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Monday, 6 December 1999
Page: 12901

Mr HORNE (10:34 PM) —It was interesting to listen to the Prime Minister and the Treasurer in question time today trying to justify their never, ever tax—the tax that Australians voted against at the last election but the tax they are going to get: the GST. Try as they might, this government will not dispel the rising wrath against the GST. As we approach 1 July of next year, the incidence of the GST appearing on accounts for such things as insurance policies or any contract is going to increase, and people resent that component.

I spoke on this matter just two weeks ago. I challenged the Minister for Forestry and Conservation, the Hon. Wilson Tuckey, to explain just how the GST will affect livestock sales. He declined of course, but then he put out a press release in my electorate to simpli fy the matter and explain the issue. The media statement that he put out reads:

"The position is that vendors can advise the auctioneer how they want their livestock sold, either GST-exclusive (meaning the GST is added to the final bid) or GST-inclusive (meaning the final bid includes GST).

"Auctioneers will have the right to state their preference on this regard, however vendors will then clearly have a choice of auctioneer," Mr Tuckey said.

That is very interesting. What the minister did not tell us is that there is, of course, another category. In the Hunter and in many coastal regions, there are a large number of hobby farmers in particular, and people do not sell $50,000 worth of livestock a year. They will have the choice of registering for GST or not. So there is going to be a category of livestock that will come onto the market for which GST is not payable.

What chaos, what pandemonium and what an utterly ridiculous situation will exist at any livestock sale after 1 July next year. People will have no idea what they are buying, what they are paying for or whether GST is included or not. That is the state that this government has got one of our largest industries into. It is impossible for a minister of this government to put out a media statement to clarify the situation. All he has done is confuse the issue more.

Another point the Treasurer has tried to make over recent weeks is about the great Australian dream: the Australian home. According to him, it is going to get cheaper. He seems to think that there is a wholesale sales tax on the goods that go into a home. Actually, very few items that go into the building of a home attract the wholesale sales tax. But the Treasurer dismisses it quietly by saying, `But, of course, we're going to give a first home owners grant.' He also takes great pride in the fact that he says, `Interest rates are at a historic low.'

A study done by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute at the RMIT, called Falling out of home ownership: mortgage arrears and defaults in Australia, shows that the default on mortgages is at a record high. Why is it at a record high? It is at a record high because of job insecurity, because of marriage break-up, because of aggressive marketing of loans and because people are going out and incorporating car, boat and all other sorts of loans in their mortgage. The point is that, under the Howard-Costello government, more people are defaulting on housing loans than ever before.

This government can stand up and crow all it likes about how strong the Australian economy is but studies such as this one that I have just quoted indicate that the workers out there in Australia are doing it tough. It is about time this government recognised the hardship it is forcing onto the workers of Australia.