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Wednesday, 25 March 1987
Page: 1296

Senator BOSWELL —I refer the Minister for Industry, Technology and Commerce to his public statement that large retail monopolies are not in the national interest. In light of this expressed concern, will the Minister investigate the current sales tax system in which tax is calculated on the last wholesale transaction? Does he agree that this unfairly disadvantages small retailers who have to pay sales tax on their base purchase price plus the cost of warehousing, whereas large retailers who do their own warehousing pay only on their base costs into the warehouse? As most small retailers purchase through non-profit organisations, such as Newspower, Mitre 10 (Queensland) Ltd, and Queensland Independent Wholesalers Ltd, will he consider giving practical assistance to small business by shifting the sales taxing point to the point of sale by a manufacturer, which would ensure that all retailers would be treated fairly and be able to compete on the same basis?

Senator BUTTON —I have a dreadful feeling that Senator Boswell asked that question last week. If his point is that he did not get an answer, he can ask it again.

Senator Boswell —Someone may have asked a similar question, but it certainly was not me.

Senator BUTTON —I do not know what statement of mine regarding retail mergers he is referring to. At the time of the Coles-Myer merger I uttered that I felt some disquiet about it. Having said that, the rest of the question is appropriately addressed to the Treasurer and I will see that it is sent to him.