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Thursday, 26 March 1987
Page: 1599

Mr HOWARD (Leader of the Opposition) —Madam Speaker, could I revert to the personal explanation and then seek indulgence to say something on behalf of the Opposition about the conduct of this House?

Madam SPEAKER —I call the Leader of the Opposition on a personal explanation.

Mr HOWARD —Madam Speaker, throughout the last few weeks both the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) and the Treasurer (Mr Keating) have claimed, in my submission, dishonestly-and I would hope that that would not be ruled out of order-and in our submission quite maliciously and quite deliberately, that the Opposition's policies would add $16 billion to the Federal Budget deficit. That particular statement, to use the language of the Treasurer and the Prime Minister, contains a credibility gap of $15.2 billion because the only precise commitments of the Opposition which carry a quantifiable cost are those which were outlined-I have said this repeatedly-in the reply that I gave to the Budget Speech last year. They are the commitments to abolish the fringe benefits tax, the capital gains tax and lump sum superannuation tax. I have also said--

Madam SPEAKER —Could I just point out to the Leader of the Opposition now that he has shown the House where he has been personally misrepresented and--

Mr HOWARD —Oh, with the greatest respect, Madam--

Madam SPEAKER —and I do not expect that the Leader of the Opposition will now debate the issue.

Mr HOWARD —I have not even mentioned--

Madam SPEAKER —You are debating the issue.

Mr HOWARD —I am--

Madam SPEAKER —If you do not mind, I am speaking. The issue is that you claim that you have been misrepresented on the $16 billion or $16m, I am not quite sure--

Mr HOWARD —Sixteen billion; let us be generous.

Madam SPEAKER —You have now pointed out that the Treasurer and the Prime Minister are incorrect in what they state. Do you now wish to continue to give all the figures?

Mr HOWARD —I would have thought that if I gave the figures indicating where they are wrong--

Madam SPEAKER —If you give the figures you are debating the issue; that is obvious.

Mr HOWARD —Oh really!

Mr Porter —He is explaining where--

Madam SPEAKER —Of course he is explaining and he is debating.

Mr HOWARD —Oh, really! So in other words that can happen over and over and over again. The fact of the matter is that I have been misrepresented to the extent that the relevant figure is $800m and the Prime Minister and the Treasurer are misleading this country to the tune of $15.2 billion.

Madam SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member will resume his seat.