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Opposition Leader's Courtyard, Parliament House, Canberra, 2 December 1998: transcript of doorstop interview [GST].



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MEDIA RELEASE

 

Wayne Swan MP

(Member for Lilley)

Shadow Minister for Family and Community Services

 

TRANSCRIPT OF DOORSTOP, OPPOSITION LEADER’S COURTYARD, PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA, 2 DECEMBER 1998

 

E & OE - PROOF ONLY

 

SWAN:

 

Today Mrs Bishop let the cat out of the bag that a GST will apply to dining room meals and maintenance for people living in retirement villages: people who are living in independent units within retirement villages. This will set Australian against Australian. People who have fought for this country could well be sharing breakfast: one would be paying a GST, one would not. What this amounts to is double taxation of those people. It is miserable, mean and very unfair.

 

JOURNALIST:

 

How would some be paying it and others not?

 

SWAN:

 

Because that’s the Government’s decision. If you have a look at the Vos Report we find, hidden at the back of the report, this admission that the Government is going to apply the GST to the meals and services consumed by people living in independent retirement units. You see, you will have in retirement complexes people living in a nursing home, people living in a hostel, they will be exempt But people living in the independent unit within the complex, who are eating in the same dining room, will be paying a GST. This will set Australian against Australian.

 

JOURNALIST:

 

If they were Living in their own home unit, not in a complex, they’d be paying the GST. What’s the difference?

 

SWAN:

 

They certainly would. But these are people who are living in retirement complexes. And the Government has said that they are sympathetic to the needs of retirees. This is double taxation of retirees across the board. But, specifically, very unfair for those Australians living in retirement communities who are paying maintenance fees, who are buying dining room meals, and they would be sifting beside other Australians who are not subject to the GST. It is miserable and mean. Very strong representations were made to the Government on this issue. And Mrs Bishop and her colleagues denied those representations.

 

JOURNALIST:

 

Have you discovered any other nasties in their package?

 

SWAN:

 

Look, I think this is a creeping GST. There’s no doubt that as the days unfold many more of these half measures will be revealed. The thing about today was the extent to which it had to be wrung our of Mrs Bishop. First of all, she chose not to answer the question. It was only under pressure from the Opposition that she revealed that these people were to be subject to the GST.

 

JOURNALIST:

 

Do you think more pressure might bring out some more nasties?

 

SWAN:

 

There is no doubt that when it comes to the elderly they are being whacked by this GST. It is double taxation. These are people who have fought for this country, they have saved all their life, they have paid their taxes. And now, when they reach 65 they are being told they’ve got to pay their tax again. A GST for seniors and pensioners is double taxation: nothing more, nothing less. And in this case, people who fought in the war together could be having dinner together, one would be paying a GST and one would not. That is going to set Australian against Australian.

 

JOURNALIST:

 

Why is there such an anomaly?

 

SWAN:

 

Because the Government has been mean and miserable when it comes to seniors and retirees.

 

JOURNALIST:

 

Will the decision that means that simple pharmaceuticals, like bandaids and headache tablets will be subject to a GST, will that harm .older people disproportionately?

 

SWAN:

 

It most certainly will. That’s what I mean when I say this is double taxation of the elderly. Because they consume a large amount of their income in health services. So, when they buy their Panadol, or when they buy a meal in the dining room, they're paying a second lot of tax to Mr Howard. They have already paid their taxes to build this country, to build the roads, to build the facilities. And now, in their latter years, they’re paying that tax again.

 

JOURNALIST:

 

And the compensation package isn’t sufficient for pensioners and retirees?

 

SWAN:

 

Well, it is well known that the compensation package is totally insufficient. In the case of a pensioner it amounts to a little more than $1 per week. Now, that will be taken up in the extra they pay for their Panadol, and if they’re living in independent units, in the extras that they pay for their meals, maintenance, and laundry.

 

JOURNALIST:

 

Do you know how many elderly Australians live in independent units? How many this will affect?

 

SWAN:

 

No, I don’t know at this stage but it would be tens of thousands of Australians. And I say to them, contact your local Liberal MP. Tell them how unfair this measure is. Tell them that you are not prepared to have Mr Howard and Mrs Bishop set Australian against Australian.

 

JOURNALIST:

 

Catholic Health has welcomed this, and other aged care groups have welcomed this and have been heartened by today’s legislation. Why are you so against it?

 

SWAN:

 

Well, there’ll be many aspects of this legislation of which people are yet unaware. I’m sure that when people look deeply into this package they will see many aspects with which they are unhappy. They will see some aspects where their representations have been successful. But, at the end of the day, for elderly Australians a GST is a 10 per cent tax on just about everything they buy and consume and that will make them worse off because for them, as I said before, it’s double taxation. They have worked hard all their lives to make this country what it is today. They have paid their taxes and now they’re being asked to do it again: to pay Mr Howard’s new 10 per cent tax on virtually everything they consume.

 

ends

 

 

 

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