QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
Thursday 28th May 1998
Ms HANSON--My question is to the Prime Minister. Prime Minister, the great Australian dream is to own your own home. Will the many materials currently exempt from sales tax that are used for the construction or repair of homes and other buildings, such as timber, concrete, roofing and plumbing, be exempt when you introduce your GST? Will the currently sales tax exempt items important for rural Australians, such as water tanks and stands, be exempt from your GST? If these and the many other basic building materials currently not subject to sales tax are not exempt from your GST, will it be more expensive for Australians to buy and maintain their homes?
Mr HOWARD--I am very interested that the honourable member has raised the great Australian dream. One of the greatest contributions that you can make to buying a home in this country is having record low housing interest rates. I would remind her and everybody who sits opposite that my government has delivered the lowest housing interest rates that this country has had since the 1960s, that it is my government that has cut interest rates by $330 a month on the average loan, and that it is my government that has delivered interest rate cuts that are worth the equivalent of a $100-a-week wage rise for the average wage and salary earner in Australia. So the message out of that is that, if you want to enjoy the great Australian dream, there are only two parties to vote for--that is, the Liberal Party or the National Party.
Mr Kerr--Why don't you answer your little friend Pauline Hanson's question about the GST?
Mr SPEAKER--Under standing order 304A, I ask the member for Denison, who has been warned and who has been persistently interjecting, to leave the House for one hour.
The honourable member for Denison thereupon withdrew from the chamber.
Mr HOWARD--The honourable member for Oxley's raising the great Australian dream gives me an opportunity to remind her and those who sit opposite not only of the way in which housing interest rates have fallen but also, of course, that when the Labor Party was in power housing interest rates in this country climbed to levels that had not been experienced at any time since the end of World War II. In the early 1990s, housing interest rates in Australia went to 17 1/2 per cent. Now they are in the order of six, seven or eight per cent. In other words, they are down at levels that were undreamt of by Australians only a few short years ago. The most comprehensive legacy in the past 2 1/4 years that my government has given to the average Australian has been to bring those housing interest rates down.
The other message that I would give to the member for Oxley is that, if the Labor Party were to be elected to the government benches at the next election, those low interest rates would be at risk because the tax and spend policies of a Beazley Labor government would drive interest rates up again. As sure as one can be of anything in Australian politics, if Labor again becomes the government of this country all of those low interest rates will disappear. They will disappear very quickly. Just as Labor ran a high interest rate policy when it was in government before, it will run a high interest rate policy if it is in government again.
Mr Campbell--Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order.
Mr SPEAKER--The Prime Minister will resume his seat. The member for Kalgoorlie on a point of order.
Mr Campbell--I think the Prime Minister has finished actually, so it now irrelevant.
Mr SPEAKER--I do not think the Prime Minister has concluded. Have you concluded, Prime Minister?
Mr HOWARD--No, I have not.
Mr SPEAKER--The member for Kalgoorlie on a point of order.
Mr Campbell--Quite clearly, it is on the point of relevance. We are talking about the relevant cost of materials. Why does the Prime Minister not tell us about the record interest rates he had in 1982?
Mr SPEAKER--The member for Kalgoorlie will resume his seat.
Mr HOWARD--I am glad the member for Oxley asked me about the great Australian dream, because the great Australian dream is of enormous importance to all Australians. So far as the impact of tax reform on the housing industry is concerned, I can assure the honourable member for Oxley that the building industry and all allied industries in this country--like all other sections of the Australian business community--will welcome the tax reform package when it is announced.