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Thursday, 26 March 1987
Page: 1594

Mr KEATING —This issue of the Liberal Party's tax commitment has been an issue in the Parliament now for some weeks. On a number of occasions both the Prime Minister and I have detailed line by line-and gave the Leader of the Opposition an annotated document, a copy of which I have here, which I am happy to give him again on each annotated reference--

Mr Spender —Madam Speaker, I raise a point of order. What the Treasurer just said is that this issue of the Liberal Party's tax commitments cannot be part of his portfolio. That kind of an answer has been ruled out constantly by Speakers in the past. It debases Question Time to allow it to continue-

Madam SPEAKER —Order! I refer the honourable member to the question. The Treasurer is in order with the question that was asked of him.

Mr Spender —The answer must be on a matter which is within the Treasurer's portfolio.

Mr KEATING —I have just asked my office for a copy of the tally of the Opposition's tax expenditure commitments and each reference by either the Leader of the Opposition or his shadow Cabinet in relation to each individual item. I again pass it to him and invite him--

Mr Cadman —Madam Speaker, I draw your attention to standing order 185. For four days in a row we have had this rat-trap garbage from the Treasurer-the man who has sent broke more businesses in Australia than any Treasurer in Australia's history.

Madam SPEAKER —Order! The standing order does not apply. The honourable member will resume his seat.

Mr KEATING —I again say that this matter can be put to rest by the Leader of the Opposition writing and saying where each annotation is wrong. The Government puts to the Leader of the Opposition all these references to official Opposition spokesmen and asks the Opposition to tell us where those statements are wrong or where that calculation is wrong; to indicate to us where they are and please reply. There we are, the Sir Robert Askin school of politics is in again. The old Ash Street brigade is back.

Mr Carlton —By no stretch of Standing Orders could the last remark be in order.

Madam SPEAKER —I am sorry, I did not hear the last remark. If the Treasurer has made a comment that is out of order, I ask him to withdraw it.

Mr KEATING —I was talking about the Sir Robert Askin school of politics, that is all. There was no reference to anybody. What we just saw in that petulant, stupid, childish, juvenile outburst by the honourable member for Mackellar was the ripping up of each annotated reference to the spokesmen of the Opposition to each particular tax expenditure commitment.

Mr Carlton —I find the Treasurer's remarks offensive and I ask that they be withdrawn.

Madam SPEAKER —The House gave the right to the Chair to make decisions on such matters.

Mr Carlton —Is it not possible to raise objection to the sort of language we get from this person all the time?

Madam SPEAKER —The Treasurer did not use unparliamentary language.

Mr Cunningham —I raise a point of order. I wish to raise with you the fact that we have just witnessed the Opposition spokesman on Treasury matters destroying a document which has been tabled by the Treasurer.

Madam SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member has no point of order. He will resume his seat. I call the Treasurer.

Mr KEATING —Madam Speaker--

Mr Tuckey —Madam Speaker, I remind you of your rulings on previous occasions, when a person's name was sufficient to have someone thrown out of this place. We are complaining that you have different rules.

Madam SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member for O'Connor is getting very close to reflecting upon the Chair. I point out to the honourable member for O'Connor that the statement I made to this House, by which I stand, was a statement that no member of this House will intrude into the private life of any other member in this House. I stand by it and I will ensure that it is enforced. The normal thrust and give and take of political language is accepted by everybody in this House. If it is unparliamentary or abusive, I will stop it and so will the deputies.

Mr Tuckey —On a further point of order, Madam Speaker: I have brought this to your attention before, when the former Special Minister of State referred to illegal matters related to that very matter of Sir Robert Askin, and that passed also.

Madam SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member for O'Connor is surely not pointing to that as being an intrusion into private lives.

Mr KEATING —I conclude on these points: There is an obligation on the Government to bring down Budgets which add up in their arithmetic and are appropriate for the economic conditions. If the Opposition wishes to curry favour in the community by promising $16 billion of outlays and tax expenditure commitments--

Mr Carlton —That is not true.

Mr KEATING —Well, answer each particular reference. The Opposition has the simple remedy available of replying to each reference. If the Opposition gives us the reply, we will understand where it stands, the Parliament will understand where it stands, maybe the public will understand where it stands, and maybe even Graeme Starr, the Opposition's State secretary, will understand where it stands. If we are going to have morality in our political leadership, which the Leader of the Opposition was speaking about yesterday, the Opposition should give us a reply to these references so that there can be a proper basis to our politics instead of these cheap grabs for votes which the Opposition knows the nation cannot afford.