a comprehensive review of the taxation system takes place, all aspects of taxation will be considered because that review will be directed towards providing greater equity in the Australian taxation system. Australian taxpayers, particularly pay as you earn taxpayers, know that they have been very severely treated by governments over the last few years, and it has got progressively worse. In any review of the taxation system the question of equity and fairness will be the prime concern of the Government. If the Opposition is of the view that certain aspects of the taxation system should not even be thought about, without in any way presuming to say what would arise from that inquiry, in the view of this Government that is a wrong view.

Senator HAMER —I ask a supplementary question, Mr President. Do I understand the Minister's answer to my question to be yes?

Senator BUTTON —I have said I think on 20 occasions in the Senate that, if we have a comprehensive review of the Australian taxation system, a wide range of issues will have to be considered, and the agenda will not be composed solely by the Government because the consultative mechanisms that this Government has used and which the Opposition has never understood have reflected a wide range of community views in any discussions on these matters. For example, yesterday at a Liberal Party meeting Mr Hugh Morgan said that in his view capital gains taxes should be on the agenda for any wide-ranging review of the taxation system. This Government cannot ignore in any comprehensive review consideration of those matters, and it will not ignore them.

Senator Chaney —Try them on a resource rent tax.

Senator BUTTON —Senator Chaney says to try them on a resource rent tax. We will, in the context of any comprehensive review of the taxation system. I would not get particularly excited about any of these things. If we look at what has been said about the taxation system in this country by the most distinguished commentators over a number of years, including reports commissioned by Liberal Party governments, we find that there is a continued call for a full review of the taxation system. That is what we are going to do.

Senator Dame Margaret Guilfoyle —Will you accept all the recommendations?

Senator BUTTON —I do not know what the recommendations will be. I will not preclude any acceptance or otherwise of those things.