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Wednesday, 28 June 2000
Page: 18449

Mr LATHAM (2:11 PM) —My question is to the Acting Treasurer. Is the minister aware that the Housing Industry Association estimates that 50,000 home buyers and 100,000 renovators will be caught out having to pay an average $6,000 and $2,000 respectively in unexpected GST because their building work will not be completed before 1 July? Is he also aware that the HIA has estimated that the government is set to reap a $500 million GST windfall from these home buyers and renovators? Minister, why are you cashing in on the misfortune of these 150,000 Australians whose building work will not be completed before 1 July—in many cases through no fault of their own? Minister, in light of your earlier answer, what are you going to do to help these Australians?

Mr FAHEY (Minister for Finance and Administration) —I thank the honourable member for Werriwa for his question. Can I indicate that in my answer to the first question today I could have added that many of those facts were brought to my attention by the Domaine building company in responding to me in respect of those representations I made on behalf of my constituent. As I indicated to the House last week, there was a knowledge of the impact of GST from December 1998. There is a transitional period in everything. But let me simply say this: the benefit of GST goes to the states. I would have thought that the honourable member for Werriwa would have an open door to the Premier of New South Wales in view of his former occupation. I wonder if he has gone to the Premier of New South Wales, who will be the beneficiary of the GST in respect of home building and everywhere else, or perhaps to the Labor Premier of Victoria, and asked those premiers if they have the concern and are they prepared to forgo the benefits that will flow to them, because they will receive the GST? It goes to the states.

Mr Latham —Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. My question went to the minister to get some justice for home buyers and renovators. On the point of relevance—

Mr SPEAKER —The member for Werriwa will resume his seat.

Mr FAHEY —I am sure the honourable member for Werriwa would have noted that in contracts that most builders have issued to owners for some significant time—in fact since December 1998—there was a provision to say that any impact of any taxes or otherwise would be applicable, and there is an impact the other way in respect of certain things that go into homes, particularly in the final stages. The one certainty is that when it comes to midnight on Friday the iniquitous, inequitable wholesale sales tax ceases—it goes—and there will be some flow-on in respect of that to homebuilders as well. Again, I urge the honourable member for Werriwa, with his concern for his constituents, to use his influence on the beneficiary of goods and services tax and make appropriate representations to the Premier of New South Wales.