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Howard shatters his own credibility.

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The Hon Simon Crean MP

Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Treasurer

18 April 1999




The Prime Minister’s word can no longer be believed, Shadow Treasurer Simon Crean said today.


As revealed on th e Sunday program today, the Prime Minister has lied about the information in a recent OECD report in an effort to sell his GST.


Mr Howard also failed to come clean on GST compensation for Australia’s pensioners and low income earners, continuing the “Goebbels chant” that there are no GST losers.


And he admitted that GST revenue does not deliver all of the tax cuts — that you can have tax cuts without hitting ordinary Australians with a new 10 per cent tax on almost everything.


But most damaging for Mr Howard was the fact that he was caught red-handed on the OECD report.


In a paid, scripted national broadcast on Monday, the Prime Minister said that a recent OECD study showed that Australian workers pay more income tax than in any industrialised country except Denmark.


HOWARD: “According to a recent study by the OECD, Australian workers on average wages pay more in income tax than workers in any other industrialised country in the world, except Denmark”


Wrong Mr Howard.


The OECD study he quotes from shows that not just Denmark, but Belgium, Sweden and Finland have higher income taxes than Australia and that Turkey has the same level. (Copy attached)


But on top of Mr Howard’s lie is a deliberate and blatant further misleading of the Australian people


The OECD study lists all income taxes, including those called ‘social security contributions' (the Medicare Levy in Australia’s case).


Mr Howard chose not to include this information, even though it is contained in the same table, on page 12, of the OECD study he was quoting from.


What the study actually shows is that out of 29 industrialised countries, Australia ranks as the 12 th lowest, not the 2 nd highest. as Mr Howard claimed.


So the real income tax burden faced by workers - the combination of income taxes and social security contributions — is one of the lowest in the industrialised world.


And of course Australia has done it without a GST.


The OECD study clearly spells out that the social security contributions should be treated as taxes to ensure "Better comparability between countries”. Is Mr Howard claiming that he just overlooked this?


The Prime Minister’s own Code of Conduct requires that “Ministers must be honest in their public dealings and should not intentionally mislead the Parliament or the public. Any misconceptions caused inadvertently should be corrected at the earliest opportunity.”


In light of his own Code, the Prime Minister must immediately go back onto national television, apologise for misleading the Australian people and set the record straight.


Further information: Phillip Tardif (02) 6277 4045(w), (0419) 497 103