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Monday, 10 April 2000
Page: 15561

Mr BEAZLEY (3:04 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister. It follows the two that I have asked previously. Given that you have conceded that your $12 per fortnight for John and Wendy is before the GST impact, will you reiterate your promise that no Australian will be worse off under your GST package?

Mr HOWARD (Prime Minister) —I haven't conceded anything. What I have done is to indicate that, as with all hypothetical questions of this kind asked by the Leader of the Opposition, I will have it analysed and come back. But as to the broader question asked, it is the belief of the government that Australians will be better off as a result of our taxation package. Of equal importance, the Australian community will be better off as a result of taxation reform. The Australian community will be much better off, but individual Australians will be significantly better off. Seeing that we have been asked questions about a whole range of families by the Leader of the Opposition—not just John and Wendy, but also many other families—I just happen to have in my possession some tables prepared by Access Economics and also by Ann Harding, who is an academic, I think, at the Australian National University and someone who on occasions is quoted with great approval by the member for Jagajaga. The member for Jagajaga thinks Ann Harding is pretty good.

Mr HOWARD —I thank the member for Jagajaga. Ann Harding, for example, goes through different income ranges. After allowing a cost of living adjustment for the GST, according to Ann Harding—not according to the Treasury but according to Ann Harding—a single income couple with two children on $35,000 a year will be $61.76 a week better off. That is Ann Harding—not John Howard, not Peter Costello, not Michael Carmody, but Ann Harding—the mention of whose name brings a furious nod of approval from the member for Jagajaga. But in case anybody thinks that we are relying exclusively on Ann Harding in relation to the two income points, if we take the same family and the same income points, according to Access Economics the amounts in question are $62.28 and $59.27 a week. This is a great tax package for middle Australia. It is a great tax package for John and Wendy. It is a great tax package for the entire Australian community. I think the Australian community is increasingly looking forward to the introduction of the taxation package. I am looking forward to its introduction. I want all of those people who sit opposite to understand that every day that goes by between now and 1 July brings closer the introduction of the greatest single improvement to the Australian taxation system since World War II.

When that new scheme comes in and after people have absorbed the benefits, they will realise that for 80 per cent of them all that is going to be involved is the fact that some of the things they buy will be a little dearer.

Opposition members interjecting

Mr HOWARD —They will! But the bad news for you is that a lot of things will be a little cheaper as well, and you will be very, very, very upset about that. I know you will go in there and there you will see the member for Hotham and the Leader of the Opposition with long faces outside the supermarket.

Mr Costello —They will be ringing into the talkbacks.

Mr HOWARD —Yes, they will have their mates ringing into the talkbacks saying, `I went down to Woolies today,' et cetera. But the great bulk of the Australian public will find a few things go up, a few things go down and a great number of items will stay the same. Australians will be better off because they will have tax cuts. The more you try and scare people with all this negative talk, the more contempt they will have for you after 1 July, because their memory of your contribution to this debate will be that you spent two years trying to prevent them from getting something that will make them better off.