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Monday, 18 June 2001
Page: 27708


Mr HAWKER (3:15 PM) —My question is to the Treasurer. What steps is the government taking to inform taxpayers of tax cuts taking place from 1 July, and is there any precedent for governments conducting public information—

Opposition members interjecting—


Mr SPEAKER —Order! The member for Wannon will recommence his question and be heard without interruption.


Mr HAWKER —Thank you, Mr Speaker. My question is to the Treasurer. What steps is the government taking to inform taxpayers of tax cuts taking place on 1 July, and is there any precedent for governments conducting public information programs on such matters?


Mr COSTELLO (Treasurer) —I thank the honourable member for Wannon for his question. As was announced in a measure in the budget, the government will spend $5 million informing taxpayers of their entitlements to claim excess imputation credits. Let me say, Mr Speaker, that people have never been able to claim back excess imputation credits before, because the Labor Party never allowed them to do so. From 1 July, people will be able to do it, including pensioners, but they need to know they are entitled to do it if they are to get the taxes back. Secondly, charitable and gift-deductible organisations will be entitled to claim back imputation credits, for the first time in Australian history. Many of those charitable trusts do not put in tax returns, because they have never been entitled to get back the imputation credit on shares and dividends that they may receive from those shares.

The third thing is that the government will advertise the entitlement of all Australians to be relieved from the payment of financial institutions duty. The Leader of the Opposition is sending a letter around in his electorate saying that the Howard-Costello budget hands over $5 billion to the big end of town in tax cuts—to the big end of town. Some $1.2 billion is paid by the millions of Australians who are slugged with financial institutions duty, which is being abolished on 1 July, and he complains that is a tax cut for the big end of town! It is a tax cut for every pensioner in this country, for every self-funded retiree in this country, for every mother in this country and for every kid that might have a Dollarmite account with their school for saving. Some $5 billion to the big end of town? I will table that deceptive letter which has been written by the Leader of the Opposition.

I am asked whether governments ever advertise tax changes that they put in place. The Labor Party, of course, would have the Australian public believe what an outrageous thing it is to publicise tax changes. What kind of unconscionable government would advertise a tax change to let people know that their tax cuts are coming? What kind of unconscionable government would do that? Let me tell you one that would do that. The Bracks-Brumby government would do that. The Financial Review of 7 May 2001 had a nice little picture of Steve Bracks and a nice little picture of John Brumby. Prime Minister, you and I ought to have our pictures on these! And it has a signature. Look at what it says. The Labor Party would never advertise a tax change? Oh, no, not the Labor Party! Steve Bracks says that less tax would create a more competitive business environment. The advertisement says:

We said—

Steve Bracks and John Brumby—

`Let's do it.'

That is what John Brumby and Steve Bracks said. Then they set out all of the things that they are going to do. And have a listen to one of the things that they are going to do. This is Mr Bracks and Mr Brumby, outrageously putting advertisements in the newspaper. One of the things they are going to do is this. Let me quote:

These cuts—

Opposition members interjecting—


Mr COSTELLO —Yell louder, because you might drown me out. Come on, louder, Gavvie. This is what they are going to do in addition to all of their cuts. This is what they say:

These cuts—

this is Bracks and Brumby—

are in addition to the abolition of Financial Institutions Duty ...

The Victorian Labor government talk about the abolition of the financial institutions duty. The advertisement says:

These cuts are in addition to the abolition of Financial Institutions Duty and stamp duties on quotable marketable securities from 1 July.

They are not only advertising their tax cuts; they are advertising our tax cuts. You had better ask a question of Mr Bracks and Mr Brumby about how outrageous it is that they are using taxpayers' money to advertise our tax cuts. That is one of the reasons why we do advertise: to make it clear who is abolishing the financial institutions duty. It is not Mr Bracks and Mr Brumby. That is being totally funded by the GST revenue. They sit back in Melbourne and take their cheque every month. As the GST revenue grows, they abolish financial institutions duty and stamp duties on marketable securities, they advertise the fact that they are doing it, and they get out and inform taxpayers. This is hypocritical. I often say, `Hypocrisy, thy name is Labor.' I table the famous Bracks and Brumby advertisement.