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Wednesday, 19 November 1986
Page: 2535

Senator MICHAEL BAUME(9.06) —I cannot let rest the last comments Senator Walsh made about the cost of the misleading advertising campaign that the Government is undertaking on the fringe benefits tax. I suggest to Senator Grimes that I certainly have not been priming any parish pump. I have been pumping this Government for a bit of information that we are entitled to have. This matter is intriguing because when Senator Walsh was asked how much this advertising campaign was going to cost-that is the fringe benefits tax advertising campaign which will involve a massive television promotion next month-he said: `I don't know the answer'. What a hot-shot Minister for Finance he is! One would assume that as Minister for Finance he would be intimately involved in this whole question of fringe benefits tax. One would think he would be closely associated with it and would take a great interest in what the cost of the advertising will be. After all, he seems to take a great interest in the cost of everything else around the place. Yet he says: `I don't know the answer'. Quite frankly, I do not believe that Senator Walsh does not know the answer. I do not believe that he does not have the capacity to provide the answer readily, here and now, except that, of course, he has been sent or has gone from the chamber.

Senator Grimes —Oh, come on!

Senator MICHAEL BAUME —He could have answered the question while he was in the chamber. In addition, it was quite improperly held that the question on fringe benefits tax advertising could have been asked during the sittings of the Estimates Committee D. It could not have been asked during the sittings of the Estimates Committee because this disgraceful advertising campaign had not in fact started when the Estimates Committee met. We found out about the additional television advertising campaign only by reading about it last week in the Australian Financial Review. So enough of the nonsense. I do not know what the Government has to hide. It clearly is embarrassed about the fact that it has been revealed that it is going to be spending $5m, according to the report in the Australian Financial Review, or something like 10 per cent of its total advertising campaign for this year on misleading advertisements on the fringe benefits tax. All we are asking for are the facts, and the Government, for some reason, wants to hide them.