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Tuesday, 29 August 2000
Page: 19505

Mr CREAN (2:13 PM) —My question is directed to the Prime Minister, and I refer to his previous answer on the Yellow Pages Small Business Index survey. Prime Minister, is this the same survey that says expectations of profitability and sales are the second lowest on record? Is it the same survey that says that expectations of capital expenditure are the lowest on record? Is it the same survey that says that 65 per cent of small businesses think you are going to put the GST rate up? Is it the same survey that says that average price increases from the GST were seven per cent, with almost half the businesses increasing their prices by the full 10 per cent or more? Is it the same survey that says that 72 per cent of businesses see the GST as increasing their compliance costs? Or, is your failure to mention it just part of the—

Mr Ross Cameron —Mr Speaker, I rise—

Opposition members interjecting—

Mr SPEAKER —There is something remarkably inconsistent about those who insist on interjecting on someone who proposes a point of order when it has in fact been their anticipation that their point of order would be heard in silence. The member for Parramatta on a point of order, I presume.

Mr Ross Cameron —Mr Speaker, the questions are argumentative and suggest an answer.

Mr SPEAKER —The member for Parramatta would have noted that I interrupted the Deputy Leader of the Opposition because I felt that the questions had been repetitious. I will allow the Deputy Leader of the Opposition's question to stand. It was longer than I would consider desirable.

Mr HOWARD (Prime Minister) —Through you, Mr Speaker: I would have thought that, after the disappointing experience you had in relation to your attempts to talk the Australian economy down regarding the introduction of the new taxation system, you may have learned something. You may have learned that occasionally the Australian people appreciate both of their major political parties talking optimistically about this country's future. But in the lead-up to the introduction of the new taxation system you deliberately set about trying to instil fear and concern in the minds of the Australian community.

The totality of that survey indicates very clearly that, compared with the previous survey, there has been a huge turnaround in the attitude of the small business community. The one defining event that has occurred between the last survey and this survey is the introduction of the new tax system. That turnaround can only be attributed to the fact that the new tax system has been received far more optimistically than the Labor Party hoped would be the case. It has been received very optimistically, and in those circumstances I can only say again to those who sit opposite: your negative, destructive, carping tactics have again failed, as they will in relation to the other reforms that will be introduced by the government during the remainder of this term.

Mr Crean —Mr Speaker, I seek leave to table the survey so that the full picture is known, not just the gloss of the Prime Minister.

Leave not granted.