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Thursday, 17 February 2000
Page: 13779

Mr SOMLYAY (2:20 PM) —My question is also to the Treasurer. Has the Treasurer seen reports that the Accor hotel group plans to increase its room charges by 10 per cent? What is the Treasurer's reaction to these reports?

Mr COSTELLO (Treasurer) —Yesterday, I was asked a question by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, who said:

In reference to his promise that nothing will rise by the full 10 per cent under the GST, is he aware that the Accor hotel group have announced that they will be increasing all of their room charges by the full 10 per cent ...

I should have taken the Prime Minister's advice when he said that one should never rely on anything that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition says, because that statement made to the House yesterday was utterly false. This afternoon, Accor Pacific has issued a press release which is headed:

Accor not to increase room charges by 10 per cent.

It reads:

Australia's largest hotel group Accor will not be raising room rates by the full 10 per cent of the GST. Analysis by the company has highlighted that some cost reduction will be able to be passed on to guests following the 1 July 2000 imposition of the GST. The Chairman said limited savings can be passed on in relation to accommodation charges. More substantial savings should be possible in the food and beverage area.

This release was put out today because the allegation was made in the House yesterday by the Deputy Leader of the Oppositionfalsely, as he always does. It prompted an ACCC inquiry, and the media release was put out in response to that ACCC inquiry. The release finishes up by saying:

Mr Baffsky said that, in the whole context of the issue, it is important to make valid comparisons between similar products. `It is not helpful to muddy the waters with ill-informed assertions.'

I wonder whom he could have been referring to when he said, `making ill-informed assertions'? This is the old technique. Every day you come in here, you make a false accusation and you get the media to run it. By the time somebody responds to it, you have made another one so that you have the media onto the false allegation of the day. If this were being done for some coherent purpose, we could understand it, but do you know what it is being done for? It is being done by a group of people who are so hotly opposed to the GST that, if they ever get elected, they are going to keep it. That is their position. This is nothing but an attempt to try to poison public debate. They have no policy. If the Leader of the Opposition wants to start writing one, the page stands blank before him. `Point 1: Labor tax policy: I irrevocably commit myself to abolishing GST.' That is all you have to do—pull out your 22 per cent wholesale sales tax biro and write it.

Mr Crean —Mr Speaker, I seek leave to table a document that predates the letter that they have just eked out of Accor. It shows the price release by Accor, with the prices going up the full 10 per cent. We got in early, brother!

Leave not granted.