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Monday, 1 December 1986
Page: 3070

Senator SHEIL(4.53) —I rise to support the motion of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Chaney) to suspend Sessional Orders and to elevate in terms of its position on the list of papers the report of the Commissioner of Taxation. From the last comments of the Minister for Resources and Energy (Senator Gareth Evans), it is obvious that the report of the Commissioner of Taxation has been available for some time and that it was presented to the House of Representatives some time ago. That report, which is buried half way down a sheaf of nearly 50 papers, happens to be the most pertinent report that we need to look at at the moment.

I presume that when this Government stands for re-election it is going to stand on its record. However, its record is a dreadful one. It is a record of record taxation, record interest rates and record spending and waste. It is a record of broken promises, particularly the trilogy promise concerning tax. I did not even bother to remember that undertaking-I knew it would be broken. A whole raft of broken promises has been part of this Government's record. The confiscatory taxes in Australia have been responsible for robbing us of our initiative and incentive to get on in business. In fact, taxes are the biggest consideration for anybody who is starting a business. Businessmen have to consider the tax elements first. In fact, taxes are so high and crippling that they have distorted investment in Australia. I can tell honourable senators now that nearly all of the investment decisions in Australia are taken more for tax purposes than for any economic advantage that can be gained in the business.

The Senate today debated a matter of public importance which drew attention to the way in which taxes are crippling Australia. We have now had presented to us a list of papers which contains the report of the fiscal fiend who garners tax from us and whose own office has been impugned. We have the report from his Taxation Commissioner. The Auditor-General has presented reports on bungling and ineptitude in the Australian Taxation Office. However, the Government is not prepared to debate the Taxation Commissioner's own report.

The illusory, delayed and devalued tax cuts have been brought in today. People will find, with their Medicare levy going up 25 per cent, that the whole thing is a chimera and will disappear from in front of their eyes. Yet, the Government and the Democrats are not prepared to support a motion which would allow the Senate to debate the report of the Taxation Commissioner on this matter. No wonder they are not prepared to do so; it is the Democrats and the Government which have been responsible for bringing in the horrendous taxes that Australia now has. We have the capital gains tax, the assets test and the fringe benefits tax. The whole place is swimming in taxes.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Order! The honourable senator should not get too wide of the motion before the Chair at the moment, which is merely to suspend Sessional Orders. The others are merely being foreshadowed.

Senator SHEIL —Very well, Mr Deputy President. I fully support the motion to suspend the Sessional Orders so that we can take note of the report of the Commissioner of Taxation. It is no wonder that the Government and the Democrats do not want the Senate to take note of this paper when we look at their horrendous record. This Senate should be debating the important issues of the day. The important issue today is the Tax Commissioner's report. His own office is in disarray. Our Treasurer (Mr Keating) has failed to put in his own tax return. There is nothing but bungling and ineptitude everywhere. The Senate has before it a report which should be debated but neither the Government nor the Democrats want this to happen. They want to apply the gag, and this is another broken promise. Just last week they put a gag on the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Bill. Now they do not want to suspend the Standing Orders so that we can debate this report. I support the motion by the Leader of the Opposition.