Senator FIFIELD (Victoria) (3.34 p.m.)-Listening to Senator Collins and Senator Crossin, you could be forgiven for thinking that Labor when in government actually ran a generous and efficient social welfare system. Neither is true. We heard from Senator Patterson earlier today that Graham Richardson, when he was social security minister, said that social security under Labor was trim, taut and terrific. You could have got the impression that the system was as tight as a drum. The reality is that, under Labor, people could get away with overpayments. Under this government we are saving $44 million per week, or $6.3 million per day, or $22,000 every other minute. Centrelink is undertaking its usual compliance program. Any statements to the contrary are just false. We on this side of the house believe that people should be entitled only to money which they are due. Whether it is the tax system or the social security system, the Australian public think that if you are entitled to a payment it is fine but you are entitled only to what is your due. In the tax system, people should pay their fair share but no more. In the social security system, people should receive their entitlement but no more, and if there is a mistake on their part then they should pay it back. This government has not suspended compliance activity.
We on this side of the house also believe it is a good thing to put more money into the pockets of Australian families. We think it is a good thing that there is a $19 billion package of family assistance. We think it is a good thing that under this government people will have a minimum family payment of $1,615 compared to $600 under Labor. We also think that Australians should have the right to determine what they do with that money. It is the most outrageous paternalism I have heard in a long time that certain Australians should not be trusted with those $600 payments. That sort of paternalism is something that I thought we had left behind. To claim that these payments are leading to an increase in gambling is outrageous. If senators opposite have an issue with gaming they should take it up with the state Labor governments, which are addicted to gaming revenues. State Labor governments are more than happy to take those revenues. If you have an issue with gaming, take it up with them.
We have not heard Labor express concern before about the failure of the government to seek to recoup overpayments. It is very interesting that we are hearing this now. I think the reason for it is the same as the reason for the PBS backflip: Labor have a budget black hole. Labor always have a budget black hole. We remember the Beazley black hole, we remember the Latham Liverpool black hole of $2.7 million, and we saw Michael Egan’s budget black hole in New South Wales. Labor have a problem and they know it. They know they have to fix it. That is why Labor are now paying attention to recouping overpayments-because they are desperate to pursue every avenue to fund their policies. Labor need to detail to this chamber their revenue policy. On the Jon Faine program Mark Latham promised to release his tax policy in the week of the budget, detailing how he would provide tax relief for PAYE taxpayers. Mark Latham told us-
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Knowles)-‘Mr Latham’, please.
Senator FIFIELD-Mr Latham told us that when he became opposition leader there was going to be a big, bold, ambitious, almost Whitlamite program. All we have seen is junk food, free books, and plastic bags. How can Labor tax less, spend more and have more money left over? Labor have to give us their tax policy. Their tax policy, I think, will have three elements: an increase in company tax, an increased focus on debt recovery and a sleeper. Labor hold office in every state and every territory, and we know that to increase the rate of the GST you need not only the agreement of both houses of this parliament but also the agreement of every state and territory. If Labor win the next election, they will be in a unique position to increase the GST. Federal Labor would keep the difference between the current take- (Time expired)