QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
GOODS AND SERVICES TAX ON WATER AND SEWERAGE SERVICES
The Hon. M. R. EGAN: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Planning and Minister for Housing. Has the Minister ascertained the likely impact of the Federal coalition's goods and services tax proposals on water and sewerage charges? How much would a 15 per cent GST add to the average household water bill? Will the Minister assure the New South Wales public that a GST will not apply to the annual $80 environmental levy?
The Hon. R. J. WEBSTER: I would have thought that the issue in the forefront of honourable members' minds today would have been unemployment, not the GST.
The Hon. M. R. Egan: But it has only gone up in one State. Guess which State?
The Hon. R. J. WEBSTER: My dear friend and colleague the Minister for Education and Youth Affairs and Minister for Employment and Training has just handed me the figures. We are talking about more than one million Australians out of work after 10 long years of Labor Government.
The Hon. Franca Arena: Tell us about New South Wales.
The Hon. R. J. WEBSTER: Be quiet because I have something important to tell you. All honourable members will be interested in this. In my research into the Leader of the Opposition I came across an interesting quotation. He must have been a dashing, fresh-faced young fellow when he said this as the member for Cronulla in the other place on 8th November, 1978.
The Hon. Virginia Chadwick: That was before he lost his seat in the other place.
The Hon. R. J. WEBSTER: That was before he lost his seat.
The PRESIDENT: Order! The answer to the question is most interesting, but it is impossible to hear.
The Hon. R. J. WEBSTER: I know what it is like to lose a seat, so I have some sympathy for my friend and colleague opposite.
Just be quiet until I tell you what the Leader of the Opposition said on 8th November, 1978. He said, "It should hardly be necessary to say that the major objective of every government in Australia today should be the restoration of full employment". What do we have after 10 years of Labor government? More than one million people are unemployed and all that the Leader of the Opposition can do is apologise for the fact that the unemployment rate has gone up by only 0.1 per cent or has gone down by 0.1 per cent. The unemployment rate of 11.1 per cent or 11.2 per cent, which occurred under the Federal Labor Government in Canberra, is too high. Honourable members opposite should be ashamed of the fact that after 10 years of Labor Government and after 10 years of Keating as Treasurer and then Prime Minister we have this sorry state of affairs. If ever anyone has failed in his aims as a politician it is that once fresh-faced Leader of the Opposition who said that full employment should be the major objective of every government in Australia. If it was his major objective he has failed and, after 10 years, the Federal Labor Government in Canberra has failed. That is the issue on which people will vote on Saturday - not the GST and not the other red herrings that have been dragged around.
The Hon. Dr Meredith Burgmann: What about the Water Board?
The Hon. R. J. WEBSTER: There is nothing wrong with the water produced by the Water Board. I drink lots of it every day. It is beautiful. The key issue in Saturday's election campaign will be unemployment. That has been put fairly and squarely back on the table today. I look forward to coming back into this House in two weeks' time and gloating over a coalition victory.