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Stop GST double whammy on low income and disadvantaged people

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A acoss

Media Release ACOSS Media:

Ian Wilson Mob 0419 626 155

Australian Council of Social Service

Level 2

619 Elizabeth St Redfern

Locked Bag 4777 Strawberry Hills NSW 2012

Ph [02] 9310 4844 Fax [02] 9310 4822

ACOSS Media Release Embargoed Until: 6.00am Wednesday 18/11/98

Stop GST double whammy on low income and disadvantaged people

"The Government's tax package may contain a 'double whammy' for low income and disadvantaged Australians. People know about the need to exclude food from the GST to protect low income people. But they don't know that the tax package may also have a negative effect on the thousands of community organisations providing essential community services," said Libby Davies, Australian Council of Social Service Board Member and National Director of Uniting Community Services Australia.

"Community service organisations must have input into the framing of the Government's tax legislation to ensure there is no reduction in essential community services to low income and disadvantaged people," said Libby Davies.

"It is not enough for the Government to exclude 'op-shop' donations and sales from - the GST, there is a broad range of essential community services such as aged care and child care which will be adversely affected if they are not made GST-free," said

Libby Davies.

A joint statement by over forty major charities and non-profit community groups will be released today, Wednesday 1 8 Ί 1/98 at 10.00am. They are calling for a Government guarantee that community services essential for low income and

disadvantaged people will not be reduced as a result of the tax package.

A wide range of Australia's major non-profit providers of community services has signed the joint statement, including: the Salvation Army Eastern and Southern Commands; St Vincent De Paul; Brotherhood of St Laurence; Anglicare Australia; Baptist Care Australia; Lifeline Australia; AC ROD; and Australian Catholic Health Care.

"Australia's non-profit community organisations are major providers of community services and have a right to greater involvement in the Government's tax reform process. We need a separate and specific process of formal consultation to resolve

the many outstanding tax reform issues which threaten to add an extra burden to charitable organisations and non-profit community service agencies," said Janet Hunt, Executive Director of the Australian Council for Overseas Aid.

Paul Nagle of the lllawarra Forum network of small community welfare agencies in the Wollongong/Shoalhaven region, said:

"Besides the additional administrative costs for our organisations, we are very worried that we will have to charge the GST to unemployed people, homeless people and people with disabilities seeking help from non-profit community service agencies in our local area. The forms of assistance they need may not fit the definitions of

'health', 'education', or 'non-commercial charitable activities' which will be GST-free."

"A process of open consultation over a reasonable timeframe is also needed to ensure that people with disabilities do not face a decrease in the goods and services necessary for their participation in the community," concluded Libby Davies.

Spokesperson Contacts: Libby Davies ph (02) 6290 2160 mob 0418 634 206; Janet Hunt ph (02) 6285 1816; Paul Nagle ph (02) 4443 9244.

A copy of the joint statement, Call to the Government on Tax Reform and the Delivery of Community Services and further information is available on request or from the ACOSS website:

Call to th e G overnm ent

Tax Reform and the Delivery of Community Services 18 N ovem ber 19 98

The undersigned national organisations of the community sector call on the Government to undertake a process of open and comprehensive consultation on the impact of the proposed tax reform package on the capacity of the sector to provide services to low income and disadvantaged people.

Among other services, the community sector provides over $6 billion of essential services and support in areas such as aged care, child care, disability and employment services, housing, health and community care, family welfare and support, and emergency financial relief to millions of Australians, particularly low income and disadvantaged Australians.

Following the national meeting of the community sector held November 11, 1998, it is evident that under the Government's proposed taxation changes, there will be a substantial reduction in the level of resources that the community sector is able to devote to services and support. This is due to the imposition of a GST on the so-called 'commercial activities of charities' and to other services provided by our sector which may not be given GST-free status, as well as from changes to the Fringe Benefits Tax exemption. This would adversely affect the

provision of and access to essential community services for low income and disadvantaged people.

Further, we believe that particular consideration needs to be given to ensuring that people with disabilities and people with chronic illness do not face an increase in the costs of, or a decrease in their access to, goods and services that are essential to their participation in the community.

We regret that the Government's Tax Consultative Committee, which reported to the Government Friday 13 November, did not include a representative from this sector. Furthermore, its narrow terms of reference and short reporting timeframe have not allowed for the complex issues involving the community sector to be adequately considered.

We therefore call on the Government to:

1. Commit itself to the principle that the delivery of services to low income and disadvantaged people will not be reduced by the introduction of its tax package.

2. Undertake meaningful consultations within a reasonable timeframe

with the community sector to ensure the above principle is achieved.

.../signatories overleaf

Call to th e G o v e rn m e n t

Tax Reform and the Delivery of Community Services

. Signatories

Organisation Contact Telephone

ACROD Janet Kahler (02) 6282 4333

ACT Council of Cultural & Community Org.s Graeme Evans (02) 6251 6849

Aged Care Australia Maureen Lyster (02) 9686 3460

Anglicare Australia Russell Rollason (03) 9328 3544

Australian Association of Social Workers Ian Rentsch (02) 6273 0199

Asthma Australia Anne Wilson (03) 9696 7861

Australian Catholic Social Welfare Commission Toby O'Connor (02) 6285 1366 Australian Catholic Health Care Association Francis Sullivan (02) 6239 7633 Australian Council for Overseas Aid Janet Hunt (02) 6285 1816

Australian Council of Housing Societies Paul Rowe (02) 9299 8132

Australian Council of State School Organisations Ian Morgan (02) 6282 5150 Australian Women's Health Network Wendy Benson (02) 6295 9215

Baptist Care Australia Ltd June M Heinrich (02) 9941 6000

Brotherhood-of St Laurence Michael Challen (03)9483 1372

Carers Association of Australia David Fisher (02) 6288 4877

Community Housing Federation of Australia Kerry Browning (02) 6232 5043 Council on the Ageing Denys Correll (02)6286 1525

Council to Homeless Persons Australia Jan Williamson (02) 6257 5923

Cystic Fibrosis Australia Inc Helen Griffiths (02) 9878 5250

Family Planning Australia David Wheen (02) 6230 5150

Family Services Australia Dianne Gibson (02) 6281 1788

Head Injury Council of Australia Rod Irwin (02) 6290 2253

International Social Service - Australia Margaret Gibson (03) 9614 8755

Key Insights Ellen David-Meehan (02) 4925 2624

Lifeline Australia Gary Vendersluis (02) 9635 0700

National Association of Community Legal Centres Merran Lawler (02) 9264 9595 National Rural Health Alliance Gordon Gregory (02) 6285 4660

National Shelter Anne Eayrs (02) 6247 7603

National Union of Students Rose Tracey (03) 9326 7000

National Youth Coalition for Housing Sally Watson (02) 6257 1555

Network of Alcohol and Other Drugs Agencies Peter Ryan (02) 9687 1699

NSW Council of Social Service Peter Connie (02) 9687 1699

NSW Local Government Community Services Assn Jann New (02) 9710 0253 Relationships Australia Helen Disney (02) 6285 4466

SNAICC Muriel Cadd (03) 9417 6744

St Vincent de Paul Frank Shugg (02) 6296 1075

The Australian Psychological Society Ltd Alison Carton (03) 9663 6166

The Illawarra Forum Paul Nagle (02) 4443 9244

The Salvation Army Eastern Australia Hillmon Buckingham (02) 9266 9582

The Salvation Army Southern Australia Douglas Davis (03) 9896 6042

The Twenty-Ten Association Kate Foy (02) 9552 6130

Uniting Community Services Australia Libby Davies (02) 6290 2160

Victorian Council of Social Service Dimity Fifer (03) 9654 5649

Volunteering Australia Mary Porter (02) 6281 6669

YMCA Australia Richard Tanzer (02) 6247 7606