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Wednesday, 3 December 1986
Page: 3256

Senator WALTERS —My question is to the Minister representing the Treasurer. I refer the Minister to an answer given by the Treasurer in the House of Representatives on 23 September last when, in respect of his travel allowance entitlements, Mr Keating said.

I am only here to do this job. If I were not, my family and I would be living as many days out of seven as possible in Sydney.

A little later he said:

Is he saying that I should use my salary of office as Treasurer to pay my rent to enable me to do the job? Of course that is nonsense.

I ask: What is the difference between the Treasurer and a farm manager or farm worker who has to live on a property but maintained a home elsewhere and who would, were it not for the job, spend as many days out of seven as possible at his principal place of residence? Is such a person entitled to the same tax-free travel allowance which, the Minister claims, is available to the Treasurer? Or does the Australian Taxation Office consider that a farm worker should do his job and work for six or seven days a week and spend his salary on housing himself to enable him to do the job?

Senator WALSH —The difference-I would have thought that anybody with an IQ of above 85 might have deduced it by now-is that the TA received by members of parliament is paid in accordance with a determination of the Remuneration Tribunal. I do not know how many times I have to say that. I will try to break it down into monosyllables although I cannot off the top of my head think of a way of doing that, so that people like Senator Walters will be able to understand it. While I am on my feet, I inform the Senate that I have received a note from the Treasurer's office which states unequivocally that travel allowances are not subject to fringe benefits tax. I can only assume that the Opposition has scrambled together the fringe benefits tax and the substantiation rules and misrepresented them in the way it has consistently done. I do not believe that Senator Parer would wilfully misrepresent the truth, so I assume he was set up to do the job by some of the more sleazy Opposition front benchers.