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Thursday, 20 June 1996
Page: 1935

Senator SHERRY —My question is addressed to the Assistant Treasurer. Minister, yesterday, in answer to a question from me about sales tax, you described your government's decision as `clear and simple'. You said that it had been made clear by all spokesmen on behalf of the government—by the Treasurer, by the Prime Minister and even by you—and that you failed to understand our continual lack of understanding. Can you therefore please clarify what precisely is the position in relation to government pool vehicles which are generally used for business purposes but also used for private purposes even though they are not part of salary packages?

Senator SHORT —I think that Senator Wheelwright yesterday said that I had been asked 74 questions in the last few weeks. I must say that virtually all of them have been the same. I will tell you why those questions are being asked: it is an attempt by the now opposition to cover up the 13 years of disastrous failure they left to the Australian people.

It was a situation where they deliberately engineered a recession which put more than one million people out of work. It was a situation where we had almost the highest interest rates in the western world, where foreign debt grew from $23 billion to more than $180 billion, and where the standard of living of virtually all Australians was lessened. For this opposition to start asking questions on taxation when it ripped the Australian taxpayer to pieces year after year is the height of gall and hypocrisy.

In answer to Senator Sherry's specific question: I expect the bill relating to the sales tax arrangements, which will explain all the aspects of this measure, to be introduced in the House of Representatives in the course of next week. The details, including the detail that Senator Sherry asks about, will be made clear at that time.

Senator SHERRY —I ask a supplementary question. You fail to address the issue that I have just asked you about—yet again. In respect of the loophole that I have just raised, could the reason for that failure be that the most recent estimates of the revenue expected to be raised by this new measure now range from $100 million down to $50 million, as you indicated in your answer to Senator Lundy's question yesterday? If the decision is so simple and clear, why is it that you obviously have no idea how much revenue will be raised?

Senator SHORT —That is a ridiculous question. If Senator Sherry is talking about money, we are having questions from the gold medallist in the travel allowance stakes for parliamentary secretaries in government rorting the taxpayers. How much did you spend on travelling allowance? The details of all the arrangements will be contained in the bill to be introduced next week.