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Thursday, 22 November 1973
Page: 3775

Mr HALLETT (Canning) - The Bills before the House this evening are extremely important. They affect most people in Australia and arise from matters which were referred to in the Budget on 21 August last. That was the first Australian Labor Party Budget for some 20-odd years. Of course, Labor undid many things which had been done over that period. The first question I ask the Government is: Where is its mandate for these moves? On many occasions when matters have been raised in this House and outside it we have heard .that the Government has a mandate. Where is its mandate for certain taxation alterations in regard to the gold mining industry in Western Australia? Did members of the Government Party go to Kalgoorlie before the election and say that this is what they would do if they were put into power on 2 December 1972? No; I heard nothing of this. The Government has no mandate for this measure. As far as I know, it was never stated that the Government would take this action. The gold mining industry in Western Australia was coming through a very difficult period; it could see fresh light because of certain things which were happening in relation to the price of gold. But, just when this was happening, the Government imposed this tax. I understand that the Government has seen the light and that it will make some alterations during the course of the debate on this measure. I certainly hope that that is correct.

As far as the wine industry is concerned - we have heard quite a lot about it tonight - what is the Government's mandate? Considering all the speeches about this industry made in this House over the last year or two before the Government came into power, it did the very reverse of what it said it would do if it were in power. Where was there a mandate for this? Did the Government have a mandate? Practically all these measures hit at private enterprise in Australia and hit at Australians - not people overseas. Above all, of course, they hit at primary industry which was the prime target of this Budget.

The honourable member for Banks (Mr Martin) referred to the investment allowance which has been removed from the taxation schedule by these measures. This has been referred to by previous speakers but I just want to say that the honourable member for Banks referred to the investment allowance and all the advantages that it gave to industry. He referred to the big companies such as the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd. Does the Labor Party not realise that the bulk of people employed in this country are employed in industry and that one of the reasons for introducing the investment allowance was to increase the opportunities for business and workers in the industrial world? If one looks at the figures for the last few years to see what has happened about job opportunities in Australia, one will find that this has been very successful. But no, the Labor Party does not in any sense at any time refer to this aspect of the matter. Australia could not possibly have employed 5.5 million people, or whatever the number is, but for the policies of encouraging industry which had been followed over a number of years. The Treasury knows this perfectly well. But that incentive has completely disappeared. The honourable member for Banks said that this was only the start of what the Labor Party intended to do and that there was more to come, that the Government has the implementation of the Coombs report to complete. The honourable member for Banks said tonight that this was the first year and only the start. No doubt the people of Australia will be extremely interested to know what the rest is to be if the Government gets the opportunity. We had a special allowance for machinery in primary industry. That has been removed and this has been a severe blow to primary industry. This was another leg on which to build Australia and to earn foreign capital. Statements were made ten to fifteen years ago by the then Minister for Trade that if this country wanted to pay its way it had to export more. Certain figures were given. We reached that point in mid-1972. Not only primary industry and the people generally were benefiting from these exercises, but also the factories that were being built to produce machinery to bring about the position in which we find ourselves today. If the Government continues to destroy the incentives for private enterprise and private industry then I feel very concerned for the people of Australia.

I have mentioned that in June 1972 we started to pay our way. We have reached that position so far as our current account is concerned. That position still held till the figures for the last quarter were produced; I think the relevant figure was about $41m. But the capital account has gone. It disappeared completely, and it went in the first 3 months of this year, as I outlined to the House in a speech earlier in the year. We lost $ 1,000m over a 3-month period. In the last quarter it was down a further $18m. This situation that we are in at the moment is being held by the current account - by our primary industries in the main, and by the exporters in the mining world who have been encouraged to come to this country with their capital and with their know-how and expertise to help this country to develop and to employ those people whom we wanted to employ. The primary industries have helped very largely in that field, and to remove these taxation conces sions from all of those industries - that is, all of the industries that are in fact-

Debate interrupted,

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