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Monday, 29 May 2000
Page: 16391

Mr PYNE (1:17 PM) —It is good to see the member for Kingston finally showing some interest in this debate and coming into the House. Even though we are halfway through the debate, no doubt he will have his excuses. But we and the people of South Australia well recognise his lack of interest in getting into the House for this very important debate. The member for Chisholm said that she was delighted to be speaking in this debate, but I must admit that I thought she would have been embarrassed to be speaking in this debate because today we will find out the duplicity of the Labor Party's position on the automotive industry. In their contributions, the member for Kingston and the member for Chisholm talked about a buyers strike. As my colleague the member for Boothby pointed out, the talk about a buyers strike is simply driving down the industry, simply talking down the automotive industry and talking down the economy and harming the very people that those opposite, Uriah Heep like, try to claim they speak for.

Let us be very clear about the ALP policy on cars and on taxes at the last election vis-a-vis the coalition's policy. At the last election, the ALP argued that there should be a 22 per cent tax on cars and a 22 per cent tax on the export of cars overseas. So their policy was a 22 per cent tax on the automotive industry. Our policy, and what we are bringing in on 1 July, is a 10 per cent tax on the automotive industry and a zero per cent tax on exports. The ALP support a wholesale sales tax system that replicates those of Botswana and Swaziland. They support a system that increases the price of cars by over one-fifth. They support a system that disadvantages our exporters. They support a system that particularly disadvantages South Australia as a state that relies heavily on manufacturing industries, a state where 15.7 per cent of its gross state product is earned from the automotive industry. As the member for Boothby so rightly pointed out in his motion, the wholesale sales tax falls disproportionately on states like South Australia and Victoria because of their heavy reliance on the manufacturing industry, as opposed to states like Queensland and New South Wales which have a lesser reliance on the manufacturing industry. So they support a job destroying, investment limiting burden on the car industry and on South Australia in particular.

More to the point, the member for Kingston, who stands up and, hand on heart, claims to support the car industry, was part of the office of former Treasurer Ralph Willis that increased the wholesale sales tax from 15 per cent to 22 per cent after the 1993 election. Where was he? I remember once that he was asleep in the chamber, asleep in the advisers box—asleep at the wheel, so to speak. What was he doing in the Treasurer's office? Was he arguing then for reduced taxes, for a 10 per cent level of taxation? Was he arguing then to bring it forward 12 months so the car industry would not have to suffer any ill effects of a 1 July beginning? No, of course not. He was probably trumpeting this policy to Ralph Willis at the time and forcing him to put it, and now he stands up and tries to deny his past. Fortunately, there are members like the member for Boothby and me who remember the past of some of our Labor colleagues.

Mr PYNE —Exactly. He has form on this and many other issues. We will not get into the wine industry. We will do that another day. The coalition, on the other hand, is about expanding the car industry. It is about helping to make it world capable and world competitive in the areas of research and development and export. It is about establishing a tariff regime that supports both the industry and the consumer and encourages investment in research and development. It has the access and development strategy, with funding of $20 million over the next four years, to try to find new export markets for our manufacturers and others. Happily, our policy is working. The car industry is being perceived as having the ability and the necessary investment in research and development. Exports in the automotive industry increased to $2.77 billion in 1998-99, increasing by nine per cent on the previous year in spite of the Asian financial crisis. Holden is exporting to Argentina. The Australian built Camry is the largest selling car in Saudi Arabia—23,000 were sold last year to Saudi Arabia alone. In fact, our fastest growing export market to the Middle East is the automotive industry—46,000 cars were sold in 1999 to the Middle East, $760 million worth of vehicles. (Time expired)