Page 1332 - Week 05 - Tuesday, 9 May 2006

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MR MULCAHY (Molonglo) (10.33): I would like to make some concluding observations. There were nine amendments introduced in relation to this bill, seven of which the opposition have supported and one which the opposition did not support and on which the government backed down—that was the matter of sales tax on new motor vehicles. There is no need to canvass the detail of the arguments here. The point I want to make is that the government’s attempt to base sales tax on the list price, rather than on the actual purchase price of a car, reflected the government’s failure to consult with the affected parties.

The government failed to consult with the motor vehicle dealers and seemed to believe that it did not have a need to do so. Naturally they were outraged and made extensive representations not only to the opposition but also to the government. It seemed initially that there was casual indifference in relation to this matter, although it was evident from my discussions with the former Treasurer that he was not across the detail of the consequences of this and what it would mean when the measures were first introduced. The government also failed to consult with other users—customers. It did not raise its proposal with the NRMA or any of the other motoring bodies. It all seems rather elementary that you would take these steps when bringing in legislation that would have such a specific effect on one industry sector. It really raises a question as to why the government failed to embark on this consultation.

It also beggars belief that no-one in the former minister’s offices or in cabinet picked up how absurd the initially advanced proposal was. No-one with any experience of life expects the asking price of a car to be the ultimate sale price; so it is curious how this ever slipped through the regulatory process. Sadly, this reflects an administration that is becoming increasingly out of touch with everyday life and one which feels itself to be immune from the concerns of people whose decisions it affects. There is a measure of arrogance that goes with believing you can do what you like with majority government.

The other proposal the opposition sought to change was to remove the draconian penalty for not registering within seven days for payroll tax. Notwithstanding the advice that this could not be changed, I understand from other discussions with Treasury that there have been negotiations going with interstate treasuries to look at changing these arrangements. Threatening individuals with penalties of $25,000 and threatening corporations with penalties of $250,000 if they fail to comply with the seven-day rule is extraordinarily harsh for a government that purports to present itself as friendly to business and to be encouraging business to move into this territory. It seems to have a measure of retribution against an employer with any reasonable payroll; and it certainly does not send a message that the penalty is appropriate for the oversight, which is probably more likely the case, when somebody is outside the seven-day period. On that point, I conclude my remarks.

Bill, as amended, agreed to.

Standing orders—suspension

Motion (by Mr Corbell) agreed to, with the concurrence of an absolute majority:

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