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Wednesday, 24 October 1984
Page: 2326

Senator Dame MARGARET GUILFOYLE — My question is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I refer to the inclusion in the 1974 Whitlam Government's Budget of a capital gains tax. I ask the Minister: Does he recall the scope of the tax and some of the exemptions that were announced by the then Treasurer, Mr Crean? Is the Whitlam capital gains tax model the one favoured by the Hawke Government? For example, does the Minister believe that the tax should extend, as the Whitlam Government's capital gains tax was proposed to do, to foreign exchange gains, gains from the purchase of debentures, compulsory acquisitions, gifts, and transfers on death, and that half of the capital gains realised during a year should be included in assessable income and taxed at income tax rates, that is, the personal tax rate or the company tax rate as applicable.

Senator BUTTON —I hope I can be forgiven, but I do not recall the details of the tax proposal which was apparently around in 1974. I have no recollection of that . I have recollection of the intervening period, however, when the Fraser Government floated a variety of suggestions about tax reform in an ad hoc sort of way and then backed away from it. I remember the late Sir Phillip Lynch floating a suggestion about the social security system and suggesting that the over-70 pension should be means tested. I remember, too, the anguish with which the government of the day quickly went to ground on that issue. I remember Mr John Howard, for example, in 1981 floating a wide ranging proposal for indirect tax and how that disappeared from the political lexicon. I remember all those things happening in the previous period of government. I was again reminded of them when I read the recent tax policy of the Opposition, which proposes a further tinkering with the taxation system of the same kind as that carried out by the previous Government for seven years. The people of Australia want a comprehensive review of the taxation system which will result in greater equity. Senator Dame Margaret Guilfoyle asked whether the model favoured by the Hawke Government for a capital gains tax was the same as that suggested in 1974. As I have said on numerous occasions, there is no model favoured by the Hawke Government in respect of a capital gains tax; there is no proposal for a capital gains tax being considered by this Government. If that matter comes up in the course of a comprehensive review of the taxation system, the Government will make decisions about it at the appropriate time.