Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard   

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Tuesday, 23 October 1984
Page: 2200

Senator CHANEY —My question is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate and follows that asked by Senator Zakharov. I ask whether the Hawke Government indexed excise duty so that it is increased twice a year without reference to this Parliament. I further ask the Leader of the Government whether he will give a firm undertaking that should the Hawke Government be re-elected it will not increase indirect tax or broaden the application of indirect tax in Australia.

Senator BUTTON —So far as the first aspect of the question is concerned, yes, the Government did provide for indexation of excise duty. I contrast that with the behaviour of the previous Government which whacked on excises in various Budgets , took them off in the next Budget, and put them on again in the one after-a totally incoherent manner of behaviour in respect of excise duties. I also remind the Opposition that when we are talking about inflation the Opposition and the people of Australia should remember that when it went out of office the inflation rate in this country was nearly twice what it is today. We have nearly halved the inflation rate in 18 months in government.

Senator Chaney —Mr President, I raise a point of order. I suggest that the Leader of the Government is getting a little more pregnant than he should be. No part of the question was directed to the level of inflation. I asked him a clear and simple question about whether we could have an undertaking that should the Hawke Government be re-elected there would be no increase in indirect taxes or a broadening of the tax base.

The PRESIDENT —Order! That is not a point of order. The Leader of the Opposition knows that I cannot direct the Minister to answer questions in the way in which he might like them answered.

Senator BUTTON —Senator Chaney perhaps does not remember, but his question was in two parts. I was dealing with the first part, which was asked in the context of the effects of indexation of excise on inflation.

Senator Chaney —I did not maintain that.

Senator BUTTON —Yes, you did. With respect to the second part of the question, as to whether the Government will give a firm undertaking that in the next period of government there will be no increase in indirect taxes under a Hawke government, let me say this: We have said on a number of occasions in the Senate that we will have a comprehensive review of the Australian taxation system. It is inconceivable to me, if only because the Opposition is so concerned to impose indirect taxes on the Australian people, that that subject would not be addressed in the context of a comprehensive review of the Australian taxation system. One thing I can say is that in the course of that review this Government will be very concerned about the inflationary impact of anything it does, as it has been in the last 18 months. It will be very concerned to see that there is no introduction of indirect taxes which would be regressive in respect of low income earners.