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Thursday, 8 March 1973
Page: 358

Mr HURFORD (ADELAIDE, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Has the Treasurer seen a report in the media recently to the effect that this new Government is not committed to taxation reform? Will he lay to rest this red herring?

Mr CREAN - It seems to be my day, at last. Taxation is not only a means of raising revenue but also a social instrument. After 23 years of non-Labor government, I would not believe that everything that ought to be taxed is being taxed exactly as it should. I refer particularly to what is supposed to be the crown of the taxation system, that is,, progressive income tax. The progressive income tax schedule has remained virtually unaltered since 1954-55. It has been wrecked by inflation which continued under the administration of the previous government at an annual average of 2i per cent. Honourable members can work out what impact such a rate of inflation has had between 1954-55 and 1973. The progressive income tax schedule has remained virtually unchanged and concessions in respect of dependants have not kept up to date with the fall in the value of money. That is the case with respect to one form of tax only.

I think the previous Government acknowledged deficiencies in the system and set up what is known as the Asprey Committee. My Government has not disturbed that Committee. Its deliberations are continuing. We have already announced one or two changes in sales and excise taxes. We have indicated certain gates in the system that are being abused by clever accountants and shrewder lawyers and we propose to close those gates. As would any new government, we will at the time of the next Budget introduce quite substantial changes in the Australian taxation structure. Those changes will be framed between now and the presentation of that Budget. There are policy matters still to be determined. But I can assure the honourable member for Adelaide that all these matters are under deep discussion by the Government and that documents will be submitted to Cabinet shortly recommending quite substantial changes.

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