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Tuesday, 27 March 2001
Page: 25701

Ms CORCORAN (2:24 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer to the admission by the Minister for Veterans' Affairs that he has rolled back the GST on motorbikes for T&PI veterans by reclassifying the motorbikes as motor vehicles. Prime Minister, if you can get rid of the GST by reclassifying motorbikes as motor vehicles, why won't you do something for millions of Australian women by reclassifying their sanitary products as health goods?

Mr HOWARD (Prime Minister) —There has been no roll-back of the GST on motorcycles—none whatsoever. What has occurred, as the minister pointed out yesterday, was the payment, through the Department of Veterans' Affairs, of a subsidy of the order of $100,000 which will ensure the longstanding practice whereby an indirect tax burden does not fall on vehicles, be they cycles or cars, of disabled veterans. We are talking here about a figure of $100,000, which will ensure that the treatment that has been afforded to veterans in this area on a consistent basis will continue. It is not being done by means of a roll-back to the GST. While I am on the subject of roll-back—

Ms Macklin —What about the second half of the question? What about sanitary products?

Mr SPEAKER —The member for Jagajaga! The Prime Minister has the call.

Mr HOWARD —let me again—

Mr SPEAKER —The member for Lyons is warned!

Mr HOWARD —The theme in earlier answers by me and the Treasurer, I remind the parliament again, is that the financial institutions duty, which is slated for abolition on 1 July—and that will represent a saving of $1.2 billion—

Mr Beazley —Mr Speaker, I take a point of order on relevance. There is a facility at the end of question time to add to answers. The second part of the question related not simply to the roll-back in relation to vehicles for veterans; it also dealt with whether or not they were prepared to contemplate roll-back concerning millions of Australian women by reclassifying these sanitary products as health goods. That was the question: are they going to do it?

Mr SPEAKER —The Leader of the Opposition has made his point and will resume his seat. The Prime Minister was asked a question about the impact of the GST on veterans and on—

Ms Macklin —Women.

Mr SPEAKER —The member for Jagajaga might at least have the courtesy to hear the chair out. The Prime Minister was asked a question about the impact of the GST on veterans' facilities and on other goods.

Mr SPEAKER —The member for Dickson! I would invite him to respond to the question.

Mr HOWARD —I was asked about roll-back, and I purposely mentioned financial institutions duty. I think under a policy of roll-back the abolition of the financial institutions duty would be at risk. That is the point I make. I have been handed a transcript of an exchange between a Mr Murphy—and I assume that is the Mr Murphy the Leader of the Opposition keeps referring to with affection and approval when it comes to matters relating to GST—and Senator Conroy in a Senate committee on 12 November 1999. Mr Murphy said:

But the customers get the benefit of the abolition of FID, which is worth over $1 billion, so their customers finish up ahead.

Opposition members interjecting—

Mr HOWARD —They do not like this.

Mr Beazley —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I go to relevance: there is ample opportunity for the Prime Minister to correct his answer at the end of question time.

Mr SPEAKER —The Leader of the Opposition will resume his seat. I am having some difficulty finding some relevance between the financial institutions duty and the specific question.

Mr HOWARD —I will explain the relevance, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER —I invite the Prime Minister to return to the question.

Mr HOWARD —The relevance is that roll-back is when you take the GST off something, and in order to pay for it you either have to cut spending, increase income tax, go into deficit or increase the rate of GST on the things that remain subject to the GST. That is the point that has been made by the Treasurer. The point I was merely making is that, if you have roll-back, all the benefits of the new tax system are under a cloud and under a threat, and I think that is very bad for the veterans, I think it is very bad for Australian women and I think it is very bad for banking customers—in fact, it is bad for all Australians.