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Thursday, 23 August 1984
Page: 263

Senator WALSH (Minister for Resources and Energy) —by leave-The first observation that one could make, I suppose, would be that the former Treasurer has said, in effect, that if he were in government he would pursue a policy that he believes is not economically responsible and that he would, in fact, reduce taxes instead of reducing the deficit. At least that is my interpretation of what Senator Chaney has said. But, more importantly, rather than giving this facile and irresponsible excuse, which is typical of members of the Opposition, that they would solve all deficit problems by reducing expenditure, I challenge them to detail the areas in which they would reduce expenditure. I also invite them to explain how they would reduce the deficit while simultaneously honouring all these commitments given by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Chaney) in the last few weeks.

He says, amongst other things, that he will scrap this Government's superannuation tax arrangements, thereby losing revenue and increasing the deficit. He said he will oppose the reintroduction of an income test for the over-70s, thereby increasing expenditure. He will oppose an assets test, thereby increasing expenditure and increasing the deficit. He attacked the Government for removing the inequitable subsidy for wealthy home buyers which was an across the board interest rate subsidy, thereby reducing revenues and increasing the deficit. He promises to increase the investment allowance to 20 per cent, thereby reducing tax revenues and increasing the deficit. He promises to reintroduce a tax rebate for dividends, presumably exemption of the first $1, 000m for dividend income from personal income tax at a cost of about $100m a year; reductions in revenue and increases in the deficit. He promises to recreate a bicentennial water resources program presumably to grovel before the cargo cultists, again increasing expenditure and the deficit. He promises to build a railway to Darwin, about a $600m over a two-year or three-year period increase in expenditure and increase in the deficit, other things being equal. He promises to abolish the new wine tax at a cost to revenue of at least $60m, thereby increasing the deficit by that order of magnitude. He promises to abolish the new oil levy, thereby reducing revenue and increasing the expenditure by the order of $300m. I invite the Opposition to explain away all those contradictions.