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Tuesday, 29 August 2000
Page: 19507

Mr MARTIN FERGUSON (2:24 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Transport and Regional Services and Deputy Prime Minister. Deputy Prime Minister, can you confirm that a litre of petrol bought in Sydney at today's price includes 46.9c in tax? Deputy Prime Minister, can you also confirm that the same litre of petrol bought at Nyngan today, even after the rebate, includes 47.7c in tax? Deputy Prime Minister, why are Nyngan motorists paying more tax on their petrol than Sydney motorists?

Mr ANDERSON (Deputy Prime Minister) —I thank the honourable member for Batman for his question. The first point I note is that the member for Batman is plainly in every way in favour not of cheaper fuel but of more expensive fuel. We know that. The Labor Party want to abolish the $500 million that we put in to reduce the country-city differential. We know that.

Opposition members interjecting

Mr ANDERSON —Oh, that is simply a lie? Well, let us see a pronouncement from the Labor Party that they support our tax reductions on fuel. Let us see for the first time—because we have not seen it to date—that they have actually repudiated their view that our reductions on fuel excise are nothing more than a boost to pollution.

Mr ANDERSON —The Leader of the Opposition has forgotten that that is the member for Dickson's position, and it has never been repudiated.

Mr Beazley —What are you talking about?

Mr ANDERSON —It is quite simple: the member for Dickson's proposition that the reductions in fuel excise that we have put in place are a multibillion dollar boost to pollution. The other general issue that has to be clearly established is that, if there is anyone in this place, if there is anyone in Australia—and there are not many of them—who is hoping that prices for fuel stay high, it is the ALP. If there is anyone who is hoping that the high price of crude remains a difficulty it is the ALP.

Mr Martin Ferguson —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order which goes to a question of relevance. It was a very simple question: why are motorists in Nyngan paying more tax on petrol than motorists in Sydney? It is about time we got an answer, rather than the irrelevant wandering around Australia.

Mr SPEAKER —The member for Batman has raised the point of order and will resume his seat. There is no way that I, as occupier of the chair—or any of my predecessors—would have ruled the Deputy Prime Minister's answer as anything other than relevant to the question.

Mr ANDERSON —I refer to the comment I made earlier. In terms of the percentage of excise paid, for every dollar spent on fuel in this country on an average basis, in New South Wales in March 1996 it was 58.6 per cent and in August this year under us it is 47.2 per cent. Whether it was the extra $2.2 billion or $2.3 billion that the Labor Party want them to pay in excise on transport fuel, whether it is the $500 million or whether it is the GST rebate on business petrol, the simple reality is that, if people wanted to pay more for petrol in rural and regional Australia, they would do something that I do not believe they intend doing in a million years, and that is vote Labor.