Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (17:47): The Labor Party work on the principle that, if you tell enough bare-faced, blatant lies time and time again on every news item—ably assisted, I might say, by the ABC—that someone might eventually start to believe them.
Senator Cameron: Mr Acting Deputy President, I rise on a point of order. Senator Macdonald has been here a long time and he knows that he cannot accuse senators of lying. So he should withdraw.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT ( Senator Edwards ): I did not hear it, but if you did, Senator Macdonald—
Senator IAN MACDONALD: Mr Acting Deputy President, on the point of order, so that you are aware: I said, and I repeat, 'The Labor Party'. I did not mention anything about senators or individual senators; I said, 'The Labor Party work on the principle.'
Senator Cameron: 'Lying' is unparliamentary. You know that. He should withdraw.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: There is no point of order.
Senator IAN MACDONALD: You can understand why the Labor Party will do everything to prevent me from exposing the truth.
Senator Cameron: Mr Acting Deputy President, could you explain to me why 'lying' is now parliamentary? If that is the case, this is a ruling that I am unaware of. If you are now saying that to make accusations of lying is parliamentary we will go with it.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator Cameron, Senator Macdonald did not refer to anybody. 'Lying' is in the dictionary, the last time I looked. He did not refer specifically to or reflect on anybody in this chamber.
Senator IAN MACDONALD: I might point out to those who might be listening to this debate on radio that it is interesting that, when I have 10 minutes left to speak, Senator Cameron and the Labor Party will do everything possible to prevent me from having my 10 minutes, because they know I will expose the Labor Party for the misrepresentations and the blatant lies that are part of the Labor Party strategy on this issue. I am no new comer to GST debates.
Senator Cameron: Mr Acting Deputy President, I rise on a point of order again on this issue. It is quite clear that what Senator Macdonald is doing is not accusing the Labor Party of lying, but he is accusing of lying senators who have made contributions in here. You should apply the standing orders. This is unparliamentary, and Senator Macdonald should not be allowed to do it. I have not heard this type of language being used against senators for some time.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator Cameron, I will repeat what I said before. Generally, the word has to be attributed to an individual or a person in the chamber or somebody from the other side. I would ask you, Senator Macdonald, if perhaps you could rephrase your statement so that you can actually get through your contribution here today. There is no point of order.
Senator IAN MACDONALD: Thank you, Mr Acting Deputy President. But, if I deal with that, they will find some other reason to stop me exposing the Labor Party for what they are. The Labor Party as a group have no interest whatsoever in tax reform and have no interest in the truth. I am no new comer to GST debates and discussions. This is the third GST debate that I have been involved in. With the first one, I was the only senator here around when the Labor Party told all sorts of lies and made misrepresentations about John Hewson's 'Fightback' package. They succeeded then. I was around when the Labor Party took the same approach against John Howard's GST. That time it was taken to the people of Australia and the people Australia endorsed it. This is the third debate.
Despite what the Labor Party keep misrepresenting to the people of Australia, this is not a government plan. The only person who has a plan publicly for a 15 per cent GST is the Labor Premier of South Australia. He is the only politician who has talked about a 15 per cent plan for the Labor Party. The Labor Party are telling us all the detail of modelling for a 15 per cent rise. I do not know, but it seems to me that perhaps the Labor Party have a secret plan that they are doing work on, and that is why they know all this detail about the GST—because no-one on the coalition side in this parliament has ever spoken about the GST. I am sorry; there is one exception to this. Many months ago, when the Labor Party first raised this—abetted by the ABC—I said publicly that I would not be supporting a 15 per cent GST. I publicly said that I would write to the Treasurer and tell him that if it came forward in this parliament not to rely on my vote. That is not new news; that is something I mentioned at the time.
And why did I do that? As I said, I was around when the GST debate occurred in the 1998 election, when John Howard courageously took that proposal to the electorate. At that time, from John Howard down, right down to me, we all promised that it would only be a 10 per cent GST. The Labor Party at the time, first of all they told all sorts of mistruths about it, which you are hearing again now. They also said—again a complete fabrication—that it would only be 10 per cent for the while and then it would be increased to 15 per cent. And from John Howard down, we all swore in blood that it would never increase beyond 10 per cent—for all of the right reasons—and that is why I indicated my position to the Treasurer several months ago.
Anything the Labor Party say, the fabrications that come out from the Labor Party campaign unit, are not new to me. This happened in the GST era of John Howard. The Labor Party pilloried it. It was the worst thing that was going to happen; the world was going to come to an end if we had a 10 per cent GST. I remember all of those debates in this chamber. Of course, it went ahead because the Australian people agreed with it—agreed that the compensations were good; agreed that Australia needed a better and fairer tax system, which happened as a result of the 10 per cent GST—but Labor opposed it, foot and mouth, all the way through. And then Labor came to power, as happens in this country. The Labor Party became the government and, after all of their years of bagging the GST, what did they do about abolishing it? This was the tax that the Labor Party said was going to destroy the world, and yet when they got into power, did they do anything about getting rid of the GST? Of course not, because they understood that this was an essential part of a tax package for a modern country.
I remember—not quite the names, but I remember that during the 1998 campaign it was pointed out that there were only two countries in the world that did not have a value-added tax. One was Botswana and I think the other one might have been some central European country—perhaps Bulgaria, but I am not sure about that. But there were only two countries in the world that did not have a value-added tax, and yet the Labor Party said it was going to destroy Australia. As we know, during the time of the Howard government, with that great boost to the economy that followed from the 10 per cent GST and the tax cuts that occurred, the Australian economy went ahead in leaps and bounds.
I could not help but think that Senator Ludwig—when I talk about fabrications, Senator Ludwig had the hide to say all the tax cuts that were promised when the 10 per cent GST came in were not actually taken off by the Howard government. The reason why was most of the state governments at that time were run by the Australian Labor Party. They agreed that if we had a 10 per cent GST—and of course the GST goes straight to the states; it does not come to the Commonwealth—then all of the state Labor governments would get rid of payroll tax, tax on insurance levies, transaction taxes. They promised that a raft of state taxes would go when the states got their hands on the 10 per cent GST. We did our part of it; we got the 10 per cent GST that went to the states. But, as I said, at the time nearly every state government was a Labor government. So we gave them the 10 per cent, and what happened? Most of them reneged on their promises to reduce state taxes, which was part of the agreement. So for Senator Ludwig to get up and say the Commonwealth government did not remove all of the taxes it promised is wrong. Every tax that was within the power of the Commonwealth government to remove, like export taxes, import taxes—
Senator Colbeck: Wholesale sales tax.
Senator IAN MACDONALD: wholesale sales tax particularly—all went as promised. But the state taxes that the Labor state governments promised they would repeal, they did not. They just took the 10 per cent and kept their economy-destroying taxes.
The Labor Party have never had any credibility when it comes to taxes and the economy. I can tell you that Mr Keating's Labor government actually legislated for a tax reduction before an election. He said, 'I'm legislating for these tax reductions', and it went through parliament, supported by us. The first thing he did when he got re-elected was repeal that reduction of income tax. That is how much you cannot trust Labor on anything to do with taxes at all.
Thanks to Senator Cameron taking up my time with puerile points of order, which he knew were not valid, I have run out of time, which is a great pity because I would love to continue exposing the Labor Party for the frauds and charlatans that the party and their strategies are. Full of issues, full of making up stories that they know are not true; blatant misrepresentations by the Labor Party. No-one is talking about a 15 per cent GST except the Labor Party and the ABC. They are the only ones, and of course the only one who has come forward with a real plan for a 15 per cent GST is the Labor Premier of South Australia. You do not need to be terribly clever to work out who is telling the truth when it comes to questions of tax and the economy. It is certainly not the Labor Party.