MATTERS OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE - Taxation


Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (16:24): I hope that, in making a speech on negative gearing, Senator Cameron has talked to some of his colleagues in the Labor Party in the Senate who, I read in the paper, take advantage of negative gearing. Perhaps that is why he is such an expert; he has had some discussions with them. But I always find it difficult to follow Senator Cameron in a debate, because how do you argue that Snow White was not pure? How do you argue against a fairy story? What you heard from Senator Cameron today—and often—is pure fantasy.

I have been around this parliament for a while, and the only piece of serious taxation reform that has ever been introduced into this parliament in the long time I have been here has been introduced by Liberal-National Party governments. In 1998, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007 the coalition cut general taxes for everyone. We also abandoned Labor's carbon tax and mining tax. We are the party of reduced taxes—of lower tax—and more sensible government spending. The Labor Party are all about just taxing, taxing and taxing.

I was in this parliament before an election that the Labor Party thought they were going lose. They legislated—the one time they did legislate—for tax cuts for the general taxpaying population. They actually legislated for it. Unexpectedly, they won the election, and the first thing they did in the new parliament was repeal the legislation that they had passed a couple of months earlier. So how can anyone have any credible thoughts about the Labor Party when it comes to taxation and economics? We all know that the binding tax introduced by the self-appointed 'world's greatest Treasurer' was a tax that raised no money. That is the extent of the Labor Party's taxation involvement.

I keep saying—and nobody has been able to prove me wrong—that there is only one coalition person who ever mentioned the 15 per cent GST, and that was me when I made public to the Treasurer that I would not be supporting it, for reasons I mentioned then. The only other people I heard talking about the 15 per cent GST were Labor politician after Labor politician after Labor politician—led by the Labor Premier of South Australia. So I just cannot understand how Senator Cameron could come in here and deliver a fairy story about taxation and economic reform and expect anybody to believe him.

The GST had to happen in Australia. It was not always popular—it was a very difficult thing to do—but it was needed. We did not just promise it. We took it to an election and said to people: if you elect us, this is what is going to happen. It will be good for the country. It will be good for you. But, most importantly, it will be good for your kids and grandkids—and Australia supported us. We had a mandate and we introduced it. But, in the months leading up to that election on the GST, the Labor Party slammed the GST and said: we will abolish this should we get into power. That was Labor's policy: abolish the GST. Now, as things would happen, Labor eventually got into power. Did they abolish the GST? Did they take any steps at all towards abolishing the GST? They just took the money and ran and talked about increasing taxes even further. They have no credibility whatsoever in relation to taxation.

The Australian voters are not mugs. The Labor Party are not mugs either, I have to say. If you talk to anyone seriously, they say: we love having Labor there because they spend all this money. They do things that we think we will benefit from. Then we suddenly work out that it is costing us money, so we know that we have to elect Liberal-National Party governments so that the economy can get back on track yet again. It is a common saying. It is what they talk about at barbecues: we give Labor a go every now and again. They get a new leader who looks different, like Mr Rudd—

Senator O'Sullivan: Ms Gillard.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: I am trying to think of the new member of the Senate who has just entered the chamber. They have attractive looking—

Senator Payne: It's Senator Gallagher.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: Senator Gallagher, thank you. I keep confusing her, because I get the pronunciation wrong, with Senator Alex Gallacher. Senator Gallagher looks good. Had some wins, apparently, in the ACT. But you need more than people who look good like Mr Rudd. People liked him, they responded to him, but they quickly saw that he was just another Labor leader and, as soon as was possible, the people of Australia got rid of him.

I want to make this point yet again, as I often do: people say, and the Labor Party says, the government should spend this, the government should spend more and more. I keep saying to people the government does not have any money at all. The government does not spend money. The government just uses taxpayers' money, and taxpayers, strangely enough, never want to give us more money to spend. This is the conundrum that unfortunately the Labor Party never understand. The suggestion of Labor having good economic management is nothing but a fairy story, and I know that most people of Australia understand that.

 

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