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Wednesday, 15 March 2000
Page: 12834


Senator HARRIS (2:32 PM) —My question is to the senator representing the Treasurer. Will the government exempt the unjust GST levy on strata title unit holders payable on the transfer of their quarterly body corporate administration and sinking fund units payments? Senator, 75 per cent of the outgoings from those funds are GST exempt. Will the government continue to be a party to this unjust, undemocratic, discriminatory, Sheriff of Nottingham type legislation?


Senator KEMP (Assistant Treasurer) —The underlying assumption in the question is totally wrong. This is a very fair system that we are bringing in. I have no doubt that, when you talk about the overall tax cuts, which I have mentioned—and we are not sure what the Labor Party policy is on tax cuts; we know that Senator Cook's policy is that the Labor Party is a high tax party—


Senator Cook —That's not true.


Senator KEMP —Senator Cook, that is your third most famous quote, that the Labor Party is a high tax party. I am prepared to stand up later on and dig out the exact quote for you, Senator, if you want me to do that.

Let me just discuss the fairness of the system. The point I am making is that, as a result of this overall package, the Australian people are going to be substantially better off. Senator Harris should be mindful of the fact that we are delivering the largest tax cuts in Australian history. We are delivering real rises in pensions and benefits.

Whatever issue you wish to raise, Senator, you have to look at the whole equation. You should be aware that the people in units and flats and people who own their own homes and so forth are going to benefit very substantially from these changes. So it is wrong for you to say it is unfair. This is a fair system and, above all, it will deliver very real benefits to the Australian people.

I have mentioned the tax cuts. I have mentioned in previous answers the very substantial benefits which are flowing to Australian families. I have mentioned the real rise in pensions and benefits, Senator. I would make the point that, when you are speaking to these people, you have to check whether in fact they will register their corporate body or not, because there will be changes if they are registered or not registered. This will deliver very real benefits to the Australian people, and I think that is the message you should give to them.


Senator HARRIS —Madam President, I ask a supplementary question. Senator, where is the fairness? In their 1999-2000 budget, there is a $594 GST component on a gross figure of $27,524. When that is broken down into the quarterly payments that are made of $404.77, it is then exposed to another GST payment of $40.48. Will the minister follow the suggestion of the members of those particular units and either remove the GST from the quarterly payments or allow the unit holders to claim a full tax rebate for the entire amount?


Senator KEMP (Assistant Treasurer) —I think the senator is faced with what can only be described as overenthusiastic research staff. I take all questions in this chamber seriously, with the sole exception of those from the Labor Party. If you want that sort of detailed reply to a question, it is sometimes of assistance to give us a hint that you may be asking that so we can look very closely at the figures that you have prepared, Senator. If you would like to send me those figures, we can work out exactly what you are driving at and we will see if we can provide you with an answer.