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Church & welfare unite to oppose GST on food. Democrat's position on tax reform wins strong support.

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Senator Meg Lees

Australian Democrats

Parliamentary Leader




Church &Welfare unite to oppose GST on food

Democrats’ position on tax reform wins strong support


30 March, 1999



The Government can no longer defend its position regarding a GST on food following the united voices of church and welfare groups calling for food to be kept out of the GST net, according to the Australian Democrats.


Democrats Leader, Senator Meg Lees, welcomed the statement by Catholic, Anglican, Uniting and Salvation Army leaders this morning. The influential church leaders were joined by the Australian Council of Social Services and the Australian Consumers Association.


‘This is a very serious blow to the Government’s plan to tax food,” said Senator Lees.


“This important joint statement this morning reiterates everything the Democrats have been saying for months.


“The Government is now left arguing that the benefits to business of its version of a GST outweigh the hardship and damage inflicted on ordinary Australians — the poor, the disadvantaged and those on low and middle incomes.


“A government that pushes such a proposition, in the face of firm and sustained opposition from churches and welfare groups, can only be regarded as morally bankrupt.


“I’m delighted to see that the statement echoes the Democrats’ position that raising $5 billion by taxing food and using it to fund tax cuts for the well-off is quite simply immoral.


The Senate Tax Committee has been told by both Catholic and Anglican Bishops that church and welfare agencies do not believe that any compensation packages will either be adequate or maintained. This position was reinforced today in the joint statement.


‘The Government simply cannot ignore the strong message from the welfare, church and consumer lobby today. And the strong message is that the tax package, as it stands, is unfair and therefore unacceptable.


“Tax reform can be made fairer and can deliver both economic and social benefits. The first step is taking food out of the GST and now the Government has no choice but to agree,” said Senator Lees.


For comment/interview: John Schumann 0419 867876 or 02 6277 3991