Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard   

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Thursday, 3 November 1983
Page: 2298

Mr PEACOCK (Leader of the Opposition)(2.50) —I have raised this matter of public importance because there can be no doubting the increasing community concern and, indeed, alarm at the arrogant actions of this Government in introducing measures for which it has no mandate, for taking steps which at no time before the 5 March election did it foreshadow, and in many cases it specifically promised not to take those steps. I have in front of me an extremely long list of actions taken by this Government without any mandate. The list is far too long for me to be able to deal with it comprehensively in the time available.

Mr Steedman —Sit down then.

Mr PEACOCK —I will ask leave to table it, and I hope it will be incorporated in the record. The list is too long to be dealt with comprehensively, but it is a list that exposes all honourable members who support the Government as shameless , cynical hypocrites. It is a list that ensures that Australian electors will not again trust a Labor Party such as this. If this was not damning enough, it does not include the other side of the coin, which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Howard) will deal with this evening; that is, all of those actions that have not been taken, notwithstanding specific election commitments that they would be taken. There are two ways of misleading people at election time. A party can tell people that it will do something and then not do anything about it-the Deputy Leader of the Opposition will deal with that tonight-or it does not tell them and then introduces punitive measures for which it has no mandate. That is what we are dealing with today.

In the time available to me I will refer to two examples of the types of actions taken without a mandate by this Government. They are important examples and they are examples that illustrate graphically the arrogance, the cynicism and, indeed, the absolute duplicity of this Government. To see the type of government we currently have we need look no further than its approach to the aged and to taxation. Tuesday of this week saw the beginning of Labor's attack on the very aged in our community, those over 70. Let us look at the way the attack began. The Government did not move sensitively with our elderly citizens. It wrote them all a letter-a good bureaucratic approach-the basis of which was that if the Department of Social Security did not receive details of their income in a certain time, it would cut off their pension. What did the Minister for Health (Dr Blewett) say when my colleague the honourable member for Cook (Mr Dobie) raised this callous attitude with him in the House on Tuesday? The Minister said that the Department would reinstate the pension when it had an opportunity to assess income details. That is a measure of the Government's sensitivity. That is a measure of the Government's compassion. That is the extent of its caring for the aged, the most vulnerable group in our community. It does not matter that there may be no money for food or rent for the 16,000 elderly people that Press reports indicate will be affected. The Minister says: 'Not to worry, the pension will be reinstated in due course'.

Did the elderly in our community and their families who care for them know on 5 March that this is what a Labor government would mean to them? No, they did not, because not one mention was made of this measure at any time before 5 March by any of Labor's spokesmen; nor was any mention made of the other attacks on the aged that this Government intends to pursue. There was no mention of a new tax on lump sum superannuation payments and there was no mention of an assets test on pensions. Where is the mandate for these measures? There is none whatsoever. Before the election Labor spokesmen talked often of caring; they talked often of compassion.

Mr Goodluck —Care for the aged.

Mr PEACOCK —They spoke of the need to deal sensitively with the needs of the aged, as the honourable member interjects. Of course, as he will recall, they spoke of the need to provide them with security and with dignity. But it was all just talk. The Government's actions have now been exposed as mere talk but, beyond that, as sheer hypocrisy and humbug. Our elderly deserve better than this . They know they will get a better deal only through the return of the coalition government, because we will repeal Labor's iniquitous tax on superannuation payments. We will repeal its arbitrary and highly discriminatory assets test, and we will give the elderly in the community the security and the dignity that they deserve. We will adopt, not the ad hoc measures that hit them, as the Government has done, but a comprehensive approach to retirement policies, and enable those least able to rearrange their affairs-the ones the Government is hitting-to be able to plan with certainty, and to live with dignity and in compassionate circumstances. We will put an end to the spate of ad hoc policy announcements that have caused so much concern to the aged and to their families . If members of the Government attend pensioners' meetings, and listen to their complaints, and beyond the meetings, listen to the statements that are being proffered throughout the community on this issue, they will realise that the aged in the community are crying out for some security and certainty in planning their retirement. They are crying out for policies which do not penalise them for attempting to look after themselves. Most of all, they are crying out for this Government to deliver what it promised and to stop taking actions for which it has absolutely no mandate.

The aged are not the only ones in the community making such a plea. How many of those who voted Labor on 5 March knew that Labor would impose new indirect taxes and index them so that they would increase automatically every six months? How many knew that Labor would withdraw the home mortgage interest rebate, increasing the tax burden on all home owners? How many knew that Labor would withdraw the medical insurance rebate before the introduction of Medicare? How many knew that Labor would impose the new tax on superannuation payments, to which I have already referred? How many? The answer is none, absolutely none, because not one member of the Labor Party before the election warned the ordinary citizen that Labor was intent upon increasing the tax burden on ordinary Australians. What it promised was immediate tax cuts. Now all Australia knows what that sort of promise means from this Government. Not content with the deception already achieved in this area, the detail of which I have gone over; the Government has treated us to the kite-flying on a whole range of new taxes such as a resources tax, a capital gains tax, a wealth tax.

Mr Steedman —Wait until you get the wealth tax.

Mr PEACOCK —That is right, the honourable member cannot wait for it. Even the back benchers are joining the plethora of Ministers who want a wealth tax. Does the honourable member want a capital gains tax?

Mr Steedman —Yes.

Mr PEACOCK —Does the honourable member want a resources tax?

Mr Steedman —Yes.

Mr PEACOCK —Does the honourable member want a gift tax?

Mr Steedman —Yes, but I do not want a Liberal government.

Mr PEACOCK —Does the honourable member want death duties?

Mr Steedman —Yes.

Mr PEACOCK —He is not on his own because, let me tell the House-

Mr Steedman —You had better ask the Treasurer about it; I do not speak for the Government.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon. Les Johnson) -Order! The honourable member for Casey has had a fair go. I ask the House to come to order.

Mr PEACOCK —This loquacious socialist who somehow or other injected himself into this forum is not the only man who speaks for all of those matters. Do not think it is just the back benchers who affirm those questions that I pose. The Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) on 16 February said: 'There will be no new capital gains tax '. The honourable member for Casey (Mr Steedman) did not like that. But he is not on his own because in June the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Lionel Bowen), who was then the acting Prime Minister, said:

There is a fair amount of income deemed to be capital which escapes taxation. A lot of people are calling income capital and getting away with it. You've got to look at what you really mean by capital.

The Deputy Prime Minister, who was the Acting Prime Minister at the time, affirmed the views of the honourable member for Casey. But he is not on his own, either. What about the Minister for Finance (Mr Dawkins)? He refused to rule out the introduction of a capital gains tax at the very time that the Acting Prime Minister was using the words to which I referred. What about the Press conference on 10 September? The honourable member for Casey has more ministerial friends on this issue. They are piling up. Who are they? The Leader of the Government in the Senate, the Minister for Industry and Commerce (Senator Button ), unambiguously advocated the introduction of a capital gains tax. He was quoted as saying: 'I have been advocating a capital gains tax for several years now'. He had already said, in a television interview on 29 July, that the Government would also have to consider introducing death duties. Remember the former Special Minister of State making a plea for a wealth tax?

So it is not just that poor, inane, though loquacious, honourable member for Casey who affirms death duties and who affirms a capital gains tax; who affirms, in fact, all those taxes that I went through-death duties, wealth taxes, and a capital gains tax; a plethora of Ministers have joined in the same chorus. But not one of them, not even the honourable member for Casey, said before 5 March that that is what he wanted. That is what this matter of public importance is all about-introducing matters and taking action on them but having no mandate whatsoever for them.

In case Government members should think that the honourable member for Casey is the only back bencher to get in on the act with the increasing number of Ministers, let me mention another one. The Greek ruin is not in the House at the moment, but let us look at the position of the honourable member for Burke (Dr Theophanous), because he is not just a back bencher; he is after all the Chairman of the Caucus Federal Parliamentary Industry Committee, and in a speech to the Parliament in the first week of October he backed calls that were made at Australian Labor Party conferences for the imposition of a national death duties tax as well as a capital gains tax. He is Chairman of the Caucus Industry Committee and honourable members should remember what a capital gains tax does and whom it hits. It hits not just the home owner but small business in particular. That is what the Government is all about. And that is why we draw attention to this matter today. Indeed, I believe that there is an increasing obsession within the Labor Party to find new and interesting ways of confiscating people's incomes. The honourable member for Casey would agree with that, would he not?

Mr Steedman —Not necessarily.

Mr PEACOCK —What about confiscating their savings? Yes, the honourable member would affirm that. People's incomes and savings are confiscated. The people of Queensland recognise that Labor means big government; Labor means big taxes. I tell Government members that on Saturday the people of Moreton will show the Federal Government what they think of Labor and its high taxing policies, because it is now patently clear that Labor has no clear policy direction other than high taxation. Labor is not interested in helping people to look after themselves, to get ahead and to have a nest egg. If they get together a few assets, Labor says: 'Confiscate those assets; take them away'. What is the role of an Australian to be if it is not to improve his lot and have a nest egg with which to retire? But Labor wants to whack him at every step of the way. Its only interest is in distributing other people's assets-the assets of those who have saved for their future and those who hope to save for their future. These people now know that they have to beware of Labor's tax programs. The Australian people now know that contrary to Labor's rhetoric before the election, when the Labor Party talks of the 'wealthy' who must bear 'a fairer share of the burden', it really means ordinary Australians who have accumulated a few modest assets in their pursuit of security and financial independence. The Labor Government's tax on superannuation whacks at them as hard as anything else. The Labor Government has no mandate for these higher taxes and it knows that if it had put the sort of approach that I have elaborated today before the people on 5 March, it would have been defeated, as it will be defeated on Saturday. Labor knows it has chosen a deceitful approach. It promised tax cuts and it delivered new and higher taxes instead. I know that there will be a clear message to Canberra from the electors of Moreton of just what they think of Labor's tax obsession and its hypocritical election promises.

Mr Deputy Speaker, I have been able to outline only briefly the way this Government has acted without a mandate in two important areas. They are examples only. In fact I have a list of 27 here. This list of such actions by this Government shows an arrogant contempt of the Australian electorate. It is an endless list. I would like to read some of it or perhaps the Treasurer (Mr Keating) who is at the table, might allow me to have it incorporated in Hansard.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon. Les Johnson) —It is not the prerogative of the Minister to give leave in this matter. The requirement is that the proposal needs to conform with the requirements of the House. Subject to that I will consider the proposition. The honourable member's time has expired.