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Wednesday, 11 May 1994
Page: 629


Senator ALSTON —My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. How on earth could the Treasurer have the gall last night to proclaim that the budget contains no increase in tax when it contains a massive $8 billion rise in the tax take, including rises of $4 billion in personal tax, $1 billion in sales tax, $1.8 billion in FBT, and, partly as a result of an indexed rate increase from 1 August, $1 billion in petrol tax? If $8 billion is not a mega-increase, could the minister please explain the meaning of the term? Is this not really yet another massive broken promise?


Senator GARETH EVANS —One often has to wonder about Senator Alston and which particular planet he occupies when it comes to these sorts of discussions. There are no new taxes in this particular budget. There are no tax rate increases in this particular budget. There were some in the last budget. Some of those are taking effect now. We all know that. The press gallery knows that. The community knows that. The business community knows that. Senator Alston seems to have been the last to have caught up with the information. There are no new taxes and no tax increases in this particular budget.


Senator ALSTON —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Is the minister seriously suggesting that there is no difference between an increase in tax and a change in tax rates? If he is, then words mean nothing—unless, of course, he is deliberately intending to mislead the unwary. Why, therefore, did he not explain that in the budget statement and talk in terms of increases in tax rates rather than trying to dishonestly pretend that there was nothing like an $8 billion increase in tax revenue?


Senator GARETH EVANS —There are no tax rate increases in this particular budget. There are no tax rate increases. There are no new taxes. There are no tax rate increases. I do not know which particular planet Senator Alston is occupying. Those opposite cannot have it every which way. They cannot argue—as they want to, through their shadow spokesman—for new expenditures on a whole range of fronts, at the same time having a $3 billion reduction and at the same time arguing for no tax increases. They are the ones who beggar credibility in every public statement that they have made. There is nothing lacking in credibility in anything we have said; only a massive lack of understanding of what is actually there.