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Friday, 29 May 1987
Page: 3629


Mr GRIFFITHS —I draw the Treasurer's attention to comments made by the shadow spokesman on Treasury matters assuring the Australian people that a conservative government would introduce `new taxes'. Will the Treasurer advise the House whether this Government is considering the introduction of any tax changes in its next Budget?


Mr KEATING —The Government has made quite plain that it does not intend to introduce new taxes or increase taxes in the Budget. The only parties that are running around with new tax promises are the Liberal Party of Australia and the National Party of Australia. Interestingly, today a draft discussion paper has turned up called `Reform of the Indirect Tax System. Replacing the Wholesale Sales Tax with a Broad-based Consumption Tax' by Michael Cobb, MP, member for Parkes, National Party spokesman representing Treasury. What we find in this illuminating voluminous document is support for a broad-based consumption tax, concentrating on the advantages of a broad-based consumption tax. This is a document in support of a broad-based consumption tax that considers an 8 per cent consumption tax grossing a net $4.2 billion.

We are in this position: We have the National Party in this House in favour of a consumption tax. We have the leader of the National Party in Australia, Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen, opposed to one, and we have the Liberal Party not prepared to say what it stands for in respect of indirect taxation, but throwing into the debate, by way of leaks, a consumption tax.

We have made it quite clear that to net $8 billion, which is what the draft document released the other day from the Liberal Party is worth, would require a consumption tax of 12 per cent, which would of course have a net price effect of 6 per cent, taking our inflation rate to 15 per cent, driving household consumer prices up 15 per cent, dramatically cutting the disposable income of taxpayers and housewives in the supermarkets and, of course, blowing out our inflation rate at a time when this Government is bringing the inflation rate down.

That is part of the hidden agenda of the conservative parties in relation to consumption taxes. We have all of these conflicting remarks. The Deputy Leader of the National Party is saying: No, he will not have one. The honour- able member for Parkes, as Treasury spokesman, is saying: Yes, he is in favour of one; and the Liberal party, as usual, is lying doggo.


Mr Spender —Madam Speaker, I raise a point of order. In my submission, it is perfectly clear that what the Treasurer is doing is not relevant--


Madam SPEAKER —Could the honourable member just tell me which standing order he is seeking to invoke?


Mr Spender —Firstly, relevance again, Madam Speaker; and, secondly, he is debating the question. What he is doing now has got nothing to do with the question at all, as he knows.


Madam SPEAKER —Debating is a very grey area. The Treasurer will bring his answer to a close.


Mr KEATING —Madam Speaker, I was asked whether the Government will be introducing new taxes in the Budget. The answer is no. I was asked whether the Government would be increasing taxes in the Budget. The answer is no. I observe that the only new taxes around the place are coming from the Liberal Party and the National Party. Now we have another conflict with the National Party in the House supporting a broad-based consumption tax and the Liberal Party afraid to stick its head up and say that it is in favour of one, and the real National Party Leader saying that he will not have one. Where does the Opposition stand on tax? What is its tax agenda and when is it going to come clean with the public with a united position, saying where it stands on fiscal policy and whether the Australian work force will have another 6 per cent tax burden around its neck and on its back in the supermarkets of this country as the Opposition lifts the prices of household goods by from 9 per cent to 15 per cent? It is time the Opposition came clean with the public about where it stands about its hidden tax agenda.