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Thursday, 16 December 1993
Page: 4791

Senator PANIZZA (10.52 a.m.) —I have been listening to what the Minister for the Arts and Administrative Services (Senator McMullan) has had to say about the RSPCA's exemption from sales tax being a one-off thing. I know that the RSPCA has been working for a long time, but the government is opening up the gates. I have never really come to a conclusion about whether or not I will support the organisation. I always give non-committal answers. I am not used to doing that about anything. Once the gates have been opened, there will be a renewal of fervour by the Lost Dogs Home and then by lost cats, lost canaries, lost people, lost Democrats and so on. It will give them more reasons to go ahead. I welcome the one-off exemption for the RSPCA, in a way, but the trouble is that the government has opened up the gates and it will have two or three next year and four or five the year after. We have to be very careful about the flow-on effect.

  It is just like the last clause we were talking about dealing with retrospectivity. I was a little late coming in, but I heard Senator Kernot say, `We cannot support Senator Short's motion because $1 billion may have escaped'. I thought at the time that Senator Short's amendment was pretty good. What I would like Senator Kernot to think about is the fact that every new tax act that comes in raises far more money than the government intended. I know that this has applied to the two principal taxes in the last seven or eight years, the fringe benefits tax and the capital gains tax, and it applies to any new tax. But the government does not then say that it will cut the rate or give some of it back, or something like that. We have to balance that against what may have gone out the door. In the case of the RSPCA, we have to see how much more is going to go out the door with the lobbying that will go on. We will probably find another worthy cause. I urge the minister to proceed with caution on this matter—something that I seldom do.