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Wednesday, 9 December 1998
Page: 1716


Mr CREAN —My question is again directed to the Treasurer. I seek clarification of an element of his goods and services 10 per cent on almost everything bill. Treasurer, you claim that your GST is simple and that people will know how much GST they are paying. Can you confirm that your bill calculates the amount of the GST on an item as 10 per cent of ten-elevenths of the GST inclusive price? Treasurer, if it is so simple, could you tell the House the GST component of a GST inclusive grocery bill of $138.80?


Mr COSTELLO (Treasurer) —One-eleventh.


Mr Crean —How much?


Mr COSTELLO —One-eleventh.


Mr Crean —How much?


Mr SPEAKER —The member for Hotham does not have the call.


Mr COSTELLO —Mr Speaker, I answered the question: one-eleventh. What is his big point—it is a complicated calculation to divide 138 by 11? Is that your big point?


Mr Crean —Answer the question.


Government members — Simple Simon!


Mr SPEAKER —The member for Hotham does not have the call.


Mr Crean —On a point of clarification then, Mr Speaker—


Mr SPEAKER —There is no clarification.


Mr Crean —if it is so simple, how much is it on $143.40?


Mr SPEAKER —The member for Hotham will resume his seat. He cannot abuse the standing orders in that manner. He did not seek a point of order. The Treasurer has the call.


Mr COSTELLO —It is so simple. It is still one-eleventh. It is one-eleventh of any number you choose to bring out. Let me make the point about simplicity. It is simple compared with Labor's wholesale sales tax. Let me quote:

. . . Australia already has a wholesale sales tax on many manufactured goods . . . the problem is that it does not . . . work properly. It taxes goods, such as cars, white goods and kitchenware, but not services, such as repairs, entertainment and restaurants. It has many anomalies. It has high rates such as 20 and 32½ per cent—


Mr Crean —Mr Speaker, I take a point of order on relevance. This aspect of the answer cannot be relevant to the question which asked him to simply tell the House the price on a grocery bill in his so simple tax.


Mr SPEAKER —The member for Hotham will resume his seat. The member for Hotham must know that the Treasurer's answer is relevant to the question.


Mr COSTELLO —It is simple, because it is one-eleventh, and there is one rate. It simplifies the current system which has so many anomalies, as I said. I quote:

It has many anomalies. It has high rates—


Mr Crean —On a point of order on relevance: if the simple answer is one-eleventh, he should sit down. If he can't describe the amount he should sit down and let the people know.


Mr SPEAKER —The member for Hotham will resume his seat. The Treasurer has the call and the member for Hotham has been here long enough to know that the asker of the question cannot dictate the way in which the question is answered, and the obligation on the chair is to ensure that the person answering the question is relevant to the question. The Treasurer is relevant and has the call.


Mr COSTELLO —I will conclude very briefly. I quote:

. . . the problem—

with the wholesale sales tax—

is that it does not work . . . properly. It taxes goods, such as cars, white goods and kitchenware, but not services, such as repairs, entertainment and restaurants. It has many anomalies. It has high rates such as 20 and 32½ per cent because it is imposed on a relatively narrow range of goods.

And it has a high price effect—

Who said that? It was the Australian Labor Party in their paper of July 1985 on why the wholesale sales tax should be abolished—and I table it.