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Wednesday, 26 November 2008
Page: 11525

Mr HOCKEY (3:26 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister, and I refer him to his earlier statement that he is taking the Australian budget into deficit. I refer the PM also to his earlier statement about ‘going hard, going households, and going early’. Does the Prime Minister stand by his decision in the May budget to go hard, go households and go early by introducing $20 billion in increased and new taxes? How much higher, Prime Minister, would Australia’s growth rate be if the government had not taken decisions to increase taxes and other revenue by $20 billion in May?

Mr RUDD (Prime Minister) —For the benefit of the member for North Sydney I return to an answer I gave to an earlier question from him, which is how tax as a proportion of GDP changed between the member for Higgins’s last budget and the first budget for the member for Lilley, the current Treasurer. The answer is this: tax as a proportion of GDP went down under this Labor government. Can I say something? We are proud of that fact. We are proud of that fact because it provided greater incentive out there in the economy. On top of that I would say that the government also, consistent with its pre-election commitments, has gone about implementing a $44 billion tax reduction program across the forward estimates.

As a consequence of that the first tranche has been delivered in the budget in May. The second tranche will occur on 1 July next year. That is a responsible course of action because it actually adds to the overall ability of working families to deal with the challenges which lie ahead. I would also draw the honourable member of North Sydney’s attention to this, as he is so interested—at least temporarily—in tax matters. For the first time in the history of the federation, we are introducing an education tax refund, which will enable working families to claim, at the end of this financial year—as of 1 July next—an amount back for primary and secondary school kids for their basic education outlays. That is what I call acting on tax reform—helping working families to deal with the cost of education and helping the family pay packet through introducing stage 1 of a $44 billion tax reduction strategy. On top of that we are providing additional assistance to families and to pensioners through the $10.4 billion, one per cent of GDP, Economic Security Strategy released only last month. That, I would say to the honourable member for North Sydney, is properly supporting working families under the current circumstances. That is what I call acting responsibly in terms of the tax inheritance we received from those opposite—quite apart from the spending frolic in which they were engaged, which this government had to engage in, through its own expenditure review process, upon taking office.

The member for Higgins smiles benignly as if all was well with the state of Denmark, forgetting the fact that tax as a proportion of GDP reached the highest level in the history of the federation under his stewardship. Investment in national infrastructure reached the lowest level in the history of the federation. Two great report cards for the member for Higgins; two great report cards for the Liberal government! This government is getting on with the business of providing support for working families and will continue to do so into the future.