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Wednesday, 13 November 1985
Page: 2069

Senator BOLKUS —My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. I refer the Minister to the continuing campaign by a number of vested interests, apparently now supported by the Opposition, to sabotage $330m worth of tax cuts by attempting to reverse the Government's decision on the non-deductibility for tax purposes of entertainment expenses. I refer also to the claims made in this campaign about the alleged employment effects of this particular Government decision. Can the Minister provide the Senate with any information about the state of the labour market in the entertainment and restaurant industries and can he say whether this campaign by vested interests will have any effect on the Government's decision?

Senator WALSH —Fortuitously, I do have some information about the state of demand for labour in the industries to which Senator Bolkus has referred. Indeed, job vacancy levels have actually risen in recent months and are now at a much higher level than at the corresponding point in 1984. Commonwealth Employment Service job vacancy notifications for entertainment and recreation services, restaurants, hotels and club categories, in October 1985, which incidentally stood at almost 10,000, were higher than they had been for any period, certainly for the last 12 months, and I need not go back any further than that. I would say that they are probably higher than for any period in the previous two and a half years. More important, probably, is that the figure of 9,726 for October 1985 was some 20.4 per cent higher than the corresponding figure for September, which was just over 8,000. Between September and October, bearing in mind that this was the first month after the announcement by the Treasurer (Mr Keating) on 18 September of the changed taxation policy, job vacancies within the industries which are allegedly being destroyed increased by 20 per cent, or almost 2,000.

The Department of Employment and Industrial Relations analysis of newspaper vacancies for skilled occupations in the food and beverage trade shows a total of 300 vacancies recorded in November 1985, which is the second highest figure on record and a 50 per cent increase over the corresponding vacancy count for November 1984. Regarding the first part of Senator Bolkus's question, I have noticed that the organisation which calls itself Business against Non-deductibility-BAND-was on 30 October and the days around that time running advertisements which stressed the alleged effect of the disallowance of the entertainment tax on the breweries and wineries, thereby, of course, clearly laying an implicit charge that the business lunch was a pretty alcoholic occasion. I note that since some attention has been drawn to that advertisement the most recent advertisements authorised by the same organisation no longer mention the alleged effect of the denial of deductibility on wineries and breweries. From that I suppose one should assume that there has been a great victory for temperance and that the business lunch could now be a Salvation Army picnic.