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Tuesday, 20 April 1999
Page: 3849

Senator FORSHAW (12:42 PM) —I would like to commence my contribution to this debate on the so-called `a new tax system legislation' by congratulating those senators who are members of the select committee and the various other standing committees that undertook the inquiry into this legislation. This was work that was performed by the select committee and the standing committees in a relatively short space of time due to time pressures imposed by government. But, importantly, it was work that had to be done by the Senate committees because of the refusal of the Howard coalition government to put all of the detail before the people at the last election.

There have been two elections where a GST—a goods and services tax—has been an issue before Australian people. The first was in 1993 when the then Leader of the Opposition, John Hewson, presented his Fightback package to the electorate. The second was in the election last year in 1998. What we know is that on both occasions, when the people have had before them proposals for a radical change to the system of taxation in this country and a proposal to introduce a goods and services tax, the people have overwhelmingly rejected such a proposal.

That was certainly the case in 1993 when the Fightback package was overwhelmingly rejected. At least on that occasion the then Leader of the Opposition, John Hewson, was prepared to put all of the detail before the public, and when the public had an opportunity to scrutinise that package they overwhelmingly rejected it. They re-elected the Labor government, which opposed the package, with an increased majority of seats and also with an increased majority of the two-party preferred vote. I understand the Senate is going to adjourn for lunch. I wish all senators a GST-free lunch.

Debate interrupted.

Sitting suspended from 12.45 p.m. to 2.00 p.m.