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Friday, 20 February 1987
Page: 378

Senator MAGUIRE —My question is directed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Is the Minister able to provide any recent information as to the effect of the non-deductibility of entertainment expenses on the restaurant and hospitality trades? If so, does the information lend any support to the claims made by members of the Opposition in relation to job losses and restaurant closures?

Senator WALSH —The short answer to the question is that the facts do not provide any support for the assertions made 15 or 18 months ago by assorted members of the Opposition. Indeed, the facts flatly contradict the predictions that they made. Just to remind the Senate of some of the predictions: In December 1985 Senator Messner cited a BIS-Shrapnel Pty Ltd alleged study which claimed that a total of 18,000 people directly and indirectly would lose their jobs. From that I can assume only that Phillip Ruthven was very fond of the free boozy lunch. A month after the announcement Senator Knowles said that 5,000 restaurant workers had already been sacked. Senator Boswell said that there would be a massive fall in employment in February-March 1986 and about 14,000 jobs would be lost. Senator Short said that 20,000 people would be put out of work, Senator Jessop said that 1986 would see the demise of restaurants throughout Australia and Mr Hodgman said that 80,000 people would be put out of work. Those are the predictions of members of the Opposition and they stick by them, I notice. They do not allow their prejudices to be clouded at all by the facts. Once their propositions have been tested imperically and been found wanting they persist with the beliefs that they had before, just as they persist with their belief in a deregulated labour market-a free for all in the labour market-that would produce a wages explosion followed by another catastrophic recession, just like the one they engineered in 1981-82. It is said that the higher anthropoids generally have the potential for trial and error learning. I regret that the members of the particular sub-section of the higher anthropoids who populate the Opposition benches do not seem to have that capacity. They insist on trying to repeat their mistakes.

Senator Chaney —Mr President, I take a point of order. I suggest that the Minister has just crossed that fine line of abusiveness which renders his remarks unparliamentary. I ask that he withdraw that last remark. Quite simply, the Opposition is sick of the boorishness of the Minister for Finance, his total lack of manners and his continual abuse. He has been forced to withdraw on half a dozen occasions in the first three days of sittings. I again ask that he be made to withdraw his comments.

The PRESIDENT —Order! There is no point of order. I ask Senator Walsh to get back to the question that was asked by Senator Maguire.

Senator Gareth Evans —Amend that to the lower anthropoids.

Senator WALSH —I note the comment of Senator Evans. I was about to make a similar comment or offer if it would help Senator Chaney. Contrary to all the dire predictions that were made, the fact is that employment figures for the year ending November 1986 show that employment in restaurants, hotels and clubs had increased by 15,000 in round figures-some 6 per cent-from 230,000 to 245,000.

Senator Messner —What was that category again?

Senator WALSH —The category was restaurants, hotels and clubs. I suppose that Senator Messner will go away and try to do the same sort of shonky analysis as did Senator Baume-

Senator Messner —Why don't you stop telling lies.

The PRESIDENT —Order! I ask Senator Messner to withdraw the remark.

Senator Messner —Which remark?

The PRESIDENT —The remark that you made.

Senator Messner —Mr President, he is not telling the truth to the Senate. I said `lies'. If he considers that to be objectionable I withdraw it.

Senator WALSH —I dare say that the Waste Watch Committee will produce another Press release, with the same sort of shonky analysis that it produced in the Press release about 12 months ago on this subject, and distribute that next Sunday. I just warn the Press Gallery that if that happens I would appreciate it if they would get in touch with me or my staff and have the correct position put to them, lest they fall for another shonky Waste Watch Committee scoop.