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Wednesday, 20 March 1985
Page: 510


Senator Dame MARGARET GUILFOYLE(5.02) —It will have been noted during the debate on this motion that Opposition members speak with one voice on the matters before us in seeking a fundamental reform of the tax system. They speak with the authority of the tax policy which they placed before the Australian people at the time of the last election. This is in sharp contrast to the method of changing tax policy that has been adopted by the Hawke Labor Government. If there are difficulties in changing tax policy, I would have to say that what has occurred since the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) stumbled into a tax summit at the time of the last election has shown that this is certainly not the way in which policy ought to be made.

There seems to be no understanding by Mr Hawke and his Government that taxation policy is the essence of government. It is the essence of government responsibility to draw from the people the requirements of government and to have a policy on expenditure which makes these matters compatible. It is not a way of dealing with government responsibility to go to a summit. I can only assume that the Prime Minister is using the summit as a means of binding the various factions of his Party together to enable some sort of legislation to be brought forward. Owing to the time constraints, I am not able to develop these remarks, but it was rather damning that the Prime Minister commented yesterday to his colleagues that it would now be more damaging not to change tax policy than it would be to go forward with some form of tax changes. If that is the Government's tax policy and the way that this Government is governing, I fail to see what can be achieved by the tax summit, unless it is a reconciliation of the various columns of faction opinion on the major items of tax policy before us. It is the Opposition's desire to bring this urgency motion to a vote today. Therefore, I move:

That the question be now put.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Original question put:

That the motion (Senator Peter Rae's) be agreed to.