Peter Costello

Media Transcripts

Labor's tax chaos


Transcript No. 2000/30

The Hon Peter Costello MP

Parliament House
Friday, 18 February 2000
4.00 pm

SUBJECTS: Labor’s tax chaos


Well the Labor Party today is in a state of absolute chaos. Mr Beazley has announced that he wants to roll back the GST and has guaranteed the States full revenue that an unrolled back GST provides. That means he either drives the Commonwealth Budget into serious deficit, paying the States money he doesn’t have, or more likely he has to put up income tax. What Labor has today pledged to do, is to put up income taxes. That is the only way they will be able to make good on this promise. Mr Beazley says he will guarantee the States full revenue from the GST, which he intends to roll back which will deny them revenue, which he will have to make up from the source of revenue which is left to the Commonwealth Government, namely income taxes.

Labor’s policy today has been exposed. They want higher income taxes. The talk about the roll back of GST is another name for putting up income taxes. Yesterday I challenged Mr Beazley to make one promise to the Australian people. I said if you’re so against GST why not repeal it. He went on TV last night and he said he would repeal it before 1 July, but he won’t repeal it after 1 July. In other words he won’t repeal it if he ever becomes Prime Minister, he’d only repeal it while John Howard is Prime Minister. He’s prepared to lead as long as he’s got someone to follow, was what he was saying in Channel 9. He then goes off to Hobart, he meets the Labor leaders, he pledges he’s going to keep the GST, roll it back, guarantee the income. And the only way he can do it is by pushing up income taxes.

Every time you hear Mr Beazley say he’s going to roll back GST, listen, because he’s saying he’s going to put up income tax. That’s what it means. It’s been publicly displayed today. And the Labor Party policy is in absolute chaos.


Is this the worst of all worlds for voters?


Well this is now a man who has been sitting on a policy, which he was forced yesterday by what happened in the House, by his dismal performance in the House, to go out and to make clear today. He’s been saying he wants to roll back the GST, because he wants to put up income taxes. And there it is. It’s there in black and white today. He’s guaranteed the revenue and it can only come from one place. Labor stands for higher income taxes. That’s the policy that he was goaded into releasing today, and the rest has just been an elaborate cover.


What about the deficit Mr Costello?


Well Mr Beazley will probably end up doing both. He’ll probably end up putting up income taxes and driving the Budget into deficit, which as we know the Labor Party made a habit of doing the last time it was in government. Let’s be honest about this. Mr Beazley was the Finance Minister for the Commonwealth Government for two years. In that time he accumulated a deficit of 23 thousands of millions of dollars.

Ask Mr Beazley how many budget surpluses he ever presided over. None. Ask him how many budget deficits he presided over. Two out of two. Strike rate 100%. 23 thousand millions of dollars. Now if he were to get back and he were to run a deficit again, what that means is that you would not only be driving up your income tax rates, you would be driving up your interest rates as well, and plunging Australia into deficit. Today we have seen the Opposition Leader reveal his secret agenda. All the way along the path this argument about rolling back GST has been about one thing, rolling up income taxes.


Doesn’t he have other options, like he could close off tax loopholes, tax trusts, you know all the other stuff?


It’s already factored into the budget. All of the Government’s policies in that area, are already factored into the budget. So that if he wants to roll back the GST and guarantee the revenues to the States, he can roll up his deficits and he can put up income taxes, but that is all he can do.


If the Budget ends up in deficit, it sounds like a recipe for calling in the IMF under Labor.


Well, the Government’s tax policy was described by the IMF during the week as landmark taxation reform. Why doesn’t Mr Beazley send his tax policy off to the IMF for its assessment. I think the IMF would have no trouble in describing a policy to drive up the deficit as threatening confidence in Australian markets and I think they would have no trouble either, in describing a policy of driving up income tax rates as a policy which would stunt Australia’s growth. I mean this is twin nightmare, double trouble. Kim Beazley on the ropes, down and out, now exposed wandering around looking for a ray of light and just holding out an absolute policy of despair for Australia.

18 Mar 2000

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