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Thursday, 29 March 1979
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Mr SAINSBURY (Eden) (Monaro) - Members of the Australian Labor Party must be a group of masochists to bring on a debate such as this at a time like this. Time and time again I hear members of the Opposition raising matters such as this in order that they can fall into the deep pit. I have observed this debate with great interest. We had a heavyweight, the Treasurer (Mr Howard), against a couple of bantamweights and, I suggest, a wind-up mouse. The honourable member for Batman (Mr Howe), the wind-up mouse, does not know what some of the words he used mean. He would not know what the words 'fiscal' and 'responsible ' mean but he probably would know what 'crisis' means because he belongs to the group of people who brought this country into a great crisis in the three years that people regret so much throughout our community. The Labor Party does not know where to jump. It does not know whether to applaud the Government. In recent speeches the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Hayden) implied this by grudgingly admitting that the economy is moving ahead. The Opposition does not know whether to applaud the Government or to condemn it with trumped up rubbish such as this taxation debate. The Opposition's charges are absolute rubbish as was proved by the figures that were introduced by the Treasurer this morning. Opposition members do not know whether they want higher taxes, as the honourable member for Gellibrand (Mr Willis) has told us they do. I quote what the Treasurer alluded to from the speech made by the honourable member for Gellibrand (Mr Willis) to the gathering of labour economists in Brisbane last year. What he said needs to be repeated to Australians time and time again so that they do not fall into the trap of thinking that a Labor government might be legitimate. The honourable member for Gellibrand said:

If Labor does not gain office next election then by 1983, when we could next hope to gain office, we would face a mammoth task in rebuilding the public sector and maybe an equally mammoth task in convincing the electorate that it should pay a higher level of tax to enable us to do so.

What does the Labor Party mean by that? That is what the honourable member for Gellibrand, the spokesman on Treasury matters, said. He wants to convince the Australian people that they will have to pay higher levels of tax. And Opposition members have the temerity in this House to criticise this Government when it increases taxes! This allegation is a stupid untruth. Does the Opposition want low taxes or does it want what the previous Leader of the Opposition said in 1972 in the Blacktown speech? Does it want to soak the people of Australia to pay for increased programs of all sorts? That is what was said in 1972 and what I have just quoted was said in 1978. In all cases the Labor Party admits that it wants to soak the little man and the rich man of Australia to pay for extravagant programs. I was amazed to hear the Leader of the Opposition say that the Opposition wants a marked change in economic policy. When has the Labor Party put up a viable economic policy that would be a good alternative to the policies operating at present? Never. It has suggested policies that are non-viable and that would require a marked increase in taxation to pay for them. A sensible policy has not been put up by the Opposition since it went out of office. One would have thought that the lessons of the years it was in office would have shown the Opposition that the Australian people did not want those policies that we had to live through for three years. Before the election of 197S taxation galloped upwards every year. In 1972 Mr Whitlam said: 'We will raise the level of expenditure by taking the increase in taxation that will inevitably come from inflation'. That is what Australians were told. They fell into the trap and voted the Labor Party into office and that is the price they had to pay. What has happened since 1975? In real terms taxation has started to go down this year. I will not repeat figures that have been mentioned by the Treasurer but this year in real terms personal taxation is down. This has been the case every year that the present Government has been in office. Something has been done to help the little man, the man whom we represent, to ameliorate his taxation problems. In every year that we have been in office there has been tax indexation. Honourable members opposite cannot run away from that.

I regret that we have not received very many pats on the back in the Australian community for this. People received this benefit in their pay packets on the first of July every year. They received this benefit in 1976, 1977 and 1978. On 1 July every year every taxpayer in Australia has found that he has paid less tax. Honourable members cannot avoid those facts. What is the use of the Labor Party moving a motion such as that trying to suggest that it is not the truth. Every working man in Australia knows that that is the truth. Every person in Australia knows the truth about family allowances too. Perhaps that is a peripheral area. I do not believe that it is and neither do the women in Australia, who represent 50 per cent of the population. The family allowance system allowed people who were paying hide or no tax immediately to receive something meaningful in the post every month. Many women with families were paying almost no taxation after the normal concessions. There were plenty of those people with five children who immediately received $25.50 a week. Those people remember the family allowance and it is no good denigrating it. It was a positive move by the Government, which believes in the average Australian and which believes in helping the person on a low income. All these taxation measures are in that direction. The family allowance was a positive move by this Government to help those people. I admit that it did not help those people on higher incomes who were paying higher taxation, or helped them only marginally, but the person on a low income was helped substantially. Those people well know and remembered it at the 1977 election.

All sorts of things were brought in by the bantam weights in this debate. Things were said about the money supply. I would just like to know what the Leader of the Opposition means when he talks about our problems with the money supply. Of course there are problems with the money supply in an economy that has bottomed out; an economy where the degree of confidence has risen so markedly. Of course there are problems with the money supply because people now want to go and borrow money to invest in order to create jobs later on. We have problems with the money supply and we are battling with it as any responsible government would. What does the Leader of the Opposition intend to do with all his spending programs? How is he going to fund them? What is he going to do about the money supply? Is he going to do what the previous Government did and let the money supply go out by some 20 per cent in a year? Is that what he has in mind, or is he going to fund all these extravagant new programs that he keeps talking about by raising taxation, the very thing for which he is criticising this Government in this debate. Really, for the Opposition to raise a motion such as this just defies all credibility. The people of Australia who are listening to this debate and who read about this and know the attitude of the Labor Party know what is going on.

At the end of the speech made by the Leader of the Opposition, in a very moving statement he said: 'It is time somebody stood up in defence of the rights of the ordinary people of Australia'. When has the Labor Party stood up for the rights of the ordinary people of Australia in the last seven years? When has it stood up for the ordinary businessman, the grocer or the fellow who has gained so many advantages from the present Government which has kept down the prices of the replacement goods that he has to buy? When has the Opposition ever stood up for the rural industry which is injecting massive funds through increased profits into the Australian economy at the present time? Opposition members should go out and talk to the working people who they allege they represent and ask them what they think about the things that were done to them during the period that the Labor Government was in office. They have shown what they thought about the Labor Government's policy at the ballot box in two successive elections.

The ordinary little man of Australia, the ordinary Aussie who wants to get out and have a go, does not want to ride on the back of some other person who also wants to get out and have a go. The Opposition kicks the little man when he is down. It kicks the little man with high taxation and in speeches, such as the one in 1972 where it said that all the extravagant programs would be funded out of the little man's pay packet. The Opposition kicks the little man with statements such as the one made by the honourable member for Gellibrand (Mr Willis) who said that he will convince the electorate that it should pay a higher level of taxation. The Opposition kicks the little man by making sure that investment in this country does not get carried forward, with the result that jobs disappear. It kicks the little man by cutting out opportunities for industry, such as the mining industry, which virtually closed down its expansion operations during the Labor Government 's period of office. It kicks the little man, but at the same time Opposition members stand up in this House day by day saying that they represent him. The little man of Australia knows that Opposition members do not represent him. I think that increasingly the word is getting around that this Labor Party does not represent the old values; it does not represent what it used to represent. It does not represent the little man at all. It represents the people who want to ride on the backs of other people. It wants to take money from a person who is prepared to have a go, to just give it away and spend it so easily. What does it want to do with the tax surcharges this year? All through the debates of the last few weeks, and through Question Time, we have heard so-called probing questions from the leader of the Opposition who keeps asking: What are we going to do? What are we going to do with the surcharge?' Does he want the surcharge to be taken off? Does he want us to go ahead with the things that we have promised we would do? Does he want us to increase confidence in this country, or has he a vested interest in stopping recovery? We suspect that that is the position, and that is what the little man also suspects. The policies of the Labor Party would destroy investment. These policies would destroy the confidence that has appeared in this country in a very fragile way during the last couple of years- a country that was frightened to death during the years of the Labor Government. The mendacity of the Labor Party on the question of taxation makes me feel ill. When one hears the honourable member for Batman (Mr Howe) accusing us of running high deficits, one wonders. One remembers so clearly that when the Government came into power in 1975 we had a situation where the deficit would have run into some $4,000m or $5,000m, not $2,000m or $3, 000m. We were committed to reducing that deficit. The honourable member for Batman should not talk about deficits is he does not understand what the word means.

Opposition members interjecting-

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (MrMillarOrder! I ask the honourable gentlemen on my left to remain silent.

Mr SAINSBURY - Yes, they are rather noisy. They have been doing a lot of shouting but that will not take away the fact that they no longer represent the little man in Australia. The more that is said in this place the better. I am just reminded that when the Labor Party members accuse this Government of charging higher tax it is very much like Satan rebuking sin. They are just trying to have the Australian people on. They are a high tax party, and they have no sense of repentence in that fact. They want to soak the

Australian people in order to fund extravagant programs. I know that the Australian people will not fall for it again.

Debate interrupted.

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