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Monday, 23 November 2015
Page: 13358

Mr CHAMPION (Wakefield) (10:35): It is interesting hearing the government talk on and off about the GST. We saw reports in the last sitting of parliament out of the Liberal Party party room about some nervousness about the GST and I just thought I would go through a bit of history about it. I was thinking about when the current Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, was opposition leader on 13 October 2008 and he said, 'But I can give you this commitment—there is no plan, no intention and no possibility of us recommending an increase to the GST.'

I thought to myself, 'How far back do you have to go through all the election commitments to find evidence of a GST?' I thought, 'I'll go and have a look at Our plan: real solutions for all Australians.' I could not find one mention of the GST in there. This is a familiar document to those opposite and of course to the parliament—'the direction, values and policy priorities of the next coalition government'. It has a wonderful photo on the front of it of all the notables. The former Prime Minister, the member for Warringah, Tony Abbott—he is there. He promised no GST. Joe Hockey, who has now left us to go into the diplomatic corps, apparently, is sitting there. He looks a bit heavier here than in recent incarnations, so he must have gone on a bit of a diet. We also have the current Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, sitting there. I love the juxtaposition of it—he is sitting just apart from everybody else on Tony Abbott's team. Doesn't that tell you something? A picture says a thousand words.

Then I thought to myself, 'How far do you have to go back before you get to a GST?' Of course, John Howard had a 10 per cent GST. But then I went back to my old loaned copy of Fightback! I love Fightback! It is the reason I joined the Labor Party. Interestingly enough, I can remember going around as a 22-year-old sticking stickers that said 'Say no to a 15 per cent GST'. Yet here we are again with those opposite talking about broadening the base, lifting the rate and having a 15 per cent tax on everything. That is what those opposite plan for. It was all here in the original bible document. We are told by the Liberal Party strategists that they are not going to go with a Fightback! reform document, that it will be more like John Howard's.

The point is that it is a regressive tax. It hits the poorest hardest and it hits those on middle incomes—working class and middle-class Australians. It hits them while the top end of town skates free on tax, and that is what those opposite are all about. We will find out eventually, once they release their plans to the Australian people, once they are good enough to reveal their hand to the Australian people.