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Thursday, 17 February 2000
Page: 13793

Mr HOCKEY (Minister for Financial Services and Regulation) (3:31 PM) —The member for Lilley is a hypocrite.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Nehl)—You will withdraw that statement.

Mr HOCKEY —I am sorry; the member for Lilley constantly contradicts himself. It happens to be a habit of the entire front bench of the Labor Party. On the one hand, as was enunciated in question time, the Labor Party is saying what an outrageous tax the GST is, but, `We are going to keep it.' Nicholson did a cartoon, `Kim Beazley's pathway to the future', his spending plans riding the yellow brick road, which is a GST. The bottom line is that the Labor Party is showing abject hypocrisy when it comes to taxation treatment of the community, particularly the disadvantaged community in Australia in 2000. I urge the Leader of the Opposition to heed the words of the member for Lilley enunciated in the Australian this morning. I quote:

Community affairs spokesman Wayne Swan warned that Labor might be forced to bring forward its detailed policy on the tax because of the rising political intensity of the issue...

The article further states:

Opposition finance spokesman Lindsay Tanner has warned the front bench about committing an ALP government to further rollbacks of the GST, for fear that the party will be left short of money to fund its social programs.

The first point about that is that if the shadow minister for finance were on top of his portfolio he would have worked out that all the GST funds goes to the states. The proceeds of the GST, as a growth tax in revenue, as the economy grows, go to the states, which have the growth area of expenditure, which is hospitals, schools, roads and police. The Labor Party's hypocrisy on this issue is heightened by the fact that under the Labor Party, which was not prepared to properly address Commonwealth-state financial issues, the New South Wales government and a number of other governments around Australia issued poker machine licences to fund their expenditure habits. They continued to up the ante on gambling, up the ante on land tax, up the ante on a whole lot of hideous taxes—payroll tax and a range of others—in order to fund their expenditure, which was out of control in the Labor years in state government.

Under those circumstances when the Labor Party come in here like a gaggle of hypocrites and suggest that they are going to roll back the GST and improve services to the community, it does not stack up. There has been no blow torch to the belly of the Labor Party on this. Yet it has to come. Let us take the static out of the taxation issue at the moment, often fuelled by the Labor Party and some of its mates, and look at the obvious benefits of the coalition's current taxation proposals. If we go back to 11 June 1999, we see on the front page of the Sydney Morning Herald, `GST: Why everyone's a winner. Sole parents and single income families, reap the big tax breaks.'

This is an opportunity to remind the House of just how significant the benefits of the GST are for families. The GST is going to deliver significant personal income tax cuts. It is going to deliver the abolition of wholesale sales tax and four state taxes: bed tax, stamp duty on the transfer of shares, financial institutions duty and bank account debits tax. It will deliver cheaper diesel fuel, it will deliver cheaper petrol costs for business and it will deliver cheaper exports. It is streamlining compliance. As compensation for the GST there is $2.4 billion of family assistance to around two million Australian families. There will be a four per cent increase in the pensions up front, and increased income tax thresholds for families with young children. When did the Labor Party ever care about families with young children? I will tell you when. Did they do it when they increased wholesale sales taxes from 10 per cent to 22 per cent, from 20 per cent to 22 per cent, from 30 per cent to 32 per cent, as compensation for the l-a-w tax cuts that were promised to the Australian people by Paul J. Keating in 1993? Where was the compensation, Member for Lilley? Isn't that hypocrisy from the Labor Partygoing to an election promising l-a-w tax cuts and then increasing taxes on the staples of the people most affected without any compensation whatsoever?

Isn't that hypocrisy? It is the same sort of hypocrisy that brings the Labor Party into the parliament each day yelling, `What about this? What are you doing about this?' Yet the Labor Party had a history of increasing taxes. The Labor Party says, `Well, the wholesale sales tax never affected the people—the staple food or diet and so on in their everyday life; it never really affected the battlers of Australia.' In 1985 when the Labor Party increased the wholesale sales tax on biscuits, ice-cream and other snack foods from zero per cent to 12 per cent, the battlers out there were not affected. In 1995 when the Australian Labor Party increased the wholesale sales tax on Australian fruit juice products from zero per cent to 12 per cent, did they compensate the battlers out there for that? What about muesli bars and other bars? In 1988 when they increased them from zero per cent to 22 per cent, did they compensate the battlers out there for that? The hypocrisy of the Labor Party comes through at each point. They come into this place or go on the airwaves and scream to the Australian people, `We're on your side,' while the other hand is in people's back pockets and their purses. `We are not taking away. We're with you, the battlers. We will put a token tax on the rich (and then we will tax biscuits). We will put a token tax on the rich (and then we will go and tax muesli bars). We will put a token tax on the rich (and then we will go and tax fruit juices.)' That is the Labor Party way of doing things. They tax the food the battlers of Australia eat every day but they do not tax caviar, and the Labor Party is defending this system. That is the hypocrisy we are trying to convey to the Australian people. Through all the static created about the introduction of the new tax system, the truth will come through. The truth is that the Labor Party is full of hypocrisy when it comes to income tax, when it comes to wholesale sales tax and when it comes to the GST. When it comes to a range of taxation initiatives, they have got form for being hypocrites. The proof of the pudding is in the eating.

Today I have released the first report of the ACCC about the pass-through effects of the reduction in the wholesale sales tax. This is not about holding up speculative price tags. It is not about what may occur on 1 July. It is about the issues that happened last July. It is about facts, not fiction. The proof of the pudding is in the report from the independent regulator: that prices became cheaper on goods than they would have expected. They expected the 10 per cent wholesale sales tax to pass on between a five and seven per cent reduction in prices for consumers. It flowed through at higher than that. Competition out there in the business and retail world is delivering full flow-through benefits to consumers. So the punters out there are beneficiaries. If you believe the Labor Party, only the top end of town buys videos, TVs, radios, hi-fis, CD players, clocks or watches. All the other punters and battlers out there sit around a candle at night reading Charles Dickens—that is, if you believe the Labor Party. They do not understand that the creeping and insidious taxation system that they left us left Australia in a paralysed state. It meant that the people who were going to pay for the tax were the Australian workers. They were the people who were going to pay for Labor's taxation system. So we are waiting to hear from you what your policies are. What do you want to do? It is a blank sheet of paper now. Is it going to be ever thus? How are you going to roll back?

The member for Hotham goes on Stan Zemanek's program and says to him, `The more exemptions you have the more complicated it gets.' And in another breath the member for Hotham is saying, `Roll 'em back, boys. Let's go. Heave 'em out. `Roll 'em back. Let's start rolling back the GST.' So why doesn't the member for Lilley explain what the changes are going to be and how the Labor Party is going to pay for them?

Mr HOCKEY —Oh yeah! We'll tell you all in good time! The Australian people deserve an answer now. The Australian people want answers now. They do not want to hear your hypocrisy. They do not want to hear your babble. They do not want to hear the psychobabble of the Leader of the Opposition. They want to hear facts; they want to hear reality—not the guffaw that comes out of recidivistic parliamentarians like you. They do not want to hear that. They want to hear factual policy from the Leader of the Opposition, and we are waiting to hear it too.

As we approach 1 July, every scare campaign is going to be wheeled out by the troops on the other side. They will be hoping that on 1 July the sun does not rise and Armageddon is here. If that is the case and they are putting all their eggs in that basket, they had better hope that that occurs. They had better hope that it is Armageddon and that the sun will not rise, because if it does rise all of a sudden they are going to be caught like a kangaroo in the spotlights of a truck. And do you know what? We will be driving it and we will run right over the top of them.

Mr Hardgrave —It's the surfers that are going to get done.

Mr HOCKEY —The surf will die out. `Mark Occhilupo' Beazley is not going to be able to ride his Malibu into the sand. Under those circumstances, what does the Labor Party stand for? It stands for hypocrisy. It stands for irony. It stands for ripping off the battlers of Australia. We have seen many examples of that over the last few days. What about the example of workers' entitlements? The Labor Party ran around saying, `We want you to do something for the workers,' and then they had the hypocrisy to come into this House and lambast us for doing exactly what they asked us to. `Putting the workers last' is the Labor Party motto, except if they are in a union, where they put the union officials first. The union officials always come first in the Labor Party; the workers come last. We are seeing it in Victoria under Bracks at the moment. We are seeing it in the policy development of the Labor Party and we are seeing it in the hypocrisy of the behaviour of the Labor Party in the parliament: put the workers last; put the battlers last; put ourselves first. Have all the members of the Labor Party who were born in the back of a Comcar ride up to Parliament House and rule the world. They will say, `We won't tell the battlers what to do, and they'll be right.' `She'll be right,' is an epithet that will be on your policy grave and the policy grave of the Leader of the Opposition. (Time expired)