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Thursday, 23 September 1999
Page: 10401

Mr CREAN —My question is to the Treasurer. I ask whether the Treasurer has seen, in today's Financial Review —that is, if he has got past page 1—comments by Access Economics' Commonwealth budget expert, Mr Graham Matthews, on the business tax package, which state:

They have used risky assumptions . . . that look a bit rubbery. They might be right, but the normal conservative Treasury approach has not been used.

Treasurer, is it not true that if these assumptions are not realised your funding gap will be even larger? Will you release the full costings of your business tax package?

Mr COSTELLO (Treasurer) —The full costings are in an 800-page report. There is no great secret about them. Since the release of the report, you have been able to look it up and find it out. If you open up the book, the costings are all there in the tables. We have taken them from the tables that were put to us by the Ralph review. Not only that, but we have actually accepted the recommendations of the Ralph review in all key areas, including in relation to capital gains tax and the assumptions that underpin them. As I said earlier, we have announced changes to capital gains tax that apply from 30 September. From next week people will be making decisions based on the new taxation system.

What is the Labor Party going to be doing about that? Is it going to be trying to create an area of uncertainty so that people who are trading next week have to run the gauntlet of Labor Party oppositionism? Or will the Labor Party, as I thought it was going to do on Monday night, come along and say, `We accept this decision. It is a good decision. This is a great reform of business taxation and we support it,' so that people have certainty? That is a critical choice. The lead that has been given to you is the lead of Mr Michael Egan. He gave the Commonwealth government somewhere between a credit and a distinction in relation to business taxation.

What is the Labor Party waiting for? Here you have an opportunity to be relevant to the tax debate, to endorse the government's decision and to get on with capital gains tax. All we say is: let us do it before next Monday because then people will be able to get on, make their decisions accordingly and take the benefits of a great new taxation system.