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Thursday, 28 October 1993
Page: 2755

Senator TEAGUE —My question is directed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. I refer to the federal budget's massive increase in wine tax and petrol tax and the extraordinary damage this will cause to my own state of South Australia. I ask: is it true that no access was given to the South Australian state Labor government in the decision-making processes for the federal budget? If it is not true, what were the representations the federal government actually received from the South Australian government about the wine tax and the petrol tax? Is it not true that the only reported effort Premier Arnold has made and the only reported access that he has been given was in a public verbal brawl with John Dawkins, when Mr Arnold said:

  I have to say those two issues anger us in South Australia, they come at a time when the economy did not need it.

  So much goodwill has been destroyed by those two taxes.

I quote Mr Arnold directly.

Senator McMULLAN —It is true that Mr Arnold is a very powerful and effective advocate for South Australia. I have never been in any doubt about that. It is very bipartisan and honest of Senator Teague to raise this matter. I think it is a noble exercise of bipartisanship to raise this effective advocacy by Mr Arnold on behalf of South Australia in these two matters. Over all the years that I have known the various members of the South Australian government, it has been my experience that they are effective advocates for their state—even when I disagree with them. Sometimes I find them much too effective advocates for their state and I wish they were not. It is certainly true about Lynn Arnold in his public comments with regard to both these matters. He raised those issues forcefully.

  With regard to the specifics of Senator Teague's question, the South Australian government, as far as I know, got exactly the same access to the budget process as all the other state governments. But, after the budget, when the matter was public and open for debate, I suspect that no-one would be in any doubt that, on these two matters, the most effective premier on behalf of his state was Lynn Arnold. If we compare his performance on the wine tax with that of Jeff Kennett, John Fahey—both of whom represent states with a substantial wine industry—or Richard Court, they were invisible. The evidence which I cite is that which Senator Teague quoted in such an effective and bipartisan manner, and I thank him for it.

Senator TEAGUE —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. The minister has not referred to one specific effective outcome of any representations made by the failed Labor government in South Australia. I again put the question to the minister and I ask him to give a specific answer. Is there any evidence of any effective representation that has been made by the state Labor government in South Australia—this failed government—on either the wine tax or the fuel tax? Is there any evidence that the minister can now demonstrate that has been in fact taken into consideration by the Labor government in the way it has punished my state of South Australia? This is a failed premier who has been ineffective in putting any views to this government.

Senator McMULLAN —I think it is much too late to retrieve the situation from Senator Teague's first question.