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Wednesday, 19 June 1996
Page: 1863

Senator SHERRY (Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate)(6.31 p.m.) —I could not agree with Senator Kernot more. It is pleasing to see Senator Ferguson walk into the chamber. He is the chair of the Economics Committee. Are you leaving now?

Senator Ferguson —I couldn't yell at you from down there.

Senator SHERRY —I thought you were going to cross the floor and vote with us. I quoted you extensively earlier in the debate, Senator Ferguson. I quoted the fine words and fine contribution you have made over the past few years on this issue, pointing out that the provisional uplift factor should be reduced.

Senator Short —That is precisely what we have done. It is what the bill is about.

Senator SHERRY —You are doing it for one year. As I pointed out earlier, the coalition's policy and new deal for small business is that the provisional tax uplift factor will be reduced by two per cent to six per cent, which is more in line with the nominal growth in the economy.

But what do you present us with today? A bill for one year only. What happens beyond that? Labor is making sure we assist small business and self-funded retirees. That is what we are making sure of today. We are going to lock in the six per cent maximum; we are going to lock it in as a maximum. If the growth rate in the economy continues at current pace, which is very good—a great legacy from Labor—and if the inflation rate continues as low it is, then perhaps this should go lower in future years, not higher as you are proposing.

Senator Watson —We are not proposing that.

Senator SHERRY —Your proposal is to leave it on the never-never; you are saying, `Let's look at it in a year when we need more money.' What we got last week at the Premiers Conference was another breach of election commitments. You said that there would be no new taxes and no expansion of existing taxes. What did the Treasurer dish up to us last week? A $1.2 billion new sales tax, Senator Watson. You should all be ashamed of yourselves. You should be crossing the floor to support us on this amendment.