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Thursday, 21 June 2007
Page: 138

Senator COLBECK (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance and Administration) (5:02 PM) —I thank senators for their contributions to the debate on Tax Laws Amendment (Simplified GST Accounting) Bill 2007. In defence of the government and Senator Murray, I think we ought to remind Senator Sherry of the concept of continuous improvement. That is something that the government believes in, and we will continue to take that concept as one of our tenets. As we see improvements that can be made, we will continue to do that.

As announced in the 2007-08 budget, this bill expands the existing GST simplified accounting arrangements, reducing red tape and compliance costs for Australian small businesses. The Labor Party has claimed that the government is adopting Labor’s policy in this area, and I note that the changes in this bill simply expand on the government’s idea which has been in place since the inception of GST. Since GST began in July 2000, the GST law has enabled the Commissioner of Taxation to offer simplified accounting methods for use by eligible businesses. Over time, the government has expanded the availability of these simplified accounting methods to include a wider range of small businesses. From 1 July 2007 the simplified accounting methods will be available for businesses or entities such as charities that have an annual turnover of less than $2 million and either make a mix of taxable and GST-free supplies or have acquisitions of taxable supplies and GST-free supplies.

The government recognises that small businesses make a substantial contribution to our economy and to Australia and that they are a vital source of jobs, exports and innovation. The measure in this bill is part of the government’s commitment to helping the small business sector. The government has significantly reduced business compliance costs, including the costs of complying with their GST obligations. In particular, some of the types of businesses that are expected to benefit from this initiative include small businesses that export goods or services, optometrists, retirement village operators, childcare operators, chemists, educational institutions, travel agents and health retailers. This bill implements positive improvements to Australia’s taxation system and I commend the bill to the Senate.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.