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Tuesday, 26 August 1980
Page: 752

Mr SAINSBURY (Eden) (Monaro) - I completely agree with the honourable member for Prospect (Dr Klugman) that tax in Australia is too high. The honourable member need not have worried about saying that. However, he made a few inaccurate statements. In fact taxation in Australia is now a lower proportion of gross domestic product than it was in 1975, which is to the credit of this Government. The honourable member is confusing expenditures. The Government is trying to balance the Budget, as any good housekeeper would try to do, and of course expenditure as a proportion of GDP probably has gone up.

I have listened tonight to the debate with a great deal of interest because, as a citizen of Australia, I expected to hear some words of wisdom and some good alternatives from the person who believes himself to be the alternative leader of Australia - the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Hayden). I must say I was very disappointed that his speech contained, as it did in large part, not economic policies, not criticism of the Government based on sound reasoning, but purely vitriolic attacks on individuals. That is something we have come to understand as being part of the Leader of the Opposition's character. It was certainly not the sort of reasoned debate the Australian people want to hear in this Parliament. For that reason I imagine that tonight many people will have long since switched off their radios, disappointed people who wanted to hear an opposition with something to say, people who know that those on the front bench of the Opposition have things to say. Those people would have heard words of wisdom from the honourable member for Prospect, who is a diligent and capable front bencher, but absolute rubbish from the Leader of the Opposition. They probably now would ask how on earth Australia can have a balanced Parliament when this crowd is in Opposition. I am afraid that that is what people are saying. I am afraid also that when it comes to leadership it is not to that sort of person that the Australian people will look.

Not having heard tonight an alternative economic policy from the Leader of the Opposition, we were informed that shortly the shadow Treasurer, the honourable member for Gellibrand (Mr Willis), will bring forth an economic policy. I believe that that was projected tonight as being something that will bring a few rabbits out of the hat. We do not look for rabbits out of the hat from political parties. In the case of the Liberal Party and the National County Party, we have basic philosophies, policies we will follow if that is possible within the productive capacity of the country. On the other hand, we know that within the Australian Labor Party there are philosophies. It cannot bring rabbits out of the hat unless those rabbits are misleading. I expect that the philosophies the Labor Party has been following for about 100 years will be followed again.

If people are going to put their votes in the ballot box in the forthcoming election thinking that the Labor Party might change, I hope that those people will think again. I hope that those people who vote for the Labor Party will base that decision on philosophies that are well known. I respect the way in which those people will vote, but those philosophies will inevitably mean higher taxation. I do not think we should beat around the bush about that. Another point of view, not held by me but held by many people in this country, is that we should have higher taxation, that we should ask the working people of Australia to give more of their wealth so that it can be redistributed, so that we can have this mythical thing called equality, so that we can get stuck into all these programs that are coming out bit by bit from the Labor Party. If people want to vote in that way I respect their decision. But let us face it: Those people who vote for the Labor Party will be voting for higher taxation. It is no good Opposition members saying that the Liberal-National Country parties are parties of high taxation. The taxation we are charging people unfortunately is too high - we say that all the time - but let us not say that the Labor Party will have lower taxation. If anything, and it will admit this, it wants higher taxation. As the shadow Treasurer often says, the Opposition expects people to want to pay higher taxation to fund the programs it believes are required.

If we follow that policy of higher taxationhigher still than the taxation we have at present - we will knock the productive working man of Australia, the man who goes out, decides to work hard, and hopes that he can take home most of his pay. He is the bloke we are knocking. I am not running away from that. We in government at present are knocking him too hard, and that is why we are trying diligently to bring back the Budget to a responsible position of balance. That is the first step. We hope then to bring back taxation and revenue to a position where the working man will not feel that he is being beaten around the head every time he makes an extra dollar in overtime or his wage goes up. Surely that is the sort of country we want. It is not the sort of country the Labor Party wants. It wants to tax the working man because of lots of 'you beaut' programs, and I will discuss that further the next time 1 am able to speak in the House.

The Leader of the Opposition spoke tonight about economic growth. Economic growth is something that we depend on in order to be able to look after people, not only in this country but in other countries. He spoke of our need for an economic growth of 5 per cent per annum, and said that without that there can be no reduction in unemployment. I ask: How on earth would the Labor Party achieve that growth? The Government is trying hard enough, and it is very difficult to get an economic growth of 5 per cent per annum. It is very difficult in the context of wage restraint and monopoly restraint. It is very difficult even in the context of governments trying not to spend quite so much every year, as the Government is doing at present. I wonder how the Labor Party would achieve an economic growth of 5 per cent. With the prospect of a Labor government, a lot of people would be talking about sending their money out of the country. There is a fearful prospect, if we were to have a Labor government of people shrinking from investment. There is a prospect of people being rendered absolutely incapable, and this began to appear in the mid-1970s, of buying a house, a motor car or television set without resorting to massive loans. The Labor Party believes in taking away from the productive people and giving to the hangers-on. I hope that in the continuation of this debate I will have an opportunity to expand on what I have had to say.

Debate interrupted.

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