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TAX reform is always difficult politically. In 1985, Messrs Keating, Hawke, Crean and Beazley were strong supporters of the introduction of a goods and services tax as a basis for re-forming our tax system and cutting our growing dependency on income taxes.

When the going got tough they retreated quickly.

The Australian people were asked only months ago to vote at a Federal election where a Coalition Government presented a detailed tax reform package – and they won the election.

During the 1993 election campaign, when the Coalition Opposition presented Fightback, Prime Minister Paul Keating said that Labor would not obstruct its passage in the Senate if the Coalition won.

Unfortunately, Kim Beazley plays it differently and has vowed to defeat it at every opportunity.

The result is the Coalition being forced to deal with the Democrats and the Independents and the end product is not all that palatable – but still better than the status quo.

The current package leaves in place some of the more distortive, inefficient and regressive of our current indirect taxes.

For example, if this country is ever to be an international financial centre, taxes such as FID and debits tax must be abolished at the same time as the Fed-eral Government changes its tax regime on overseas banking transactions.

We are particularly concerned with the number of ‘environmental’ commitments that have been included in the tax agreement – particularly talk of the Federal Government being able to apply a Greenhouse trigger on new energy projects in our state.

Fortunately, there are still substantial benefits for our exports sector and long overdue but reduced income tax cuts.

Canberra is still struggling to accept the states need to be involved with critical negotiations covering both national taxation reform and Commonwealth-State financial arrangements.

Put simply, for lasting reform of our Federal arrangements there must be agreement between the States, Territories and Federal Government.

It cannot be achieved by Canberra acting alone.



SEEING the renewed damage during a visit to Moora after the second flood in two months, I was struck by the determination of so many people to persevere and fight on.

I was also impressed again by the incredible support by so many volunteers – a feature in each of the clean-up operations after the floods and the cyclones at Onslow and Exmouth.

I was therefore particularly pleased during the Western Australian Citizen of the Year Awards to be able to present the inaugural Spirit of WA Award to representatives from 26 key organisations involved in these actions.

The award acknowledges the unique way in which the people of Western Australia never fail to rally together to support each other in times of trouble and extreme hardship.

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