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Wednesday, 11 November 1998
Page: 110

Mr CREAN —Mr Speaker, my question is again addressed to the Treasurer. It refers to his earlier answer to my question. Treasurer, doesn't the Melbourne Institute modelling, using ABS data, show that the cost of the GST would be up to five times higher for families than the government's assumptions would indicate? And isn't it the case that, contrary to your statement this morning, the ALP's election advertisement made no reference whatever to compensation? Treasurer, isn't it you who is misleading the Australian public to cover up the unfairness of your GST? Isn't it the same Melbourne Institute that your tax package quotes approvingly at page 156?

Mr COSTELLO (Treasurer) —Mr Speaker, the member—

Mr SPEAKER —Treasurer, the rules that apply to the opposition front bench apply to the government front bench. I call you now.

Mr COSTELLO —Mr Speaker, the member for Hotham is now trying to defend his advertisement on the grounds that it referred to the Melbourne Institute survey. Is that right?

Mr Crean —Yes.

Mr COSTELLO —That is a funny thing. Why would you head it up `Treasury papers show'? It was not the Melbourne Institute, Westpac or anybody else; it was `Treasury papers show'. Why would you have a phrase like this on it: `Secret government figures show'? Are we now running the Melbourne Institute, are we?

Mr Crean —Yes.

Mr COSTELLO —Is that now the Treasury figures, in the Melbourne Institute? You could have gone into the paper, and you could have tried to be honest. You could have said `The Melbourne Institute says', or `The Melbourne Institute believes', or something like that. But that was not good enough for you, was it?

Mr Crean —Mr Speaker, on a point of order—

Mr SPEAKER —The Treasurer will resume his seat. The member for Hotham.

Mr COSTELLO —That was not the point you were trying to make.

Mr Crean —Mr Speaker, my point of order is this. I asked what the Melbourne Institute modelling showed, and that is what he is not addressing himself to because what that modelling shows is that they are wrong, that their whole tax package is wrong, and that is what he has to fess up to.

Mr SPEAKER —The member for Hotham will resume his seat. I call the Treasurer, and I ask him to defer from constant references to the advertisement in his hand.

Mr COSTELLO —Mr Speaker, I was asked whether or not the Melbourne Institute made that advertisement accurate. The Melbourne Institute did not make that advertisement accurate because it claims there were secret Treasury documents. When the so-called secret Treasury documents are released today, what the Australian public deserves is an apology from the Australian Labor Party for its misleading and fabricated advertisement on the eve of the election. It is as false today as it was then.

Mr Crean —You fraud.

Mr SPEAKER —The member for Hotham.