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Monday, 29 May 2000
Page: 16411


Mr CREAN (2:56 PM) —My question is again to the Prime Minister. I refer again to your broken promise relating to the GST impact on ordinary beer. Prime Minister, isn't it true that, if the GST replaced the wholesale sales tax, draught beer prices would rise by less than one per cent? Haven't you used the GST as an excuse to increase the excise on draught beer, thus forcing prices up by more than eight per cent?


Mr HOWARD (Prime Minister) —The claim by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that we have used it as an excuse is wrong and I reject it. It seems to me that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and others who are critical of the difference between the increase in the price of packaged beer—and I am informed that packaged beer through bottle shops comprises some 70 to 75 per cent of aggregate beer sales in Australia—have overlooked the fact that there is a service component in the delivery of—


Mr Crean —Ha! What about your promise?


Mr SPEAKER —The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has asked his question.


Mr HOWARD —I know the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is programmed to laugh whenever we give a response—this nervous sort of laugh whenever we give a response to his question. But the reality is that there is a service component that does explain the difference.


Mr Crean —Why didn't you tell Alan Jones that?


Mr HOWARD —And the claim made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that—


Mr Crean —Hey? Why didn't you tell Alan Jones that?


Mr SPEAKER —The Prime Minister will resume his seat.


Mr HOWARD —I have finished, Mr Speaker.


Mr SPEAKER —By any standard it has been the practice of the chair, no matter who the occupant of the chair has been, to give a good deal of leniency to deputy leaders of the opposition. I ask the Deputy Leader of the Opposition to exercise a little more restraint.