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Parliament House, 3 June 1999: doorstop [GST; Reconciliation agreement]



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LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

 

DOORSTOP - HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, PARLIAMENT HOUSE

3 JUNE 1999

 

E&OE-PROOF ONLY

 

Subjects: GST, Reconciliation Agreement

 

BEAZLEY:

 

The Prime Minister has been complaining about our graphic demonstrations of the anomalies in his new confused tax arrangements, but none of the so-called stunts that we have utilised this week compares with the $20 billion stunt that is being pulled on the Australian people now, with this tax package. It is yet another strange reversal of roles in the call last night from the Leader of the Australian Democrats for a huge use of the Australian tax payers dollar to convince the tax payers that they ought to have their pockets picked. And, we have had $17 million spent on that, during the course of the election campaign, $17 million on a tax advertising campaign that didn’t mention the fatal words GST, and now millions more are called for. That money could be usefully spent on Aboriginal Reconciliation, on education, health or on any other neglected areas, as far as this Government is concerned.

 

JOURNALIST:

 

Are you expecting Mr Howard to endorse the Reconciliation Agreement unveiled today?

 

BEAZLEY:

 

I hope he does. The Council is to be congratulated on coming up both with good strategies and elegant words. The words aren’t quite the ones I would have used, I think the words of atonement could have been a little stronger, but nevertheless there has been good recognition accorded custodianship, there has been good recognition accorded the experiences of the original inhabitants of this country and there is a way forward projected and I do hope that out of what has been a pretty sorry three years in regard to Aboriginal Reconciliation we actually have a basis to move forward now.

 

JOURNALIST:

 

So, the Prime Minister endorses today’s draft, or today’s Reconciliation draft, do you think that is a definite step for the Prime Minister, to move this Government toward Reconciliation?

 

BEAZLEY:

 

It would be helpful if any endorsement of his, and I do hope he does endorse it, that any endorsement of his was reflected in other actions of the Government. There has been some good work done, recently, in the area of employment, making up for the slashings of expenditure in that area, previously. If the Prime Minister takes it further, for example, to recognise custodianship in his draft preamble, that might be another practical step in relation to fully recognising the meaning of the words that are contained in this preamble. But, I would be pretty happy if he started off by signing up to this.

 

JOURNALIST:

 

Do you think the Opposition’s stunts, daily stunts are damaging enough for the GST and enough to possibly convince the Democrats to walk away, or, are they working?

 

BEAZLEY:

 

I hope so. I find it interesting, Costello is up in Parliament saying ya ha there are anomalies in the wholesales sales tax system but he has always been saying that. He has been saying it for the last year. But, the context in which he is saying that now is a defence against anomalies in the system that he is putting forward, and while he stands up and rants and raves on that, he merely demonstrates the point that we are making. We don’t have tax reform any more, we have a bad tax change.

 

JOURNALIST:

 

Claims this morning made by Senator Bob Brown, that the

Democrats have been duded by the Government because the environmental

aspects of this particular deal were going to happen anyway. Do you think the

Democrats have been duded?

 

BEAZLEY:

 

Absolutely. A grand part of the hoodwink, because they have made great play of the environmental consequences of their agreement with the Government. A grand part of the hoodwink has been the fact demonstrated without any shadow of doubt today, that the emissions controls that are contained within it were going to be done by the Government on the recommendation of the Road Transport Commission. And we have more evidence in that regard, which we will use opportunities during the course of the day to lay out and this is the last fig leaf if you like of the Democrats protection of their deal to the complaints of their community, their constituency, and I would think they would be quite worried by what they see in that document.

 

JOURNALIST:

 

The more evidence that you have would also prove that the Democrats have been it was going to happen anyway?

 

BEAZLEY:

 

We are fighting very hard to stop this very unnecessary tax change. We want to move in a positive direction also. We are not simply saying don’t do this, we have our own program of tax reform, which I think, is much more in tune with the aspirations of this nation. This nation needs to move forward in the creativity of its industries and its people, and the tax changes that it needs have to underpin that and that means tax changes that benefits business when they are going down the road of good research and development, when they are going down the road of developing new products. These are the tax changes we need and we need the tax changes that encourage people to work. We have positive alternatives and the Democrats need to look at that and look at how hamstrung they will be if this tax package goes through.

 

JOURNALIST:

 

What does Labor do when the stunts run out?

 

BEAZLEY:

 

Well, the point of the stunts is to demonstrate the reality. The underlying reality of this is business becomes a nightmare for 370 thousand small businesses. That is what the anomalies that we point out mean. They are absurd, absolutely ridiculous but the real essence of their stupidity will be felt in the cumbersome, time consuming, utterly unproductive operations of some 370 thousand small businesses in this country, that part of their operations which deals with their auditing processes. This is going to be a major nightmare on Main Street and the nightmare will be coordinated through a bunch of people who are only trying to do a decent job in this country and employ a few people and contribute to growth. They are going to become tax collectors in a way they never anticipated.

 

JOURNALIST:

 

Half a billion dollars is quite a lot to help them to adjust to the change though.

 

BEAZLEY:

 

It was the same amount of money that was available before we did this and who is going to help them after the first impact? Sure, they will set up a few systems, but if you happen to be, and it is invariably the case because most of the small businesses in this country don’t have financial departments, treasury departments, who is going to deal with the problem as year in, year out, days are devoted to collecting this tax, accounting this tax, getting this tax rebated, days and days of utterly unproductive work, who is going to be compensating for that ten years from now?

 

JOURNALIST:

 

Do you know why Mr Hawke was meeting the Prime Minister

yesterday?

 

BEAZLEY:

 

I do, but that is a matter for Mr Hawke and the Prime Minister.

 

JOURNALIST:

 

.. .economic figures...

 

BEAZLEY:

 

You obviously know that that is not true, because what you have heard from me, day after day, is the real reason why we should oppose this tax change, which is no longer tax reform. I do think the media need to focus on this, because it is very interesting, why does every single credible economic journalist oppose it, why is the Treasurer of the nation deeply embarrassed? Is it because it is good, or because it is bad? That is a simple question that people need to ask themselves about all of this and there has not been quite amongst the political journalists and asking of that question in the way in which it has been asked by some of their colleagues. The penny will drop, it will be a darn sight more than a penny too, the penny will drop some time over the course of the next four weeks, but if the Treasurer thinks that, if the economic journalists think that, the nation is about to have a bad and unnecessary experience.

 

JOURNALIST:

 

Your tax plan isn’t getting any gold stars from the economic journalists though, either.

 

BEAZLEY:

 

Well, they are focused on the Government, we press on. But, I would say this about it, everybody is starting to pick up what we are saying about Capital Gains Taxes in business, everybody is starting to pick up what we are saying about R & D in business, everybody is starting to pick up the dangers that might emerge if the Government trades off accelerated depreciation for their 30 cent rate. They don’t acknowledge us but we are happy if they just do it.

 

ends.

 

 

al  1999-06-07  12:03