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Wednesday, 23 March 1994
Page: 2062

Senator TROETH —My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. I draw his attention to the statement made by the Prime Minister's committee on employment opportunities that:

Rapid and sustained economic growth is essential to reduce unemployment.

It goes on to suggest that faster economic growth is feasible provided that disincentives to employ people are removed. How can the proposed jobs levy be reconciled with the aim of giving employers an incentive to expand and employ more staff?

Senator GARETH EVANS —That question is premised on the assumption there will be a jobs levy and there is no basis for that assumption. It has not yet been decided in or out, as I have made clear on more than a dozen previous occasions. So, there is no basis on which I can give a sensible response to that question.

Senator TROETH —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Given this contradiction in the employment discussion paper and the fact that the minister did not answer a similar question asked by Senator Knowles yesterday, I ask: what is the difference between a jobs levy and a tax? When will the government sort out the division within its ranks and decide whether it wants the jobs levy or economic growth?

Senator GARETH EVANS —I am going to go on not answering similar questions, starting now.