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Changes to the Goods and services tax (GST)
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Changes to the Goods and services tax (GST)

GST - basic food GST-free

This measure makes food for human consumption GST-free, except for food supplied in the course of catering (including prepared meals, takeaway foods and restaurants), alcoholic beverages, soft drinks and similar beverages and certain non-staple food items such as confectionery, ice cream and snack foods. The precise definition of taxable food will be finalised after consultation with the Australian Democrats, to ensure that it meets the design principles expressed in the Australian Democrats’ circulated amendment.

GST - higher financial services input tax credits

A partial input tax credit will be provided for the purchase of a specified list of services used to make financial supplies. The partial credit rate will be set to ensure that there is no bias between insourcing and outsourcing a listed service. This measure will particularly benefit smaller organisations in the financial sector like credit unions, which operate with a large range of outsourced activities. There will be further discussions between the Government, Australian Democrats and the financial services sector on the resolution of the issues that have been raised in Democrat amendments.

GST - S2 medicines GST-free

This measure makes products on Schedule 2 (S2) of the Standard for the uniform scheduling of drugs and poisons GST-free. Smaller pack sizes of S2 products will also be GST-free.

GST - appropriately qualified naturopaths, acupuncturists and herbalists

This measure expands the range of health professionals who may provide GST-free health services to include appropriately qualified naturopaths, acupuncturists and herbalists. For a transitional period of three years they will be able to provide GST-free services. From 1 July 2003 only practitioners recognised under State law or a national registration scheme will be entitled to provide services GST-free. This will bring the treatment of appropriately qualified naturopaths, acupuncturists and herbalists in line with that of other health service providers. The Commonwealth will reallocate $600,000 over the coming financial year to assist complementary health practitioners towards a registration process.

GST - free public health goods

This measure allows appropriate public health goods to be GST-free. The Minister for Health will be able to make a good GST-free by way of a Ministerial determination, subject to approval of the Ministerial Council (as described in the Intergovernmental Agreement on the Reform of Commonwealth-State Financial Relations ). It is agreed that the Commonwealth will seek the approval of the Ministerial Council to include sunscreens and follate supplements.

GST - Education

This Government will make adult education and training that is likely to develop employment related skills GST-free as per the Democrats circulated amendments. The Minister for Education will be able to make a course GST-free by way of a Ministerial determination subject to approval of the Ministerial Council.

The Government will support the Australian Democrats’ amendment to allow input taxing of school tuckshops, unless continuing consultations can develop more appropriate means to reduce compliance costs for school based organisations.

Higher GST administration costs

Additional funding to cover the increased administrative costs for the Australian Taxation Office arising from the partial removal of food from the GST base will be paid from GST revenues.

GST Transitional Arrangements - sector specific amendments

The transitional arrangements raised by the Australian Democrats will be subject to further consultation between the Australian Democrats and the Government for resolution prior to the passage of the bills.

GST - additional assistance for charities

The Government will assist charitable and not for profit organisations to adjust to the introduction of the GST in several ways, including:

establishing a Charities / Not for Profit consultative committee immediately within the ATO to develop rulings well in advance of the introduction of the GST, to better inform these organisations as to how they will be impacted; ●

establishing ATO teams to assist the sector to implement the GST; and ● in the light of developments with the above, and before 1 July 2000, there will be further consultations as necessary between the Government and the Australian Democrats on the GST impact on charities or any problems arising in the application of rulings to charities.

●

GST - Lifesaving and first aid courses

Lifesaving and first aid courses provided by not for profit organisations will be GST-free.

 Changes to state taxation and funding arrangements

The changes to the GST reduce State and Territory revenues. Accordingly it will be necessary to alter taxation and funding arrangements as follows.

Defer abolition of financial institutions duty (FID)

The abolition of FID will be deferred by six months, from 1 January 2001 to 1 July 2001. The States and Territories would collect all of the revenue from FID while it continues to operate.

Abolition of other State taxes

The States and Territories have agreed to abolish accommodation taxes and stamp duty on marketable securities from 1 July 2000 and 1 July 2001, respectively. This will proceed unchanged.

It is proposed that debits tax be removed by the States and Territories by 1 July 2005.

It is also proposed that the States and Territories defer the abolition of the remaining business stamp duties. This includes stamp duties on business conveyances; leases; mortgages, debentures, bonds and other loan securities; credit arrangements, installment purchase arrangements and rental arrangements; and on cheques, bills of exchange and promissory notes.

Local government funding

The Commonwealth proposes to retain responsibility for the payment of financial assistance grants to local government rather than transfer this responsibility to the States. The Commonwealth agrees that the application of GST to the collection of fees or charges for regulatory and licensing activities will be excluded by a determination under Division 81 of the GST Bill.

Guarantee payments to balance State and Territory budgets

In the Intergovernmental Agreement on the Reform of Commonwealth-State Financial Relations , the Commonwealth agreed to provide financial assistance to the States to cover any temporary shortfall in their budgets resulting from the implementation of tax reform. As a result of the proposed changes to the tax reform package, the Commonwealth will provide increased assistance to balance State and Territory budgets in the transitional years.

Changes to compensation arrangements

Increased Compensation for Pensioners and Allowees

In ANTS, the Government announced that it would provide an up front payment of 4 per cent on 1 July 2000 and put in place indexation arrangements so as to ensure that allowances and pensions increased 1½ per cent in real terms.

The Government has now decided to amend and increase compensation provided to allowees, beneficiaries and pensioners.

Pensions, allowances and benefits will still be increased by 4% on 1 July 2000.

However, the arrangements applying after that date will be modified to provide increased compensation. Compensation will be increased so as to provide for a 2 per cent real increase in allowances and benefits, rather than the 1½% under the original proposals.

The compensation arrangements applying to pensioners will also be revised to ensure that the full 4% compensation is paid on top of the existing legislative requirement to maintain pensions at no less than 25% of male total average weekly earnings (MTAWE).

The 4% increase will be treated as a pension » « supplement payable from 1 July 2000 and indexed to maintain its real value.

This means that the pension will be calculated in two parts:

The base pension which will increase in line with current rules - ie, maintaining CPI indexation arrangements and ensuring that the base pension is at least 25 per cent of MTAWE; and ●

A supplement of 4 per cent of the base pension at 1 July 2000 that is indexed to movements in prices and paid on top of the base pension. ●

The price indexation arrangements for both of these elements will be subject to the operation of a 2% offset from March 2001 so as to avoid giving a double benefit.

Commonwealth - State Housing Agreement (CSHA)

The Commonwealth will as part of a new CSHA negotiate a mechanism with State and Territory Governments to ensure that the increase in pensions and allowances as part of this package will not flow through to increased rents where rent is linked to the level of pension.

Extension of Self-Funded Retirees Supplementary Bonus to retirees aged 55 and over

This measure extends the Self-funded Retirees Supplementary Bonus to persons aged between 55 and age pension age (at 1 July 2000). Self funded retirees in this age group (ie, 55 and over, but below the age pension age) will be required to meet stricter eligibility criteria with respect to the receipt of wage or own business income and social security, so as to ensure that the payment is provided only to genuine self funded retirees. Self funded retirees aged over 55 and up to age pension age will receive up to $2000.

Extension of Family Assistance

In the 1999-2000 Budget, the Government announced that it would extend eligibility for Family Tax Benefit (Part A) to cover young people up to the age of 21 (both job seekers and students) who are not receiving Youth Allowance because of the parental income test. The rate of assistance was set at $37.50 per fortnight. Further, where the rate of Youth Allowance was less than the rate of FTB(A) , they would be able to choose to receive FTB(A). This measure was expected to come into effect from 1 July 2000.

This measure is now to be extended further. The rate of assistance for those aged 18 and over is to be increased to $50 per fortnight and eligibility extended to cover dependent students aged up to the age of 25. This measure will take effect from 1 October 1999 and apply to Family Allowance entitlement, prior to that allowance being incorporated into Family Tax Benefit, Part A from 1 July 2000.

Review of Adequacy of Compensation

The Government’s revised package significantly increases the already substantial compensation provided to offset the price impact of the GST. However, to ensure that the integrity of the Government’s compensation package is protected, the Government will commission an independent review of the adequacy of compensation arrangements in 2003.

GST Assistance Scheme for Low Income Persons

The Commonwealth will establish a scheme to provide assistance to low income persons who identify themselves as outside the income tax and social security systems and therefore ineligible for the compensation provided in this package. Eligible persons will be able to apply to receive capped payments to offset the net price effects of the GST.

Sole Parent Families

The Prime Minister will consult the Leader of the Australian Democrats to ensure that sole parent families are not significantly disadvantaged by the tax package.

changes TO income tax cuts and other Commonwealth Budget items

The Commonwealth Government will incur higher costs, mainly due to directly funding local government and increased compensation payments. In the short term, the Commonwealth will also have to provide increased assistance to the States.

The following measures will be taken to fund the increased costs incurred by the Commonwealth.

Reduced Personal Income Tax Cuts for Higher Income Earners

The Government will continue to deliver the full income tax cuts provided in the ANTS package for all taxpayers with incomes up to $50,000 per annum.

The tax cuts for those earning over $50,000 will be reduced by increasing the proposed 40% rate bracket to 42%, and reducing the proposed threshold for the top rate of 47% from $75,000 to $60,000.

The changes are further illustrated in the following table.

Income Range ($) Existing Tax Scale ANTS proposal Revised Scale

50,001- 60,000 47 40 42

60,001- 75,000 47 40 47

75,000+ 47 47 47

On-Road Diesel Rebate

ANTS proposed reducing the effective diesel excise paid by on-road vehicles weighing more than 3.5 tonnes to 18 cents a litre. The on-road diesel rebate will be modified with the result that the effective diesel excise will become 20 cents a litre for qualifying vehicles as discussed below.

Changes to On-Road Diesel Rebate: Qualifying Vehicles

The modified proposal preserves most of the lower cost benefits of the diesel credits for rural and regional Australia, where transport

costs are more pronounced, while addressing concerns relating to the environmental impact of diesel use in large cities by reducing the range of vehicles eligible for diesel credits. It is proposed to limit access to this credit to:

all vehicles over 20 tonnes GVM; and ● regional transport vehicles weighing between 4.5 and 20 tonnes GVM that undertake their operations in service of regional areas. ●

The regional transport credit would cover all trucks over 4.5 tonnes operated by a GST registered entity. Operators would have to identify to the ATO the number, type(s), and registration numbers of vehicles undertaking rural and regional operations.

Regional would be defined as excluding all mainland capital cities (except for Darwin) and the large conurbations of Newcastle - Sydney - Wollongong, Melbourne - Geelong and the Gold Coast - Brisbane - Sunshine Coast. This means the concession would cover large regional centres, rural cities (eg Wagga Wagga), towns and all of Tasmania. Regional transport operations would include travel between regional centres and metropolitan areas, as well as intrastate and interstate operations. Transport operations within a capital city or conurbation (as outlined above) would be excluded.

Arrangements for claiming the credit will be determined after further consultation with the industry and the Democrats, with the objective of simplifying record keeping, particularly for low volume operators, while limiting the scope for abuse. A metropolitan based business with regional operations would be required to keep appropriate records in all cases and would only be eligible for rural and regional operations.

The Government will put in place rigorous enforcement measures to police the scheme subject to further consultations with the Australian Democrats.

Off-Road Diesel and Like Fuels

The extension to the off-road concession for diesel and like fuels will be limited to providing full credits for marine use, bush nursing homes, hospitals, nursing homes, aged persons homes and private residences, but not for construction, power generation, manufacturing or forestry. The proposed full credit for mining currently accessing the DRFS will be maintained.

Increased Assistance for Supported Accommodation

Additional funding will be provided to the supported accommodation programme (SAP) which delivers assistance to homeless people who are disadvantaged, in crisis and/or on low incomes. This will augment funding for SAP provided in the 1999-00 Budget.

Assistance for Book Writing and Production

Substantial funds will be provided in the form of a book production bounty and grants for Australian writers.

Assistance to the Arts

The Government will review the need for additional assistance to the arts in the light of the Nugent Review of arts funding with a view to ensuring that the arts are not adversely affected by the impact of the GST.

National Child Nutrition Project

Nutrition has a direct impact on our health and diet is closely linked to major diseases such as cardiovascular disease, many cancers and diabetes. We will reallocate $15m over three years to promote better nutrition in the young by targeting primary and pre-school children.

An announcement on the details of this project will be shortly made jointly by the Minister for Health and Aged Care and the Leader of the Australian Democrats.

MEASURES FOR A BETTER ENVIRONMENT

Greenhouse Gas Abatement Programme

The Government will commit a further sum of $100m per year to support greenhouse abatement programmes to further assist Australia in meeting its Kyoto commitments. This will significantly build upon the Prime Minister’s previously announced $180m Greenhouse Programme (November 1997) which is presently being implemented.

The Government, drawing on advice from the Australian Greenhouse Office, will develop options which will have maximum carbon reduction or sink enhancement capacity. The Australian Democrats will be consulted in the development of these options.

The Government in making programme choices will also take into account such matters as the potential for employment growth, new technologies, innovative processes, export potential and the capacity of the programme to act as a catalyst for further non-government investment. Particular attention will be given to opportunities in rural and regional Australia.

Programme details will be announced in due course.

Greenhouse: National Environmental Significance

Greenhouse issues are treated as a matter of national environmental significance in the COAG Agreement on Commonwealth/State Roles and Responsibilities for the Environment.

However the COAG Agreement does not identify greenhouse issues as a trigger for environmental assessment and approval under Commonwealth legislation.

The COAG Agreement provides that further triggers will not be added other than in consultation with the States.

The COAG Agreement was endorsed prior to the national commitments Australia made under the Climate Change Convention at Kyoto in November 1997 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Government intends that upon passage of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Bill 1998 it will commence a process of consultation with the States and other stakeholders on the issue of applying a Commonwealth greenhouse trigger under that legislation in relation to new projects that would be major emitters of greenhouse gases.

Incentive for Switch to Lower Sulphur Diesels

Differential excise treatment of low and high sulphur diesel will provide an incentive to switch demand and speed the introduction of new refinery capital investment over the period 2000 to 2005, and restrict diesel eligible for fuel credits to ultra low sulphur diesel 50ppm (0.005%) from 2006.

Sulphur levels in diesel are currently on average 1300 parts per million (ppm). Europe will move to a standard of 50ppm in 2005. The earliest date at which any significant domestic production of diesel at 50ppm will occur is 2000, at which time the BP refinery in Brisbane will commence production. It is unlikely to be able to produce more than one eighth of Australian demand. Design and construction of a desulphurisation plant takes of the order of 4 years from the date of decision. Accordingly, it is unlikely that other significant domestic capacity to produce 50ppm diesel could be available before 2003.

While the earliest feasible introduction of Ultra Low Sulphur Diesel (ULSD) is the aim, there will be advantage in the earlier introduction of an intermediate level product. Reduction of sulphur levels to 500ppm is necessary to enable the introduction of Euro 2 standards for light diesel vehicles. This can occur progressively, initially focussing on urban areas, and with sufficient capacity being available to supply the whole Australian market by the end of 2002.

Speeding the introduction and use of low sulphur diesels market will be encouraged by:

Negotiation with the oil majors of the early voluntary introduction of diesel at 500ppm in urban areas in 2000, on a best endeavours basis. ●

Diesel standard set at 500ppm by the end of 2002 for road transport fuel. ● An increase in the diesel excise for high sulphur fuel above 50ppm so that the relevant effective diesel excise payable increases by ●

1 cent per litre from 1 January 2003 ❍ 2 cents per litre from 1 January 2004. ❍ Private users and urban transport will also have an incentive to use ULSD due to the excise difference. ● Introducing a mandatory fuel standard of 50ppm (through a NEPM, equivalent legislative device or by use of the definition in the diesel fuel credit scheme) in 2006. ●

This would facilitate the introduction of the following diesel vehicle emission standards:

Euro 2 2002/3 all new diesel vehicles ● Euro 3 2002/3 new medium and heavy diesel vehicles ● Euro 4 2006/7 all new diesel vehicles. ●

The one year lag from European adoption of Euro 4 in 2005 reflects the practicality of introducing vehicle support and maintenance infrastructure.

This initiative will require a major financial commitment from the Australian refinery industry (particularly when linked with a move to higher octane rating and lower sulphur for petrol products).

Bring forward the introduction of new petrol vehicle and fuel standards

Euro 2 vehicle emission standards for new vehicles will be introduced from 2003 and from 2004 for continuing models.

Euro 3 vehicle emission standards will be introduced from 2005 and from 2006 for continuing models.

The timetable for the introduction of Euro 2 needs to allow domestic vehicle manufacturers sufficient lead time to source new engine technology. The Government is satisfied that the timetable set out above can be achieved without disrupting the domestic industry.

Euro 3 will offer further gains, particularly in "in service" performance, because of its requirements for on-board diagnostics. It does, however, demand significantly lower sulphur levels from petrol. It also requires higher octane, which in turn will facilitate the introduction of direct injection engines. These engines are important to meeting fuel efficiency and greenhouse targets. The earliest possible date for introduction is likely to be 2005/6.

Euro 4 is not yet sufficiently defined for petrol engines to enable a date for adoption to be set.

Maintain the current price relativities between Diesel and CNG and other alternative transport fuels, by making those transport applications that are eligible for the diesel fuel credit also eligible for "clean fuel" credits

Diesel is currently excised at 43c/l, and CNG and other alternative fuels (such as LPG, ethanol and other renewable fuels) are excise free. ANTS will reduce the effective diesel excise rate for operators of large vehicles.

ANTS will affect the economics of alternative fuel use by pushing out pay back periods for conversion or reducing price incentives. Restoring the existing price differential, in conjunction with a conversion assistance programme for gaseous fuels, will encourage wider

use of alternative fuels and improve air quality and greenhouse gas emissions.

Alternative transport fuels such as CNG, LPG and recycled waste oil; and renewable transport fuels such as ethanol, canola oil (and other fuels certified as renewable by the CEO of the Australian Greenhouse Office); will attract clean fuel credits. A credit of around 16 cents per litre will apply to retain price relativities between clean fuels and diesel. For example, the credit for CNG will be approximately 12.5 cents per litre. Vehicles using these fuels will be required to meet relevant emissions standards.

A subsidy programme for conversion of CNG vehicles and LPG vehicles over 3.5 tonnes GVM to complement the CNG Infrastructure Programme

The Government will provide an ongoing assistance programme for conversion of buses and other commercial vehicles to CNG and LPG where it meets strict environmental conditions. This will support the conversion of half the urban bus fleet to gas by 2015.

No assistance is currently available for conversion to CNG or for the additional costs of their purchase as new original equipment. Conversion costs vary widely depending upon the vehicle classes, ranging from around $2500 to around $10,000 for a large bus. For LPG, the cost of conversion ranges up to $13,000.

The programme provides funding, initially over four years, for a 50% rebate for conversions to CNG and LPG for buses and other commercial vehicles.

The programme will be delivered by the Australian Greenhouse Office to complement the existing CNG infrastructure programme (and to use the administrative arrangements already in place). The programme will encourage the conversion of 800 buses and up to 4000 commercial vehicles a year over the first four years.

100% excise credit for rail transport

The rail sector will be entitled to a full excise credit.

Rail transport is significantly less energy intensive than road transport. It is not a significant contributor to urban air pollution. Removing all excise from the rail sector will improve its competitive position as compared to road and provide a benefit to regional Australia.

Oil Recycling Infrastructure

The Commonwealth will fund the development of a comprehensive product stewardship arrangement and provide transitional assistance to ensure the environmentally sustainable management and re-refining of waste oil and its reuse. It will support economic recycling options and the development of stewardship arrangements. Any diesel extenders or other products manufactured from recycled oil will be required to meet the relevant Commonwealth environmental standards.

The long term solution to avoiding environmentally damaging disposal of waste oil is the development of an effective product stewardship partnership linking the oil companies, the States and the Commonwealth.

A stewardship programme will see the oil companies progressively assuming a greater share of these costs.

Grant Programme to meet half the costs of household Photo-Voltaic Systems to a maximum of $5,500 per household

Cash rebates will be offered to householders who install rooftop and building-integrated photo-voltaic (PV) systems, to a maximum of half of the system capital costs .

Photo-voltaic (PV) cells and solar thermal collectors will be subject to GST under ANTS.

The Government has decided to introduce a grants programme to more than offset the estimated net cost impact of GST for these products.

This measure will not cover solar hot water systems because these systems benefit strongly from the +2% renewables target under the Government’s greenhouse programme.

The programme will be delivered by the Australian Greenhouse Office.

An investment programme for renewable energy to offset the impact of GST on purchases of Green Power

The Commonwealth will fund a programme equivalent in size to the net effect of the GST on purchases of Green Power, to boost the commercialisation of renewable energy.

Due to the small volume of transactions for Green Power schemes (estimated by AGO to be approximately 1% of serviced customers in 1999/2000), it would be administratively complex to exclude Green Power from GST.

This programme will be administered by the Australian Greenhouse Office, building on the successful Renewable Energy Commercialisation Programme, effectively doubling its expenditure.

Grant scheme for remote (off-grid) electricity users to convert to renewable energy systems

The Government will retain the excise on diesel used for power generation and will use the funds to finance a Special Purpose Payments for the States. To be eligible for the programme States will have to commit to continue to cross subsidise remote power costs for domestic users and to use the funds to provide cash rebates of up to 50% of the capital value of renewable remote area power systems.

Some $66m a year is collected from (publicly-owned) power utilities in excise on diesel for power generation, mostly from WA (around $30m), with smaller amounts from QLD, NT and SA.

Cash rebates up to 50% of the capital value of renewable remote area power systems (RAPs) will be offered, where it can be demonstrated that the RAPs system will replace existing diesel generation or for new systems. The programme will be administered through the States by the Australian Greenhouse Office.

Diesel NEPM

In November 1996 work commenced on a proposal for a National Environment Protection Measure (NEPM) through the National Environment Protection Council to reduce the impact of diesel emissions on ambient air quality.

The Commonwealth will develop a diesel NEPM to be introduced as soon as possible and specifically address the issue of emissions from the in-service diesel fleet.

Emissions from the stock of existing diesel vehicles make up the bulk of particle pollution in urban areas. New vehicle standards only progressively improve performance as the stock is turned over. It is therefore important to minimise pollution from existing vehicles.

To this end, the Commonwealth will provide resources with a view to ensuring that the NEPM can be developed over two years and establish:

in-service emission tests/inspection protocols and programmes for diesel vehicles; ● a minimum performance standard for all in-service diesel vehicles which were not certified to an agreed international standard at the time they entered the market; and ●

in-service emission standards, based on compliance with original certification standards, for all diesel vehicles certified to international standards (Euro 2, 3 etc). ●

The Commonwealth will also explore the option of extending the use of these testing facilities to an inspection and maintenance programme for petrol vehicles.

Ensure that motor vehicles retrofitted with imported second hand diesel engines meet Australian emission standards

The import of second hand diesel engines which fail to meet current Australian emission standards will be prohibited.

Around 5,000 second hand, replacement diesel engines enter Australia each year. Many of these engines generate emissions which exceed current Australian standards.

Australian Design Rules ADR 70 (emissions) and ADR 30 (smoke) are applied to vehicles first entering Australia. When an engine has been replaced, the owner is required to demonstrate compliance with the vehicle’s design standard, or the design standard of the engine, if that is newer. However, the States do not afford a high priority to policing this requirement and for older vehicles the standards can allow significantly higher pollution than contemporary and proposed Australian standards.

The scheme will be implemented either under Customs legislation or by an amendment of the Motor Vehicle Standards Act to provide for regulation of imported diesel engines installed in in-service vehicles.

Energy Credit Scheme

This scheme will be developed jointly by the Government and the Australian Democrats. It will replace the diesel fuel credit scheme on 1 July 2002 by a jointly sponsored bill. The existing Diesel Fuel Credit scheme will have a sunset clause expiring on 30 June 2002. The Energy Credit Scheme will provide price incentives and funding for conversion from the dirtiest fuels to the most appropriate and cleanest fuels.

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