Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard   

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Tuesday, 9 December 1986
Page: 3618

Senator ELSTOB(5.59) —I rise to support the Australia Card. It is not surprising that the Opposition will not support this tax measure.

Senator Georges —A tax measure?

Senator ELSTOB —It is a measure to recoup money, so it really is a tax measure, Senator Georges. In one sense it is a tax measure. People who deprive the Government of revenue cannot be tolerated in any reasonable society. Let us look at the track record of the members of the Liberal Party of Australia. Why are they opposing this Australia Card measure? Anyone would think that it is a terrible thing, but let us go back to 1983. When the Australian Labor Party came to office, it realised that the money from the bottom of the harbour tax dodgers should be recouped. On 18 May 1983 we introduced a Bill which the Liberal and National parties opposed, as did the Australian Democrats, simply to stop the Labor Government from gaining revenue which should have been paid years ago. Senator Peter Baume laughs at me.

Senator Crichton-Browne —That is not what the legislation was all about.

Senator ELSTOB —I know what the legislation is. I am giving honourable senators the history of the legislation. Opposition senators have already four times let tax cheats get away with it, and this is the fifth time. That shows their track record. Honourable senators opposite do not like it, but that is the reality. The first Bill would have recovered $570m from the bottom of the harbour schemes. The next Bill was introduced on 23 August 1983 to try to recoup $270m. It was reduced to cover all of the arguments which had been put, but the Democrats and Senator Harradine opposed it, so we reduced it so as not to make it so harsh. The Opposition opposed that and stopped the Government from recovering that money. That was the second time. On 3 November 1983 we brought in a Bill which reduced the amount which would be recovered to $35m. The money which would have been recovered was taxes which people should have paid but had not paid-millionaires had got away with it. The Opposition rejected that Bill. That was the third time in 1983. On 2 May 1984 we reintroduced the same Bill which had been brought in on 23 August 1983, and that was also knocked out.

The track records of the Liberal Party and the Democrats show that they have opposed any recovery of taxation which the criminal element in this country should have paid. Honourable senators may ask why they should do that; why upstanding Liberal, National Party and Democrat senators should do that. I suppose everyone can put their own interpretation on it. The Democrats probably are opportunists; they want to appease a small majority. As Senator Robert Ray said, the Democrats get 10 per cent but they want an extra 10 per cent. They also want a double dissolution, which is why they are opposing this measure. They desperately want a double dissolution.

Senator Georges —I would have thought the opposite.

Senator ELSTOB —It is very improbable that any of them would be returned without a double dissolution. What is the reason for the Liberal Party continually opposing Bills to recover money from people who are cheating the great majority of taxpayers in this country? They have cheated continually, but not once has the Opposition agreed that this money should be recovered. What is the reason?

Senator Peter Baume —It is because they were retrospective.

Senator ELSTOB —Retrospective, my foot! That is a ridiculous argument, and the honour- able senator knows it. It is because the people who support the Liberal Party have argued against these measures. It is the big money; that is what it is. All of the coalition's legislation over the years has taken from the little people and has released all the criminals. The difficulty for Liberal Party members is that they cannot stand being in opposition. They cannot take it. When they have no resources, they cannot operate.

Senator Knowles —I thought this debate was on the ID card.

Senator ELSTOB —It is on the ID card. This measure will stop the cheating going on in this country. That is its real purpose. It shows how criminal, how negligent, the Liberal Party has been.

Senator Button —I rise on a point of order, Madam Acting Deputy President. I do not want to interrupt the honourable senator but I think he is entitled to be heard in some degree of silence. Senator Puplick was heard in silence.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Giles) —I agree. I was about to suggest that that be the case.

Senator ELSTOB —Senator Puplick and the others like to howl and defend themselves. They do not like the truth. It is about time that this society became a fair and equitable one. As I have said here before, in law Australia is recognised as a fair society. When it comes to taxation Australia is not a fair society and never has been. It has been fair for the very wealthy but has been totally unfair for the poorer section of the community. It is the poorer section of the community-the people who pay as they earn, the wage and salary earners-that has had to foot the bill for everything. So many loopholes have been allowed to continue in order that wealthier people may avoid taxation, no matter whether they are in business or not. But that is also unfair for many business people. The majority of people in this country are honest and decent. If one manager is running a business illegally and is not paying tax, that may force another person out of business; so the system is unfair in business circles. Many small business people are forced out of business because of the unfair practices of their competitors. It goes right through society.

The Australia Card will bring about a more reasonable society. No law is capable of stopping all these practices and bringing about equality, but the Australia Card most certainly will stop many things. As has been raised, how many illegal immigrants are coming into this country and are in this country at this moment? The estimate is 50,000 to 60,000. I would say that the majority of those immigrants are working and operating illegally. They are probably engaged in illegal activities. One would have to show an Australia Card in order to get a job. It would have to be shown to an employer just once, and that would be the case every time one changed employment. That would tend to stop illegal immigrants coming into this country. I, and I presume every other Australian, at least want to have a reasonable check on who comes in. We do not want all the worst from other societies coming in.

Senator Crichton-Browne —The problem is not the coming in, Senator Elstob, it is the going out again.

Senator ELSTOB —The thing is that it will stop illegal immigration. If the card leads to these people not being able to get jobs or social welfare, it will have some benefit. It may stop people thinking of coming here illegally. At present they come in on a visitors visa and overstay, as the honourable senator well knows.

The real benefit of the Australia Card is that it will stop the majority of criminals in this country putting money into accounts and moving it from one account to another, using all sorts of names-such as Joe Blow or James Bond. Eventually they have to launder the money to get it back into circulation, and they do that. But they must have those illegal accounts. The Australia Card would help to overcome that. It is about time that we started to consider the damaging effect that drug pushers are having on our children. They make billions of dollars and all of this money is placed into accounts in fictitious names throughout the country. The Liberal Party says that we should not worry about that, that is okay and it would be unfair to act against it. At least 90 per cent of Australians are honest, decent citizens and if they have a credit card or a bank account or are on the electoral roll, most things are known about them. Any honest person really does not care about that. It is only the dishonest people who do not pay taxes and who are running all the rackets and making it very difficult for the great majority of the population who oppose it.

Why does the Liberal Party oppose it? Is it because of the people who fund it? Is it because this measure may embarrass some of it own supporters? That may be the case. I do not know, and nobody else does but there is that suspicion. Do not members of the Liberal Party think that the honest, decent people need a fair go? One of the traditions of this country is to give people a fair go, but the Liberal Party has never done that and has never supported this Government's efforts to recover lost taxation. This has allowed the criminal element to get away with everything.

Senator Puplick —If the crims kept their money to themselves the New South Wales Labor Party would be broke tomorrow.

Senator ELSTOB —The Liberal Party has not once in the past supported the recovery of money that should have been paid by criminals into the Treasury. Such people are no different from those we are trying to catch. The Liberal Party has not supported us; it has supported criminal activity. That is the only way we can put it. That is how we must analyse the position. There is not one piece of evidence to show that the Liberal Party has supported the recovery of taxation, and decent people have had to pay up. It has done everything illegally--

Senator Peter Baume —Madam Acting Deputy President, that is really going too far. We have been pretty tolerant but Senator Elstob says that we have done everything illegally. He should withdraw that.

Senator Elstob —On the point of order, Madam Acting Deputy President: I did not name one person. I referred to the Liberal Party, so I ask you to rule in my favour.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT —There is no point of order. I ask you though, Senator Elstob, to stick to the Bill and address your remarks through the Chair and avoid being distracted by interjections.

Senator ELSTOB —Thank you, Madam Acting Deputy President. The Liberal Party has not played the game in any respect in relation to the recovery of taxation. (Quorum formed) Before the quorum was called Senator Peter Baume said that the only support is from the mad Right and the mad Left.

Senator Peter Baume —I said no such thing.

Senator ELSTOB —That is the reality. He referred to the people on the Left and the people on the Right. The mad people on the Right fringe are to me nothing more than fascists. The far Right in the Liberal Party of Australia are nothing more than fascists. They are the people who are directing the Liberal Party at the moment.

Senator Vanstone —Name them.

Senator ELSTOB —I will not name people.

Senator Vanstone —What about your own party?

Senator ELSTOB —We have some of the mad Left, which I acknowledge. They do not control us like the mad Right controls the Opposition. That is the difference. It may surprise many people that the Right and the mad Left get together, but this is what happens. I have seen it in industry and all over the place. They go right around and meet each other, but for very evil purposes. The people who support the Communist Party of Australia want to see any democratic society crushed economically. That is their real purpose. I say that quite openly. I have seen it in the trade union movement and in every field. But the people on the far Right are worse than the communists, and I have had dealings with them. The people who are in Senator Messner's Party-Senator Messner was laughing and smirking and the rest-are worse. If we look at the history of this world-Senator Peter Baume should understand this more than anyone--

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Giles) —Order! Senator Elstob, could I please bring you back to the Bill?

Senator ELSTOB —Yes, thank you very much, Madam Acting Deputy President. The Australia Card Bill will not pass. Everyone in the Senate knows that it will not pass, because of the reasons of the mad Right and the mad Left. But the honest people of this country, the people out there who have been footing the bills, paying the taxes, unfairly are the people who have been ripped off for years. Honourable senators opposite, with their track record over many, many years, not only in not supporting the Australia Card, but also in not supporting the bottom of the harbour tax legislation which should have recovered--

Senator Knowles —What about the ID card?

Senator ELSTOB —This is marvellous. The ID card will be used basically for three things. What a great and terrible trauma it is. What a terrible thing it is to take away from people all those rights. People's rights have been taken right, left and centre by honourable senators opposite through their not supporting a reasonable, decent taxation system. That is what the Australia Card is about: Bringing about fairness and equity. Honourable senators opposite do not even understand. Senator Haines, who is trying to interject, cannot control the Australian Democrats now. She wants a double dissolution; that is what she wants. She has political reasons. She will not have too many more members. They are deserting her and that sort of thing. I have gone through the figures and that is really what Senator Haines is after in respect of the Australia Card and the Liberal Party is protecting its friends once again. That is the real truth of it-it is protecting people who have footed the bill for the Liberal Party. That is why it is not supporting the Australia Card.

Honourable senators opposite have supported these crooks for so long. They have never understood what it is to go out and earn money, to go out and get money for their political party, as we had to. With no money and no resources we beat honourable senators opposite. Honourable senators opposite have never understood that. They are in opposition now and they will stay in opposition because they are all fighting amongst themselves. There is no agreement. They are not acting as an opposition. They are treating the Australian population as mugs and they are not going to take it. They have been paying the bills. Honourable senators opposite have a chance to rectify that situation by supporting the Australia Card and they will not do it. It is the Australian people, the little people of our country, who have been put down over many years and they will not take it any longer. Honourable senators opposite are going to suffer the greatest defeat of their lives for their history of not recovering taxes that other people have to pay. The little people have always had to pay and it is just totally wrong.

Senator Puplick —People who put their tax returns in may pay. What about people who do not even put in their returns?

Senator ELSTOB —It is all right for you, Senator Puplick, with all your education, to criticise. You do not really know what it is about. You do not understand what it is about, and it is about time that you stopped supporting the criminal element of this country. That is what you are doing. You people have done nothing.

Senator Puplick —Madam Acting Deputy President, I raise a point of order. That reference about supporting the criminal elements in this country was clearly made after Senator Elstob used my name, and I ask it to be withdrawn.

Senator ELSTOB —I did not name anyone; I referred to honourable senators as a group. Madam Acting Deputy President, on the point of order: I did not refer to any individual; I was referring to a group. I am well aware of the Standing Orders and I do not breach them deliberately.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Senator Puplick, I believe that no reflection on you was intended. Senator Elstob, I would remind you that if you will insist on addressing the Opposition by name you will tend to get into problems of this sort. I ask you again to please address your remarks through the Chair.

Senator ELSTOB —Madam Acting Deputy President, I will be only too happy to oblige. With the interjections sometimes it is difficult, but I will endeavour to do that. How many times will honourable senators opposite reject money Bills that deny this Government the right to govern? That is what occurs.

Senator Vanstone —Do you want a list of how many times you have done it-eight pages long?

Senator ELSTOB —Senator Vanstone is a new member in this Parliament. She was not here then, so I cannot accuse her. Maybe her colleagues will teach her. Since the Australian Labor Party came to office it has endeavoured to do everything to reduce taxation. The Liberal Party and the National Party of Australia have done everything to stop us from reducing taxation for the Australian people.

Senator Messner —Rubbish.

Senator ELSTOB —Senator Messner says it is rubbish. It is all on the record. It is all there. This is the fifth time that honourable senators opposite have opposed measures to reduce taxation. That is what it comes down to-reducing taxation for the great Australian majority.

Senator Messner —We did not oppose your tax cuts.

Senator ELSTOB —They did it every time. It is all there. I have the dates and everything else. They are in the record. Senator Messner well knows it. This is the fifth time to my knowledge. If any more such measures come up honourable senators opposite will oppose them because, simply, honourable senators opposite must support the people who support them. Unfortunately they are not too savoury. But that is what is really going on. Why else are the Liberal and National parties not supporting these measures? I have to conclude that. As night follows day, the Opposition is totally wrong. I consider Senator Peter Baume to be a fair man. Members of the Liberal Party have said to me: `We would love to support the Australia Card'. They have not come out and said that. Why? They are being stood over because the Liberal Party would lose money. It would lose the support of the people who help it financially. That is what it is all about. The people out there are the losers. One day it will change, and there will be fair representation in this place. Then we will be able to get taxation down to a fair and reasonable level. The way the Senate is now we cannot bring in legislation to really reduce taxation. The people who run this country are the people who take off their coats and do a day's work, not the bludgers and urgers who have not paid their taxes.

Senator Puplick —Or put in their returns.

Senator ELSTOB —No one is immune from the law. If I did not put in my tax return I would expect to be fined, the same as anybody else.

Senator Peter Baume —Like Paul Keating.

Senator ELSTOB —Because he is a man who works extremely hard. No one in that position would deliberately do that. It was a mistake; undoubtedly he will pay for it. Do not wrap that round us. That was an honest mistake by a man who is working extremely hard. It is all right for this lot opposite; they have never done a day's work in their lives. That is the truth. They do not know how to work; that is their bother. As I said before, those in opposition do not have resources unless somebody is pulling out the big dollar and giving it to them. Opposition senators have never gone round the hotels to raffle chooks or work hard. That is how we beat them. That is below their dignity. It is easier to take the graft; it is easier to take the easy dollar. We have never done that. They cannot honestly say that they have not done it. If they had not done it they would support this Bill. That is the difficulty of it.

I have taken surveys for years. Opposition senators should ask the people what they think of the Liberal Party for not supporting this Bill. They condemn the Liberals, and they will condemn them further. This will do them no good. It will be their greatest mistake. The people are not fools all the time. Those opposite have fooled the people for years. They have called us coms; they have done everything. Those days are over. They are in opposition, and they deserve to stay in opposition. This Bill will be defeated because they believe in evil. They do not believe in justice; they do not believe in a fair go. That is what it is all about. My time has nearly finished. The Liberal Party and the National Party will not benefit by not supporting this Bill. I support the Bill.

Sitting suspended from 6.29 to 8 p.m.

Debate (on motion by Senator Button) adjourned.