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Monday, 17 August 2009
Page: 7965

Mr HOCKEY (2:20 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Finance and Deregulation. I refer the minister to his previous statement on taxing the family home. He said:

We should focus on the real issues of tax reform. Overinvestment in housing, which has been chronic in this country, has been contributed to by favourable treatment in the tax system. We should abolish negative gearing and modify the capital gains tax exemption by, for example, applying that exemption only to the unimproved value of houses purchased.

Minister, do you stand by those comments?

Mr TANNER (Minister for Finance and Deregulation) —I am glad that the member for North Sydney is spending so much time trawling through statements that were made 15 years ago. It is good that he is discovering some hard work habits, which do not, unfortunately, reveal themselves in other contributions that he makes to public debate. The member for North Sydney is the Billy Brownless of Australian politics, all joviality and jokes and buffoonery, but you would not put him in charge of anything. You would not actually put him in charge of anything serious, any responsibility.

Honourable members interjecting—

The SPEAKER —Order! Has the minister concluded? No?

Mr Tuckey —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I refer you to standing orders 86 and 87. A question was asked in the public interest and there are no grounds for using a disorderly response and one of personal insult. I request that you ask the Minister for Finance and Deregulation to say yes or no to the question on his previous statement.

The SPEAKER —The member for O’Connor will resume his seat. He knows that I cannot request the minister to answer in any form other than the way that he chooses to answer. The minister will respond to the question.

Mr Tuckey —Mr Speaker, I rise on a further point of order. You have the power to ask a minister to resume their seat.

The SPEAKER —Order! That was not the request contained in your urgings to me—which were to ask him to answer yes or no. The minister will respond to the question.

Mr TANNER —If we go through the history, most of us in this place have said some things in the past that we may not necessarily stand by now. I remember in fact the member for O’Connor admitting to lying on TV. And in fact the Leader of the Opposition used to be a republican. So, Mr Speaker, whatever the views I expressed as an eager young backbencher 15 years ago on these issues, I stand by the government’s position on the matters that the member for North Sydney has put forward. The government is reviewing all aspects of the taxation system in order to present a modernisation of the Australian taxation system to take our economy forward. If this is the best that the opposition can do in its economic assault on the government, we are going to sleep very easy tonight.