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Thursday, 17 February 2000
Page: 13787

Mr BEAZLEY (3:04 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister. Prime Minister, have you instructed the Minister for Community Services to stop informing residents in his electorate that there is still hope for a change to the GST treatment of caravan parks and mobile homes, and have you instructed the Minister for Trade to stop informing caravan park and mobile home residents in his electorate that permanent residents will not have to pay GST on their site fees and that they are GST free?

Mr HOWARD (Prime Minister) —Mr Speaker, I would perhaps rhetorically ask: have you instructed the Deputy Leader of the Opposition to stop promising to roll back the GST when you know that that will do such enormous damage to government schools and to government hospitals? As far as my communications with ministers are concerned, they are friendly, open, always informative and always valuable in the public interest. I do not instruct ministers; I provide them with advice. Being commonsense men and women, they respond to that advice in a very intelligent fashion.

The last time we had a frontbench meeting about the GST, we did not argue, the way they did over there, about whether it should be rolled back. The last time we had a meeting about taxation reform, we all agreed on a number of things. The first thing we agreed on was that we were not going to allow a dishonest fear campaign by the Australian Labor Party to deny the Australian people the greatest tax reform since World War II. The second thing we agreed on was to remind the Australian people that, come the introduction of tax reform, average families would be $47 a week better off. We also resolved to remind the Australian people—the state premiers do not need any reminding of this—that the GST will mean a guarantee of rising revenues for the states in the years ahead and therefore more money for schools, more money for hospitals and more money for police.

That is why David Hamill is petrified at the prospect of the GST being rolled back. What David Hamill was really saying in that letter was that the Labor Party should have supported the original package without exception. What he was really saying was that it was a great pity that the government had to compromise with the Democrats. There is one party that could have saved that compromise, Mr Speaker, and oddly enough it is the party of David Hamill.

Ms Hall —Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order and it goes to relevance. The Prime Minister is in no way referring to the misleading information that the ministers have given to people living—

Mr SPEAKER —The Prime Minister was asked a question about the role of two of his ministers and their comments about the GST, and he was commenting on the GST. I believe he dealt with the question of the two ministers but he may have something further to add.

Mr HOWARD —Mr Speaker, when we last discussed this matter we resolved to communicate those benefits to the Australian people. One of those is the evident benefit to the states of Australia of the GST. Whatever you may think about other aspects of it—and there will be debate—it is simply absolutely uncontestable that the states will be better off under the GST. Therefore, there will be more money for public schools, more money for police, more money for roads and more money for public hospitals. The premiers know that, the state treasurers know it, and Wayne Swan, Lindsay Tanner and Michael Lee know it. That is why they are growing increasingly unhappy with the idea of rolling it back, because if you roll it back you are taking money back from the states and you are taking it away from government schools. I was out at a magnificent government school in Chapman this morning. I would not have thought that the Labor Party wanted to take money away from government schools, but that is essentially what they are on about.

Mr Speaker, I ask that further questions be placed on the Notice Paper.