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Friday, 2 March 1984
Page: 331

Senator COLSTON —Has the attention of the Minister representing the Treasurer been drawn to a complaint made by the Premier of Queensland in the Queensland Parliament this week that he and his spouse have to pay a 1 per cent Medicare levy? Will the Bjelke-Petersen household be paying a 1 per cent levy on their parliamentary salaries or, because of the levy's $700 a year ceiling for families, will their total levy payment be about one half of one per cent?

Senator WALSH —According to the Australian Associated Press transcript that I have before me, the Premier actually said that the Bjelke-Petersen Family or, rather, Mr Bjelke-Petersen and Senator Bjelke-Petersen, will be paying one per cent of their salary in the Medicare levy. Their total salary is above $122,000. So the answer is: No, they would not pay one per cent of their combined salary in the Medicare levy. They could not pay more than 0.57 per cent of their total salary in the Medicare levy. In context the claim by the Premier was wrong. It is of course possible that 'salary' and 'taxable income' are not the same because the Medicare levy is struck on taxable income and not on salary. Although for most people that are roughly equivalent it is possible that the Bjelke-Petersen's could be paying 1 per cent of their taxable income in a Medicare levy. For that to be the case, however, some $52,000 of the salary would have to be in some way removed from the taxable income base.

I do not know whether Mr Bjelke-Petersen would care to correct the error he made when he asserted that one per cent of the combined salary would be paid in the Medicare levy because that cannot be done. It is possible that one per cent of the combined taxable income is paid as a Medicare levy. If that is the case he might care to explain to everybody else how $52,000 of combined salary was somehow got out of the taxable income base.