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Wednesday, 19 June 1996
Page: 1825


Senator PANIZZA(3.19 p.m.) —Those on the other side have continually tried to hang Senator Short for the mistaken information that was supplied by a senior officer of the tax department. That senior officer has admitted his mistake and apologised. The commissioner has admitted that mistake and apologised. Let us get to the point.

During the 13 years you people were in government and during the eight years that I was here while you people were in govern ment—I am getting the details out for tomorrow—there were four ministers caught in the same trap. Senator Schacht was caught, I think at estimates, on customs. Whether it was in estimates or over here, you were caught in the same way. You were given misleading information. You came in here and defended yourself. Your colleagues defended you to the hilt. You were defended on that when you were in the same position. I will not name the other three because I am not sure, but—

Opposition senators interjecting


Senator PANIZZA —All right, I will. Senator Cook was one, from my knowledge. Senator Michael Tate was another one. And there was one other. In my belief, there were four that fell into the same trap, by someone else's ineptitude. You have to remember that. No-one over there offered any resignation. You fought it and fought it, all the way along.

I come to another point. Senator Schacht misled the parliament in a question today. He stood up there—anyone can tell me if he did not—and said that all states are raising taxes because of the outcome of the Premiers Conference. Is that right, Senator Schacht?

Senator Schacht said that all states are going to raise taxes. Did you hear Richard Court's statement on Friday night when he got back to Perth and completely ruled out any state tax rise? Do you remember that? No. He chose to mislead the Senate with that statement. If the state of New South Wales, under a Labor government, has done that, then Senator Schacht should mention them and leave anyone else out. But the state of Western Australia has ruled that out.

Senator Faulkner asked a question and pointed out that there is doubt amongst motor retailers as to sales tax exemptions. Obviously, Senator Faulkner and most of you over there have never been in business, otherwise you would know the answer.


Senator West —Oh!


Senator PANIZZA —Listen, Senator West. The retailer does not have to worry about the sales tax exemption. It is exempt if the purchaser gives the retailer a declaration that it is eligible for exemption. On that certificate he will exempt it or he will not exempt it. So it is not up to the motor retailer to work it out. In this case we are talking about the federal government, about state governments and about local government. They have enough financial, legal and commercial advisers who can tell them precisely whether or not something is exempt. If they sign a certificate, it is exempt. If they do not sign a certificate, it is not exempt. The retailer does not have to worry about running off to his accountant or solicitor or anyone like that. Those four ex-ministers, before they start casting stones, should think of their own ineptitude, and think of the stupid question that was asked about the exemption. They should look at their own failings rather than attempt to ascribe failings to the minister over here. (Time expired)