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Thursday, 10 October 1985
Page: 983

Senator TEAGUE —My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Treasurer, refers to the Government's wholesale sales tax decisions which have increased the price of household items such as ovens, refrigerators, washing machines and vacuum cleaners. How does the Minister justify the decision to impose or increase these taxes on essential household equipment when in the Budget it decided to remove sales tax from imported thoroughbred race horses?

Senator WALSH —There is at the margin, I think, always some room to quibble about items that should or should not be on the wholesale sales tax list or the rate at which they should be taxed. As to the specific items to which Senator Teague referred, a judgment was made by the Government that they were conceptually linked to a number of other items which were already in the Schedule and, therefore, ought to go in and at the same rate. If Senator Teague is really worried about essential household equipment being subject to tax or, indeed, about any extension of the wholesale sales tax at all, I wonder how he reconciles that with Senator Messner's tax policy? I am not sure whether or not this is the tax policy of the Opposition. It is very difficult to keep track of what is the current tax policy of the Opposition because it changes every day and it changes even within one day depending on whether one listens to Senator Messner or Mr Howard, or to somebody else.

Senator Messner's latest will and testament on this subject, as far as I know, is that there would be an extension of the wholesale sales tax and the introduction of a services tax. If Senator Teague is concerned about items being subject to tax, I wonder how he reconciles that concern with the policy of his Party's taxation spokesman. I do not really think that I can add anything to that, other than to say that judgments at the margin are always involved in determining the schedule of taxable items and the rate at which they will be taxed.