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Thursday, 24 June 2010
Page: 4276

Senator FIFIELD (11:09 AM) —I rise to speak on the Tax Laws Amendment (2010 GST Administration Measures No. 3) Bill 2010. I note at the outset that this week marks 10 years since the introduction of the goods and services tax. The Hansard from the other place will show that the member for Griffith referred to that day as ‘fundamental injustice day’, but I suspect that there may be another day that now figures in his mind under that particular description. In noting that, I obviously acknowledge that there is a very human dimension to the events of this morning on the other side of this building. I think we are all keenly aware of that.

This bill seeks to simplify and streamline the administration of the GST. Schedule 1 amends the A New Tax System (Goods and Services Tax) Act 1999 to make the supply of goods transport services in Australia GST-free if that supply is made as part of the international transport of goods to a nonresident who is not in Australia. Schedule 1 also changes the liability for paying GST on the transport of goods within Australia where that transport is part of the international transport of imported goods from the transport service provider to the importer of the goods. The amendment will mean that importers will add the cost of domestic transport into the value of taxable importation used to calculate GST liability on importation and will remove the GST liability on the supply of domestic transport services made to a nonresident. I can tell by your nodding, Madam Acting Deputy President Cash, that I did not need to say that; you knew that already.

Schedule 2 of this bill amends the A New Tax System (Goods and Services Tax) Act 1999 to ensure that global roaming telecommunication services remain GST-free. The measures contained in schedule 2 were initially announced by the former government, and the former government announced in December 2006 the intention to clarify the law to maintain the intention that suppliers of global roaming telecommunications services would remain GST-free.

There was a requirement for clarification in this area of GST law, because a tax ruling by the Australian tax office cast doubt on the treatment of such suppliers. These suppliers were always intended to be GST-free, in accordance with Australia’s obligations under the international telecommunications regulations. The former coalition government began consultation with the telecommunications industry to ensure the amendments were properly targeted. The current government confirmed their intention to continue with the amendments in the 2008-09 budget.

Schedule 3 contains further amendments relating to third-party payments. It amends the A New Tax System (Goods and Services Tax) Act 1999 to allow entities to make appropriate adjustments where the entities are members of the same GST group, GST religious group or GST joint venture. Whenever there is a GST bill in this chamber, I am fondly reminded of a previous time where issues of what was subject to GST and what was GST-free occupied a fair amount of time. The coalition supports these changes.