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Tuesday, 29 November 1983
Page: 2949

Mr RONALD EDWARDS —Has the Treasurer's attention been drawn to the taxation policies of the Liberal Party of Australia, as set out by the Leader of the Opposition last Thursday? What effect would these policies have on the Budget and budgetary policies and what would be the revenue cost of the Liberal Party measures?

Mr KEATING —My attention has been drawn to a speech made by the Leader of the Opposition-I have a copy of it with me-to the Kooyong electorate on 24 November 1983, talking about the policies of the Liberal Party. Essentially this document reveals-it is a very revealing document-that the Leader of the Opposition believes in lower levels of taxation, no expansion in the Budget deficit, but no reduction in public services. As we read through the document we find that the policy of the Leader of the Opposition in respect of the fiscal area basically revolves around the question of reducing administrative costs. This very revealing speech is essentially an attack upon the Public Service. The document stated:

The chief problem in controlling public expenditure is not that public opinion is opposed to cuts but that the public service tends all too often to manipulate them so as to pass all cuts to the consumer rather than absorb them within the gigantically inflated administrative system.

Who was running the supposedly gigantically inflated administrative system if it was not the Government of which the Leader of the Opposition was a member in the years of Mr Fraser's leadership? This once again is another cowardly attack on the Public Service. As one reads through this speech one finds that the Leader of the Opposition says he is opposed to the assets test. He argues that no one on average weekly earnings should be caught in the 46c area of taxation. He is opposed to Labor's lump sum taxation arrangements. He says that Labor has reduced the tax threshold for children and that it has made a vicious attack upon the elderly. It has attacked farmers, he says. It has increased excises. He is opposed to the prescribed payments system and he also says that Labor will tax people's health. He talks about the destruction of morale in the defence forces. He is opposed to the removal of the first $1,000 of dividend income. He is opposed to the removal of the home loan interest rebate. When one looks at implementing the Leader of the Opposition's objections, this year the cost in respect of the Budget would be about $1.6 billion, and in a full year it would be about $3 billion.

I would like to know, and I think other people would like to know, just how the Leader of the Opposition, who believes in minimising Budget deficits and who is also ostensibly concerned about the pick-up in private investment, the problems of crowding out and recovery, the problems of financing a high level of public sector debt and large Budget deficits, equates all of these things. How does he equate this tremendous explosion in what would be the structural component of the Budget deficit with these objections to our policies which are synonymous with growth in the economy? It is about time he told us, because he is running around the country attacking the Government, but without putting one proposal into place. Let me say this: If the Leader of the Opposition and his Party think that business is in the slightest way impressed by this poor opportunistic approach which he adopts, let me assure the honourable member that business can see right through him for the phoney which he is.

In the 14 years in which I have been in this Parliament I have never heard the present member for Kooyong speak about the domestic economy. It is as if it never existed in all the years I have been here. All of a sudden he has discovered the domestic economy. He is opposed to change in taxes; he is against all of the reforms the Labor Government has brought in in respect of the structural deficit. He is opposed to high Budget deficits. He is for growth. He is opposed to high interest rates. That speech reveals that the Leader of the Opposition's policies are a sham. They would not stand up to any scrutiny. I want him to tell this Parliament how he believes he will make up the shortfall of $1.6 billion for the rest of the financial year and how he will in a full year make up the $3 billion shortfall which would be the consequence of his policies. Unless he says that, we can put the appropriate weight on the nonsensical views expressed in his speech last weekend in Melbourne.