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Wednesday, 21 August 1985
Page: 82

Senator PETER RAE —My question is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Does the Minister agree with the business editor of the Melbourne Age, Mr Terry McCrann, that the Government's economic strategy will be undermined if it persists with the remnants of the so-called tax reform package which Mr McCrann describes as `viciously anti-business and anti-enterprise'? I ask: Bearing in mind that the Budget projections for private sector investments were relatively morbid, does the Minister further agree that any move which increases taxes on business or discourages enterpreneurial activity, as is expected from the September tax statement, will reduce economic activity and could make more dismal the prospects for substantial increase in private sector growth which is so important if this Budget is to achieve its targets? I ask the Minister, who has reportedly written to his colleagues with a cautioning word on taxing of fringe benefits, such as motor vehicles, whether he will do everything he can to ensure that economic growth is not jeopardised by an assault on the wealth creating sector of the economy.

Senator BUTTON —I find that question, coming from a Liberal front bencher in the Senate, and the quotation from Terry McCrann's article, quite extraordinary. This Government has not attained anything like the same degree of expertise in decreasing economic activity as honourable senators opposite attained in seven years. This Government has shown an expertise in increasing economic activity while it has been in office and we will continue to do so. I have not read the comments made by Mr McCrann in this article, but on the basis of what has been put to me in Senator Rae's question, no I do not agree with Mr McCrann about that issue. I think he should perhaps wait to see what the tax package does hold for business before he makes comments which suggest that it would be a totally one-sided package or anything of that kind. That is the purport of the quotation to which Senator Rae referred. If he is asking me whether I have said that there should be caution in matters of tax reform, yes, that is my postion and always has been; it will not change.