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Wednesday, 8 May 1985
Page: 1526

Senator JACK EVANS —My question is directed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Is the tax summit still intended to provide an opportunity for the representatives of various interest groups to contribute to the decision making processes of tax reform plans? If so, how flexible will the Government be on its White Paper on tax reform following the tax summit? Is the Treasurer still willing to consider major changes to the so-called Keating package of tax reforms purported in this morning's Sydney Morning Herald newspaper to be the Government's present position?

Senator WALSH —The tax summit will include representatives of various groups. Of course, as I am sure Senator Evans realises, there is a physical limit as well as other limits as to how many groups can be accommodated at such a meeting. I understand that Senator Evans's Party is to be represented. I understand that the Opposition, although invited, will not be represented. Ultimately, the decisions have to be taken in the Parliament and not by any representative though non-elected group. As for the Keating package, as Senator Evans dubbed it, referred to in the Sydney Morning Herald this morning, evidently Senator Evans was not in the chamber at the beginning of Question Time because that so-called package, reported in the Sydney Morning Herald, is riddled with error. I do not propose to specify where it is erroneous and where it is not, but it is riddled with error.

Senator JACK EVANS —I ask a supplementary question. How can the Government justify the cost of the tax summit, both in dollar terms and in loss of confidence of the participants in this Government, if the tax summit simply evolves as a hard sell operation by the Government of decisions that were taken long before the summit commenced?

Senator WALSH —Senator Evans, in those last few words, grossly misrepresented the facts, of course. It is not a hard sell operation for decisions taken long ago. The views expressed there will be taken into account, but the ultimate responsibility for taxation law proposals rests with the Government. Whether they get through the Parliament is, regretfully, a matter which might be decided here, partly by people who are responsible now, partly by people who might at least be expected to be responsible at some time in the future and partly, regrettably, by people in the Party that Senator Evans represents who have to accept no responsibility now and will never have to accept any responsibility in the future.