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Thursday, 25 November 1999
Page: 12637

Mr CREAN (11:50 AM) —I move opposition amendment (1):

(1) Schedule 1, Part 1, page 5 (after line 15), after item 11, insert:

11A After section 29-80


29-90 Tax receipts

When a business provides a consumer with a receipt or docket issued in respect of a taxable supply the receipt or docket must separately include:

(a) the price of the goods or services excluding the GST;

(b) the amount of the GST; and

(c) the total price including the GST.

This amendment goes to tax receipts and the requirement for the government to come clean about what this tax actually involves when people make a purchase. The amendment seeks again to get the House to consider a requirement that, if we are going to get the GST, the government at least be brave enough to show people how much they are being taxed—don't hide it. At the moment the government has said that it wants to get rid of hidden taxes and that this is what the GST will do. The problem is that, with the way its legislation has been introduced, the GST will remain hidden.

We have moved an amendment in this place that all receipts should show the amount of GST a person pays whenever they make a purchase. We want them to know that every time they go into a shop, supermarket or anywhere else Peter Costello's and John Howard's hands will be in their pockets taking 10 per cent of almost everything purchased. But they do not want to tell you that on the receipt. So proud are they of this tax they want to hide it. We will be campaigning on this issue in every marginal seat in this parliament on that side of the House.

While the government might like to think that this is an issue that has been accepted and has therefore gone away, it has not. I am sure that their polling is showing them that. The very fact that they have actually got their own people up answering dorothy dixers on the GST indicates how much this is hitting them. The very fact that the Prime Minister is so sensitive to his Olympics tickets fiasco is an indication as to how sensitive it is every time they put GST back on the front page. We will be making sure that the GST is on the front page, the second page, the third page and the fourth page, and not only in the daily newspapers but also in the local and provincial papers. We will be making sure that people understand at the next election that the people sitting on the government side of the House are responsible for introducing this insidious new tax.

The consequences of this GST will be felt, and people are entitled to know what they are. All actual pricing of items will have to be on the correct basis, either with GST or GST free. It is not a simple question of saying, `Everything is taxed and therefore you know what it is,' because amendments have been made, compromises and dirty deals have been struck that have introduced complexity into the system. Remember the bags of lettuce, the cooked chooks and the thermometers and the cans of soup? These are all items, I must say, that when we introduced them into the parliament were so embarrassing to the government that they exempted them from the GST. Had we kept the debate going longer and brought more products into the place, we may have had some more exemptions on that principle.

If in fact people going into a supermarket do not know whether a product is GST free or GST taxed, why shouldn't there be a requirement to disclose it on the receipt so that people know precisely what amount of GST they are handing back to the government when they make their weekly or monthly purchases in the supermarket? These will be daily occurrences, of course, in milk bars and mixed businesses, where the same complexity will apply. The simple answer is that they will not know what they are paying, firstly, because there has been new complexity introduced into the system and, secondly, because the government will not tell them. We are going to make sure that we keep campaigning on this issue. We will move this amendment every time they come back with new amendments to this GST package, and there will be more to come.

They say it is a simple system. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance and Administration has just foreshadowed 119 new amendments, and he said that the detail is in the explanatory memorandum. Do you know what the explanatory memorandum runs to: 76 pages. Some simplicity! This is a nightmare of a tax. No wonder they want to hide it. We want to move this amendment to make sure that they cannot hide it, so that people know when they make a purchase that this is a government slugging them 10 per cent for just about everything they purchase. (Time expired)