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Wednesday, 11 November 1998
Page: 111

Mr CREAN —My question is directed to the Prime Minister. Does the Prime Minister recall stating at the annual dinner of Australian Business Ltd:

We were up-front, we were unashamed, we were forthright, we were open, we were honest, and we didn't hide anything about it.

Mr Howard —Yes.

Mr CREAN —You remember that, Prime Minister. Prime Minister, if you didn't hide anything about it, why did your tax review chairman, David Vos, say today:

Not all of the policy has been revealed by the government.

Prime Minister, why didn't you reveal all of the information to the Australian public? What have you got to hide?

Mr HOWARD (Prime Minister) —I do remember that speech. I remember it very well. I also re member the very warm reception I received from 1,200 business men and women, who were very pleased to see that the government had been returned and that once again the coalition was in charge of the economic and political affairs of the Australian nation.

When I made those remarks, I had in mind a comparison that caught my fancy and passed through my mind before I got up to speak. That was the comparison between our candour in 1998 and their deceit in 1993. We all remember that in 1993 they promised tax cuts, they campaigned against a goods and services tax—

Mr Crean —Mr Speaker—

Mr SPEAKER —The Prime Minister will resume his seat. Has the honourable member for Hotham a point of order?

Mr Crean —On a point of order, Mr Speaker, this is the Prime Minister contradicted by a person he appoints. This has got nothing to do with the comparison that he wants to go back to.

Mr SPEAKER —The honourable member will resume his seat. That is not a point of order.

Mr HOWARD —I was put in mind of that comparison—of how in 1993 they campaigned against a GST and they promised tax cuts, and when they won the election they did neither. When they won the election, they put up every indirect tax they could lay their hands on. By comparison, if you go back over every election that has been held in this country since World War II, there would not have been an election where any government had been more open, more honest, more candid, more forthright and more explicit about a fundamental measure of economic reform. And it is to the great credit of the coalition that it had the courage, the honesty and the guts to say what was needed for the future of the Australian economy. I remain immensely proud of the fact that we did that and even more proud of the fact that we were able to win the support of the Australian people.