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Button misleads on indirect taxes

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Senator Richard Alston (u^w.*,

Senator Button's response after Question Time today to my question asked of him yesterday relating to Dr Ann Harding's Paper on the Labor's regressive wholesale sales and excise taxes was profoundly dishonest and a blatant misleading of the Senate.

To compound the felony, Senator Button refused to provide me w ith the papers from which he read.

Senator Button claimed the Canberra Times article published yesterday on the m atter was a misreading of the Dr Harding's paper.

In fact, it is Senator Button who has misread or deliberately distorted the paper and he should apologise to the Canberra Times and the journalist concerned.

Senator Button quoted from Table 1 and Table 2 of Dr Harding's paper as well as from the first half of the paper from which he drew " W ST is essentially proportional across much o f the income rangdXpage 4). Senator Button presented this as the finding of the paper, completely disregarding the remaining ten pages of the paper, including its conclusion.

However, in the first part of the paper from which Senator Button chose to selectively quote, Dr Harding surveys current practice in determining the impact of indirect taxes on households. In the second half, Dr Harding points out that current practice does not take account of the number of people in a household - giving equal weighting to a household of one as to a household of seven or more. She then goes

on to correct for this, and in so doing is able to conclude "indirect taxes as a percentage o f gross income fall from 10.75% for the bottom decile to 5.1% for the top decild' (page 8).

Dr Harding's final conclusion - in fact, the very last sentence of her paper - says, " W ST and excises appeared more regressive alter households had been ranked by an income measure which took greater count o f their needs."

This is the paper's finding, and not the rubbish read out by Button after Question Time today.

The bottom line is that the Government has been severely embarrassed by Dr Harding's paper - being published by its own Centre for Social and Economic Modelling - and no amount of deceit on the part of Senator Button will hide the fact th at Labor is ripping billions of dollars from low income earners in hidden taxes without a cent of compensation.


For further info, phnnp- [06] 277 3605. 16 September 1992