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Shadow Treasurer discusses GST and charities.



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TRANSCRIPT OF INTERVIEW, RADIO 2UE, MIKE CARLTON, 6 DECEMBER 1999

 

CARLTON: ... The Opposition took the attack to the government on the GST again in Federal Parliament today trying to highlight some of the anomalies, inequities and, it must be said, sheer stupidity of the whole damn thing. On the line we have Simon Crean, the Shadow Treasurer. Good afternoon.

 

CREAN: Good afternoon Mike.

 

CARLTON: I can’t for the life of me understand which charities are going to be hit by this GST and which aren’t. Do you know?

 

CREAN: Well there’s a threshold, fifty thousand turnover...

 

CARLTON: One hundred thousand...

 

CREAN: Sorry, one hundred thousand...

 

CARLTON: Yep.

 

CREAN: But clearly, Saint Vinnies and the larger charities, I mean these are the ones that do the real work, and I just heard Terry McCarthy talking about the smaller ones, I mean many of them surpass that threshold. So they’re all going to get hit. I mean, but the worst thing about this Mike is the Government said charities would not be caught.

 

CARLTON: Yes we were told that at the time...

 

CREAN: ... through the election. But this is one the other great deceits about the GST. They said car prices were coming down, petrol wouldn’t be high, insurance premiums wouldn’t go up. All of what’s starting to emerge now is the Government deceit about how far down this GST goes. And the charities are a classic case in point because he made a commitment that they would be exempt and they’re not. And I think that they have got a legitimate claim that says the government should honour its promise to them.

 

CARLTON: Right. What is this claim that you were making in Parliament this afternoon that charities having to sign up for some form of positive endorsement of the government policy?

 

CREAN: Yes, there was a very interesting issue today. They’ve, a contract been issued by the government on their web site. And that contract effectively requires [tape break] what it says: “The Commonwealth has the right to require private approval by the office of the content of all advertising material and the organisation shall favourably acknowledge the contribution of the Commonwealth to the organisation in any correspondence, public announcement or advertising material.” In other words...

CARLTON: I don’t know what that means. This is charity, right? 

CREAN: This is charity. And if it’s getting the money to help it

 

implement the ......

CARLTON: Right.

 

CREAN: .. .We now know the GST is going to apply to them. The government has said we are making some money available to help organisations adjust to the GST, you know, put the infrastructure in place.

 

CARLTON: Right.

 

CREAN: Now to get that money, you’ve got to sign up to a contract, according to this, that requires the organisation to say nice things about the GST. In other words, it’s cash for favourable comment...

 

CARLTON: Good heavens.

 

CREAN: ... on the GST. And you know the controversy.., obviously been running for cash for comment...

 

CARLTON: Vaguely. Vaguely aware of it. Yes.

 

CREAN: Well, now the Government’s into it. So this is GST cash for favourable GST comment. I mean this is a government that, we know it doesn’t like the criticism and we know it doesn’t like being told that it’s dishonouring promises. But it goes beyond the pale to suggest that, if you’re going to get any assistance, if a charity’s going to get any assistance, it’s got to sign away its criticism rights.

 

CARLTON: Alright. You can’t do much about it in the House of Representatives. Will it get a run in the Senate?

 

CREAN: Well, it’s.. .well that’s an interesting question because the Democrats signed up to this deal of course...

CARLTON: Yeah.

 

CREAN: And the Democrats were saying that they would have an inquiry into the impact on charities. But Senator Woodley is reported in the paper as saying the Tax Office advice, which has caused all this concern, because the Tax Office is saying yes the GST applies’ in effect, Senator Woodley says they’ve bent over backwards to try and accommodate the charities. Well if this is bending over backwards - they’re not too impressed.

 

CARLTON: No, alright. So what would you guys do if you obtained Government at the next election? You would simply exempt all charities, big and small from any GST effect, will you?

 

CREAN: We’ve got to make that formal decision. I mean our position of course is that we just never wanted this tax. But given that we’ve got it, the government should honour its commitment to the charities, which was to exempt them. And we’re saying the government’s got to stand by its word.

CARLTON: Alright, Simon Crean, thanks very much. 

CREAN: Thanks very much, Mike. 

CARLTON: Shadow Treasurer Simon Crean.

ENDS