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Senator is inclined to vote against a parliamentary inquiry into the tax package unless the Democrats decide to oppose the GST.



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MICHAEL MAHER: The Greens are preparing to sink the Democrats Senate inquiry into the GST.  Greens Leader, Bob Brown, told Stephen McDonell he’ll be voting against the inquiry unless the Democrats reject the Government’s new tax.

 

BOB BROWN:  Unless there is some compelling information that an inquiry is going to, in some way, lead to the Democrats, for example, changing course and blocking the GST, which I think ….

 

STEPHEN McDONELL: How can they say that before they have an inquiry?

 

BOB BROWN: Well, they’re saying as late as yesterday that they want the GST still not to apply to books, to education, health and to food.  Are they saying that if we hold an inquiry those things might go back in?  Is that what they’re saying?  If so, I’m interested to hear that they are in fact leaving the whole of their policy open for change, post-election, because they weren’t sure of the information upon which they based that policy during the election campaign.

 

STEPHEN McDONELL: So how will you be voting on the proposal to set up an inquiry?

 

BOB BROWN: Well, at the moment I would be opposed to it.  But I have an open mind on this.  It’s going to be quite a few weeks - there’s a month to go before the Senate comes back.  We haven’t seen the nature of any legislation, but I can tell you this:  that the Senate ought not be in the business of holding inquiries simply to delay, as a means of giving political advantage.  They should have held this inquiry, they should have insisted on this inquiry 12 months ago, before the election, before they put their policy out and before everybody had to vote on it.

 

STEPHEN McDONELL: It sounds like you’re considering voting against it very seriously.  Do you do this in the knowledge that if the Coalition votes against it as well, as you might expect, that your vote against the inquiry would sink it?

 

BOB BROWN: No.  I’m doing it from the point of view of ….

 

STEPHEN McDONELL: But you’re aware of that, that that might be the effect of your vote?

 

BOB BROWN: That could be the effect of it, that’s right.  But one has to vote on the merits of the process.  And if the Democrats are saying that an inquiry might lead them to discover why the majority voted against it and may lead them to actually vote holus-bolus against a GST, to drop their policy that is at election time, then I’ll be much more interested.

 

MICHAEL MAHER: Green Senator, Bob Brown.