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Tuesday, 14 May 1985
Page: 1877

Senator WALTERS —My question is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Following the Prime Minister's extraordinary answer to a question put to him at a Press conference earlier this month as to whether he would ask Mr Keating whether it was appropriate to make available to the people of Australia information from the household expenditure survey on the tax parcel-I add that this is information already made available to the Australian Council of Trade Unions-has the Treasurer given permission to the Prime Minister to make this information available to the people who, after all, will be paying the tax? Has the information been made available to the business community, or has the information been reserved for the ACTU alone?

Senator BUTTON —I will discuss this matter with the Prime Minister and obtain an answer. I am not quite sure precisely what he said in a Press conference some time ago, as Senator Shirley Walters put it.

Senator Walters —Would you like the transcript?

Senator BUTTON —No, I do not want a transcript, thanks. Let me say what I believe has happened. Certainly, there have been discussions with the ACTU about a whole range of taxation matters; that is public knowledge. In respect of any tax measures that might be implemented, I have no doubt that some of the figures used by the Government in those discussions would have been based on the household expenditure survey. I doubt very much that the actual figures of the household expenditure survey at this stage have been made available to anyone. First of all, they would be quite meaningless in the context of the present discussion on tax matters without some explanation of their relevance. Insofar as the household expenditure survey figures are relevant to the question of taxation review, it is the Government's intention-of which I hope Senator Walters is aware-to publish a White Paper, so called, on taxation issues. I am sure that contained within the White Paper there will be references to those figures which will be available to everybody on a basis of equality. However, I can take the answer no further than that. I do not believe anybody can. I suppose the point of Senator Walters's question is to suggest discriminatory and favoured release-I cannot see the question as having any other point-to a particular constituency. There were several points to Senator Walters's question, but that seems to me to be the political point Senator Walters is trying to make. I believe that not to be so. I do not think it would matter much if it was.