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Thursday, 19 August 1993
Page: 320

Senator PATTERSON —My question is directed to the minister representing the Treasurer. During the last election the Labor Party promised that all age pensioners would be free of tax by 1995. In fact, it was Senator Richardson who trumpeted this initiative and said in one of his flamboyant moments—and I will remind him—that this was `one of the greatest reforms this nation has ever had'. What possible explanation does the government have for ripping this assurance off pensioners less than one week after the last federal election, other than that it was a Labor L-I-E—lie?

Senator McMULLAN —The Treasurer dealt with this issue some four or five months ago and we have had a rather large number of sittings of the parliament since. I would have thought that if this was actually a source of great passion and concern it might have been raised then.

Senator Teague —You didn't give us a question time on Tuesday.

Senator McMULLAN —It might have escaped Senator Teague's notice but we were actually here in May.

Senator O'Chee —But we didn't have the budget in May.

Senator McMULLAN —But honourable senators opposite did not have any doubt about the policy because the Treasurer had made it clear, and the Treasurer also made it clear at that time that the government was pursuing the objectives set down in that 1995 commitment other than through that way because we have been approached by a number of groups, principally pensioner groups, saying it was not the most equitable measure to pursue that goal.

Senator PATTERSON —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Was the Minister approached by those pensioner groups up to the week before the election, because a minister was publishing material a week before the election promising pensioners just that?

Senator Vanstone —I'd shut my eyes if I were answering this question, too.

Senator McMULLAN —Only if I was looking in your direction. The answer is yes.