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Wednesday, 27 March 1985
Page: 968


Mr KEATING (Treasurer)(10.43) —The people I regard as a lot of arrogant mugs are the Opposition parties in this Parliament. Let us get that clear. The honourable member for Bennelong (Mr Howard) stood up at the election campaign and said: 'What the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) and the Treasurer (Mr Keating) want from this country in this election campaign is a blank cheque on taxation policy'. That is what he said we wanted and in fact that is what we were able to secure.


Mr Spender —I raise a point of order. Is the Treasurer closing the debate?


The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Mountford) -No, he is not.


Mr Spender —I am very glad to hear that.


Mr KEATING —That is what he said: 'What the Treasurer and the Prime Minister want in this election campaign is a blank cheque on tax reform'. He used every trick in the book to close off the tax options for tax reform, for a genuine tax debate in this country. He tried to close off all of the options. He knows where he stands on capital gains taxes. I know where he personally stands on the capital gains taxes.


Mr Howard —Tell me more about myself.


Mr KEATING —He stands in favour of them, but he stood up in the election campaign and mealy-mouthed this Party for daring to suggest that that remain an open issue. He said: 'The Prime Minister and the Treasurer really want a blank cheque on tax reform in this country'. Our position is quite clear. Both the Prime Minister and I have said on tax reform in this country that there must be broad community support for it. We made that one of the nine principles in the tax statement we published. The Prime Minister has reiterated that point of view at least twice in the last week. When that summit process is over, when the Government brings in that package, that is when we have a blank cheque in this Parliament to pass it. We will crush the Opposition if it tries to oppose it. We will crush the Opposition with the public of Australia if it stands in its opportunist way against meaningful tax reform in this country.

The Government has a mandate for meaningful tax reform. The blank cheque is the blank cheque in this Parliament post-summit. The honourable member understands that that is the position. If the honourable member thinks he can stand up here in this Parliament, the Opposition having lost the election on one of the principle issues of taxation, and say that the coalition has a mandate to oppose and to be obstreperous with this tax reform package, he will be quite wrong and public opinion will come down very harshly on him. Let us be quite clear: The Opposition said of us that we want a blank cheque. It was right. We wanted an open debate on tax reform. We got that right. It cost us seats to get that right by not closing off the tax options. I guarantee members of the Opposition that we will enforce that right in this Parliament, so they can cut the caper, the comedy, the laughs, the guffawing and the stupidity. The Opposition when in government could not get any of this legislation through. We will get it through. When the summit is over, when we have tested public opinion and when we have sought to get consensus on this issue, whatever is on the cheque post-summit is the price that the Opposition will pay. If the honourable member stands in the way he will wipe his Party and himself out.