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Thursday, 25 November 1999
Page: 12645

Mr SLIPPER (12:33 PM) —The government rejects these amendments moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition to the A New Tax System (Indirect Tax and Consequential Amendments) Bill (No. 2) 1999 . Claims by Labor that high rollers are exempt from the GST are simply incorrect. The goods and services tax will be applied to the value added in gambling—that is, the margin between bets taken and prices and expenses paid out—just as it applies to the value added for other goods and services. So there is a consistency with respect to the government's approach to this.

The goods and services tax will also apply to accommodation, meals, drinks and other matters that the so-called high roller pays for. Labor's policy is not to tax any service provided to high rollers. There is simply no connection between the liability for goods and services tax on premium Olympics tickets and the tax treatment of gambling. There is no GST exemption or special concessions to casinos or gambling high rollers. The so-called high-roller amendment to the GST bill merely ensured that if discounts were provided to gamblers then the GST applied to the discounted price, just as the GST applies to the discounted price where discounts apply to the price of other goods and services.

The government's amendment provided no monetary benefit to casinos or high rollers and made no distinction among various kinds of gamblers. Casinos will be required to charge goods and services tax on goods and services sold to all gamblers. The honourable member for Hotham continues to chant that the GST is unfair. It is a very important reform for which the Australian people voted. We abolished the wholesale sales tax and many other taxes, with dramatic reductions in personal income tax and compensation for those on benefits and for retirees. It is fair and it is an appropriate tax as we approach the next millennium, and the government is very pleased to reject the amendments proposed by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition.