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A NEW TAX SYSTEM (GOODS AND SERVICES TAX) BILL 1998 AND 26 RELATED BILLS

Order of the day read for the adjourned debate on the motions of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts (Senator Ian Campbell), the Minister for Regional Services, Territories and Local Government (Senator Ian Macdonald) and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs (Senator Patterson)—That these bills be now read a second time—and on the amendments moved by Senators Cook and Margetts (see entry no. 3).

Debate resumed.

Senator Brown moved the following amendments:

In respect of A New Tax System (Goods and Services Tax Transition) Bill 1998:

 At the end of the motion, add "but the Senate:

  (a) notes that the Government[quot ]s proposed $3.5 billion reduction in taxes on diesel will result in:

   (i) increased greenhouse gas emissions,

   (ii) increased air pollution, especially in urban areas,

   (iii) reduced markets for solar and wind energy,

   (iv) the demise of the oil recycling industry, and

   (v) contraction of gas-fuelled transport; and

  (b) considers that taxes on diesel for road transport should not be cut".


In respect of A New Tax System (Australian Business Number) Bill 1998:

 At the end of the motion, add "but the Senate considers it wrong to impose new taxes on not-for-profit community groups working in the public interest".

Debate ensued.

Senator Mackay moved the following amendment in respect of A New Tax System (Commonwealth-State Financial Arrangements—Consequential Provisions) Bill 1999:

 At the end of the motion, add "but the Senate condemns the Government for seeking to end the 25-year Commonwealth-local government funding partnership because:

  (a) it is a regressive step that fails to recognise local government as an important sphere of government in Australia, a partner of the Commonwealth, and as a fundamental contributor to the wellbeing of the community;

  (b) it places the future of many councils and the vital services and facilities they provide to their communities, particularly those in rural and regional Australia, at risk;

  (c) it signals the abandoning of a national approach to standards for local government; and

  (d) it has been universally and strongly rejected by local government in Australia".

Debate ensued.

Senator Carr moved the following amendments:

In respect of A New Tax System (Personal Income Tax Cuts) Bill 1998:

 At the end of the motion, add "but the Senate condemns the Government for:

  (a) unfair tax cuts, with more than 50 per cent of the benefits going to the top 20 per cent of income earners;

  (b) tax cuts for higher income earners which far outweigh the increases in social security payments for lower income earners; and

  (c) creating a situation where a couple earning $100 000 with no children gets 5 times the benefit of a single low-income family with three children".

In respect of A New Tax System (Compensation Measures Legislation Amendment) Bill 1998:

 At the end of the motion, add "but the Senate condemns the Government for:

  (a) a so-called compensation model for aged pensioners which will erode to nothing within a few years;

  (b) imposing a GST on veterans and proposing a so-called compensation package which will also erode to nothing in a few years; and

  (c) this massive sleight of hand at the expense of our aged and veteran pensioners".

In respect of A New Tax System (Bonuses for Older Australians) Bill 1998:

 At the end of the motion, add "but the Senate condemns:

  (a) the GST, which is effectively a retrospective tax on retirees, who have paid tax on their incomes and now face a new tax on their savings; and

  (b) the proposed savings bonus, which the Australian Investors[quot ] Association has described as [quot ]so trifling as to be laughable[quot ]".


In respect of A New Tax System (Trade Practices Amendment) Bill 1999:

 At the end of the motion, add "but the Senate condemns the Government for:

  (a) misleading the Australian people about the real price effects of the GST;

  (b) inadequately resourcing the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, thereby not protecting consumers from GST-related profiteering; and

  (c) threatening the viability of small business with unprecedented powers over small business pricing polices".

In respect of A New Tax System (Aged Care Compensation Measures Legislation Amendment) Bill 1998:

 At the end of the motion, add "but the Senate condemns the Government for:

  (a) proposing to lower the living standards of Australia[quot ]s pensioners; and

  (b) attempting to mislead pensioners into believing that they will be compensated, when, in fact, as Mr Geoff Carmody of Access Economics has stated, [quot ]it is only a matter of time before the real value of the compensation offered in the ANTS package will be eroded to zero[quot ]".

In respect of A New Tax System (End of Sales Tax) Bill 1998:

 At the end of the motion, add "but the Senate condemns the Government for:

  (a) imposing a huge new paperwork burden on Australian small business through the GST, which does not exist under the wholesale sales tax;

  (b) increasing the number of businesses paying indirect tax to the Government from 70 000 to 1.6 million; and

  (c) imposing tax on the necessities of life for the first time".

In respect of A New Tax System (Goods and Services Tax Imposition—Excise) Bill 1998:

 At the end of the motion, add "but the Senate condemns the Government for imposing a new tax on the necessities of life, namely, food, clothing, shelter, household bills and transport".

In respect of A New Tax System (Goods and Services Tax Imposition—Customs) Bill 1998:

 At the end of the motion, add "but the Senate condemns the Government for imposing a new tax on jobs, which will:

  (a) lead to thousands of job losses in both Tasmania and Queensland; and

  (b) cause tens of thousands of job losses in regional Australia".

In respect of A New Tax System (Goods and Services Tax Imposition—General) Bill 1998:

 At the end of the motion, add "but the Senate condemns the Government for:

  (a) imposing a $2.5 billion increase in the insurance premiums of Australian consumers through a [quot ]design oversight[quot ];

  (b) failing to rectify this blatant revenue grab; and

  (c) pretending that this massive hike in insurance costs is in the national interest".


In respect of A New Tax System (Goods and Services Tax Administration) Bill 1998:

 At the end of the motion, add "but the Senate condemns the Government:

  (a) for the most complex, administratively expensive and job destroying tax this country has ever seen; and

  (b) for a GST that forces charities and other non-profit bodies to reallocate scarce resources to filling in forms for the Prime Minister (Mr Howard) and the Treasurer (Mr Costello), when these resources could be used to alleviate the misery and suffering of the poorest and most vulnerable members of the community".

Debate ensued.

Debate adjourned till the next day of sitting, Senator Murray in continuation.