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Thursday, 30 September 1999
Page: 9316


Senator Faulkner asked the Minister representing the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, upon notice, on 2 September 1999:

With reference to the effect of the goods and services tax (GST) on the internal operations of the Minister's portfolio (that is, not relating to the services provided to the public), and in relation to each of the agencies within the portfolio:

(1) What preparations have been undertaken to date in regard to the introduction of the GST on 1 July 2000.

(2) (a) What has been the total cost of these actions already undertaken; and (b) how much of these costs relate to: (i) consultancies, (ii) staff training, (iii) computer software, (iv) extra staff, (v) stationery, and (vi) other (please specify).

(3) Was the cost of undertaking this work included in the portfolio's 1999-2000 budget appropriation; if so, how was this funding identified; if not, what other area of funding has been used for this purpose.

(4) What future preparations are planned or expected to be required in regard to the introduction of the GST on 1 July 2000.

(5) (a) What is the total cost of the actions planned, or the estimated cost of expected actions; and (b) how much of these costs relate to: (i) consultancies, (ii) staff training, (iii) computer software, (iv) extra staff, (v) stationery, and (vi) other (please specify).

(6) Was the estimated cost of undertaking this future work included in the portfolio's 1999-2000 budget appropriation; if so, how was this funding identified; if not, what other area of funding has been used for this purpose.

(7) Is there expected to be any change in the ongoing running costs of the department/agency after the commencement of the GST; if so, what is the extent of the difference in costs.

(8) Are there any other GST associated costs which the portfolio agencies will incur prior to the commencement of the GST; if so, what are those costs.


Senator Alston (Communications, Information Technology and the Arts) —The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

I am advised that considerable resources would be required at this stage to research the answers to the question with regard to each of the portfolio bodies across the portfolio and I am unwilling to devote resources to provide answers in that detail. However, the departmental response is given below:

(1) The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry has formed a Steering Committee to provide assurance to the Secretary that the Department is fully equipped to deal with the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax and other taxation measures and changes introduced as part of A New Taxation System (ANTS).

An external tax expert will also be appointed to the Committee. An implementation project team has been formed, under the direction of the Committee, to set-up appropriate procedures and systems to comply with GST legislation and requirements.

The Committee will also develop reporting mechanisms to provide assurance that portfolio bodies have responded to the requirements of the GST.

(2) (a) The total cost of the actions already undertaken by the Department amounts to $14,000.

(b) These costs relate to staff training of $2,000 and the cost of project staff (although no extra staff were recruited) of $12,000.

(3) The cost of undertaking this work is being funded from within the portfolio's 1999-2000 budget appropriation.

(4) A project plan has been approved to ensure that all procedures and systems are in place by 1 July 2000 to comply with GST legislation and requirements.

(5) (a) The estimated total cost of the actions planned by the Department is $286,000.

(b) These costs relate to:

(i) Consultancies—$13,000

(ii) Staff training—$33,000

(iii) Computer Software—$55,000

(iv) No Extra Staff will be recruited, however project staff will cost—$180,000

(v) Stationery—$5,000

(6) See answer to question 3.

(7) Apart from any savings arising from the abolition of wholesale sales tax, there is not expected to be any major change to running costs.

(8) It is not envisaged that there will be any other GST associated costs which the Department will incur prior to the commencement of the GST.