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Monday, 11 November 1985
Page: 1903


Senator CROWLEY(4.53) —I have the pleasant opportunity to summarise yet another bizarre matter of public importance brought on for debate in this chamber by the Opposition. It is interesting to inform people again just what we are debating. It is:

The detrimental effect on South Australians of the high interest and high taxation policies of current Labor governments.

Do I understand that the Opposition is selective in who it cares about? Why is it not concerned about the detrimental effect, if these things are true, on Australians all around the country? Why does it refer only to South Australia? The answer is quite clear because late yesterday afternoon in South Australia Premier Bannon announced the date of the next State election. This debate is nothing more than carrying State politics to the Federal arena. It is using broadcast time of the Senate to inform all Australians, but in particular those earnest South Australians who listen to Federal Parliament, that this is where the debate is happening.

Is it perhaps because Senator Hill is President of the State branch of the Liberal Party in South Australia? We might ask why Senator Hill is President of the Liberal Party in South Australia? I am sure that voters would like to be reminded of who was the previous President of the Liberal Party and what he did to earn his rapid replacement by Senator Hill. I am sure that the records in South Australia will remind people why Senator Hill is now the President of the Liberal Party and why it is no inadvertence that he put this debate in front of the Senate today.


Senator Vanstone —Let's not be gutless. Let's spell it out.


Senator CROWLEY —We are not making it up. Mr West did it all by himself, and I do not have to speak about that. Senator Hill is President of the Liberal Party in South Australia. He is campaigning on behalf of his Opposition Leader in South Australia here rather than in South Australia. I wonder whether it is because Mr Olsen cannot manage without his support. It would be interesting to know. To go back through the debate, Senator Jessop left us with a clear understanding that it is only the Labor Party that does tough things to its members. One asks why Mr Stan Evans was not endorsed by the Liberal Party in any of God knows how many seats he tried for in South Australia.


Senator Elstob —What did he do?


Senator CROWLEY —What he did is not a matter of dispute or discussion, but he has not been preselected. That is clearly an example of the fact that the Liberal Party, too, is thoughtful, or less than thoughtful, about who it preselects and what it does. That is not the important issue. What is the important issue is why Senator Hill should choose today to talk about the effect of the high interest and high tax policies of current Labor governments on South Australians. He apparently has very little concern about the rest of Australia, but he wants today-the day after an election has been announced in South Australia-to do a little campaigning on behalf of Mr Olsen. It is quite clear that he ought to do so, because Mr Olsen cannot do too much for himself. Today we heard Senator Hill go on and on about how the Opposition objects to high taxes and how Mr Olsen and the Opposition would not do anything about taxes. Yet I have a nice piece of paper in my hand on which is the headline: `Some tax rises needed, says Mr Olsen'. Is that not interesting! Under that headline, in the Advertiser on 5 May 1983, it is stated:

Some tax increases were needed, said Mr Olsen, to cover some of South Australia's Budget blowout.

It is important to remember 1983 vis-a-vis the previous South Australian election and why there was a Budget deficit. Senator Maguire and Senator Foreman went into that in great detail in their earlier contributions. I do not need to go through it again. In summary, the reason was Liberal South Australian mismanagement. That is why Premier Bannon has had to take the steps he has taken during his very thoughtful and considered three years in government up to this election. Nothing Mr Bannon has done has been hidden from the public. He has bravely put his case to the public on every occasion. He has no reason to flinch from what members of the public will say about him because what he has said on behalf of South Australia and in dealing with the Opposition is quite clear and known by all the electors. He can stand on his record and he can say that the South Australian Labor Government will take South Australia into the next three years much more successfully than the bleating Liberals opposite, who are shouting that they do not want high taxes in the face of this piece of paper in which Mr Olsen himself is reported as saying that some tax rises are needed.

Honourable senators opposite are selective in applying their high taxes. They are selective as to when they want to introduce them. `We will put them in and take them out', they say, and then castigate Premier Bannon for doing the same. If it is all right for the Liberals, I cannot see why it is not all right for the Labor Government, particularly as every single thing that Mr Bannon has done has been part of a massive economic recovery in South Australia. The selective figures cited by the Opposition are absolutely extraordinary. I say again that Mr Bannon has no need to worry about going to the electors in South Australia. He has made public every step he has taken. He has made clear why he had to increase and change the charges early in his term-because he was left such a chaotic piece of mismanagement by the Opposition. Mr Bannon can stand up in South Australia, and the Liberals will have to bite the bullet, because his voter approval is now about 75 per cent. Mr Bannon has 75 per cent popularity and approval in South Australia because he stands on his record, because he has brought recovery and improvement to South Australia.


Senator Hill —A 55.2 per cent increase in interest rates.


Senator CROWLEY —Members of the Opposition seem to know one figure only-55 per cent, bless their little hearts. It would be interesting to talk about that 55 per cent if Senator Hill wants to argue about that. One of the reasons that figure has increased is the enormous growth base in South Australia. South Australia is experiencing an economic boom and that percentage is artificially high precisely because of the encouragement in growth and employment. What does Senator Hill say to that? He would rather keep figures down in order to have no growth. Senator Hill is hoist with his own petard. Taking one statistic out of a whole argument is a folly and he will be hoist with that during this campaign. South Australia is recovering economically. It is experiencing growth, unemployment is falling, and inflation is down. Everything has improved since Mr Tonkin left the Premier's seat and the treasury bench. In fact, we discover that he is now leaving the State.

I turn to another very small set of statistics which relate to industrial unrest. Under the Bannon Labor Government only 59 days were lost per thousand employees in that 12-month period. All the things that members of the Opposition complain and bleat about represent a grabnet of everything. I am going to talk about days lost due to industrial disputes. Under the Bannon Labor Government 59 days were lost per thousand employees in the 12-month period ending July 1985. In Queensland, for example, in the same 12-month period 373 days were lost per thousand employees due to industrial disputes. Fifty-nine days were lost in South Australia compared to 373 days in Queensland. The number of days lost in Queensland was over six times the number lost in South Australia. Queensland has an absolutely disgraceful record. It stands splendidly against the excellent record in South Australia.

We have had a wild discursion into just about everything. Housing has been raised by the Opposition in this place. As Senator Maguire spelled out, in 1984-85 there were over 15,000 approvals for new houses in South Australia, which is getting very close to a 100 per cent improvement on what we had when Mr Tonkin left the treasury bench in South Australia three years ago plus one day. I say for the record that Premier Bannon has served his full term, and that is another reason why the election was called yesterday. He went his full three years. There was no calling an early election to duck from issues; Bannon took his Government to full term and he will do so again in the next three years. We stand on that record unashamedly. I repeat that in South Australia there were 15,000 housing approvals in 1984-85.


Senator Hill —Is that why he doesn't want Mr Hawke in the electorate?


The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Senator Hill, you are interjecting too much.


Senator CROWLEY —Thank you, Mr Deputy President, I can perhaps now lower my voice a little. That is an increase of 26.3 per cent compared to an increase of 16.7 per cent around Australia. The number of housing approvals has increased dramatically around Australia because of the Federal Government initiatives in that area, and in South Australia we see the extra bonus because of the South Australian Government's very similar and allied policies. We have, as we often do in South Australia, the very best of Commonwealth-State agreements behind the dramatic increase for all South Australians from that policy of co-operation rather than confrontation. I have talked about the good figures of the very few days lost due to industrial unrest in South Australia. We see again in the housing area the benefits of the Bannon Government's co-operation with the Hawke Government. Whether it is a policy of consultation between the State and Federal governments or between government and unions, in every case Premier Bannon's consultation process has led to the most satisfactory outcome. It stands in marked contrast, for example, to the confrontational policies in Queensland, with the dramatic difference in days of industrial unrest in that State. The housing area is another in which consultation between the State Premier and the Federal Government makes a difference. In Queensland approvals were down by 2.6 per cent as compared to an increase in South Australia of 26.3 per cent. So we can approve the Bannon Government's policies of consultation and thoughtful consideration of the issues, of co-operation and discussion, and of ensuring that everything proceeds according to a well thought out program that is best for all South Australians. Again, the figures for new housing commencements in South Australia in 1984-85 stand for themselves.


Senator Hill —Mr Deputy President, I raise a point of order. We have been extremely patient. This is a debate about interest rates and taxation and the high policies of the Hawke Government and the Labor Government in South Australia in those fields. For the last five minutes we have heard Senator Crowley talking about housing policy and industrial relations policy, which have nothing to do with this debate. If Senator Crowley wants to have a debate on those subjects tomorrow it is up to her, but we and the people of South Australia want to hear her addressing the question of interest rates and taxation policy.


The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Order! There is no point of order. Those matters were raised in the debate earlier and Senator Crowley is entitled to deal with them too.


Senator CROWLEY —Thank you, Mr Deputy President; that was a thoughtful decision. How could it not be relevant when I am simply addressing, as the last person to speak in this debate, the issues raised by the Opposition? If Senator Hill wants me to talk directly to tax, I will do so and will talk about the complaints of that poor man during his contribution. He referred to the terrible problems with the capital gains tax and the fringe benefits tax hitting those people who want to eat at no charge, on the taxpayer. I quote from an excellent speech in this place by Senator Maguire on 6 November 1985. He said:

A comment was made by Mr Harold Lasky, the Managing Director of Diners Club Ltd. Most of his business comes from the entertainment area of the community. He said:

I think the people who are genuinely involved in a lunch to discuss business will continue to do so.

I move on because this is, after all, a debate which directly addresses tax. As Senator Hill wants to talk tax, I will talk tax directly to Senator Hill. Senator Maguire continued:

I quote now from a response to the changed tax arrangements for company cars.

That point was raised by way of complaint and carping criticism by the Opposition in this debate. To continue:

Mr Graham Longbottom, Deputy Managing Director of Mitsubishi Australia--

he is a man with some understanding of the car industry--

said:

Mitsubishi could be unscathed as fleet owners, looking for more value for money, could move down to smaller cars.

He said that this would suit Mitsubishi, which offers cars in the small car range. In regard to the claims made about the impact of the tax package on the farm sector--

not too many of these were mentioned in the Opposition's contribution to this debate, but I believe there are claims by the rural sector in South Australia--

I simply refer to a comment by Mr Jim McCarter, the rural affairs editor of the Adelaide Advertiser. He said:

Land values generally do not increase at a rate much different from the inflation rate, so farmers are likely to pay little or no capital gains tax.


Senator Hill —He will be struggling to get a vote from you.


Senator CROWLEY —We do not always necessarily look for votes from people. What we are interested in sometimes is putting the facts on record. Senator Hill's policy, in his speech today and elsewhere, is to put a program of disinformation in front of voters so that even genuine Liberal voters are confused about why they are voting Liberal. Our policy is not to necessarily persuade everybody to vote for us. I do not expect that will ever be the case. What is important, though, is to counter the misinformation provided by the Opposition. Another complaint that the Opposition made was that everything in South Australia was in a total state of disaster, that Labor was not fit to rule, and so on. I quote from the South Australian Corporate Affairs Commission:

A total of 12,103 new business names was registered, the highest 12-month total in the history of the registry office.

That figure is for South Australia in the last 12 months, the year 1984-85. That is a very curious state of affairs from a State about which the Opposition-if I can believe it-complained so much that the taxes would remove incentive and completely rort the economy. That is not so. The Corporate Affairs Commission in South Australia gives the lie to that with that little piece of data and figure. I could quote many more examples, but I conclude by saying that Premier Bannon is an honourable Premier. He has made very clear to the electors of South Australia every time what he is doing and why he has taken the decisions he has taken. That is why the voter approval of Premier Bannon in South Australia is so high and will remain high. He is an honourable Premier. He is a man of formidable integrity. He has turned out to be, in the face of the Opposition's best wishes, a man of competence and comprehensive economic ability. He has brought South Australia out of a disastrous recession left to us by the Liberal governments, State and Federal, in the preceding period. In co-operation with the Federal Labor Government, he has achieved great things.


The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Order! The honourable senator's time has expired.