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Wednesday, 29 September 1993
Page: 1392

Senator FERGUSON —I direct my question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. I refer the minister to the government's proposal to introduce a one per cent tax on the diesel fuel rebate scheme. In the event of this legislation becoming law, if a farmer, hospital or mining company claims a $10,000 rebate under the scheme and Customs deducts the one per cent tax—that being $100—from that amount, will the farmer, hospital or mining company then be able to claim a tax deduction for that $100 as a legitimate business expense in the same manner as that farmer, hospital or mining company would do for other taxes?

Senator McMULLAN —The responsibility for this particular piece of legislation is actually with the customs portfolio, not mine, but I will inquire into the matter and get an answer for Senator Ferguson.

Senator FERGUSON —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. The minister has said he will obtain that information from the Australian Customs Service. Could he also find out the net benefit to the government that would be received from that proposed tax and advise the Senate whether it will in fact be far less than the $10 million in actual return to the government that is cited in the budget papers? If it is going to be far less than the amount quoted in the budget papers, is it the government's intention to raise that tax even further?

Senator Robert Ray —Why didn't you ask it originally? It is not a supplementary.

Senator McMULLAN —We are getting to the extraordinary situation where supplementary questions are longer than the original, bear very little relationship to the original and bear no relationship to the answer which was given. I am not quite sure how it properly constitutes a supplementary question but, to the extent that there is any useful information that can be supplied in response to Senator Ferguson's question, I am happy to supply it.