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Tuesday, 1 December 2015
Page: 9407

Senator POLLEY (Tasmania) (15:02): I move:

That the Senate take note of the answers given by the Minister for Tourism and International Education (Senator Colbeck) and the Minister for Rural Health (Senator Nash) to questions without notice asked by Senators Urquhart and Polley today relating to the Goods and Services Tax.

Today we saw again in this Senate a pathetic attempt to try to dismiss what we know the government has planned, and that is the increase of the GST to 15 per cent. When it came out into the public domain report that the GST will be added to everything—including fresh food, vegetables and fruit—the representative of the Minister for Health in this place said that she does not want to intervene in this debate. The Minister for Health has the responsibility to provide decent policy and to ensure that we have the best possible health system in this country.

The health system is only what we created when we were in government, because the Abbott-Turnbull government has actually cut $60 billion out of health. Senator Nash, you represent the Nationals in this place and you are the representative of the Minister for Health. If you are not concerned about $60 billion being cut out of the health budget, then who on your side would be? Obviously the Nationals are the doormat for this government, but we on this side will always stand up for struggling families. We will always oppose any increase to the GST to 15 per cent, because it will impact on every Australian family and every individual in this country. It does not matter whether you are going to the grocery store or whether you are going to the greengrocer; you are going to be hit. Every time you buy new school uniforms, your family will have to pay 15 per cent on all those items. Every single day when parents and carers around this country pack a child's lunch to go to school, they will have 15 per cent imposed on the cost of the apple that is put into that lunch. These are the real, everyday effects that this government's GST increase will bring to Australian families.

We have Senator Nash crying 'foul', accusing us on this side of scaremongering. This Turnbull-Abbott government are world-renowned for their scare campaigns. The former Prime Minister, the one who was rolled by those opposite, was a master of the three-word slogan, but those opposite are now finding that they may have changed their leader, he may wear better suits, he may be able to put more than three words together, but he is still defending the cuts that were made in last year's budget and this year's budget. They still have the same policies, except now they say, 'We want to have a mature debate about the taxation system in this country'. All we have done today in question time has been to ask questions about what the impact will be of a 15 per cent impost on medical services, medical appliances and everything that Australian families need around health. We already know that they have tried to undermine Medicare; we know because it is in their DNA to destroy Medicare. But when it comes to families being able to manage their budgets, coming up with that extra 15 per cent on everything across the board—everything that affects their household—this government is so unfair. It is a heartless government that has no idea how difficult it is for Australian families to meet their weekly budgets.

We know that people who live on a pension and low-income families are often forced during the cold winter months to go to bed with their electric blanket because they cannot afford electricity prices. What we will see is a greater impact and cost burden and another new big tax by this government on electricity, on gas, on groceries, on health care and on education, and all other bills will go up and they will keep going up.

A 15 per cent GST will have an enormous impact on Australian families and, in my home state of Tasmania, they can least afford it. We have the most challenges when it comes to people who are unemployed. We have a lot of trouble when it comes to people having the opportunity to go on to tertiary education. So, on top of the plan by this government to erode those opportunities for everyday Tasmanians, the government now wants to increase the GST to 15 per cent.

Senator Ian Macdonald interjecting

Senator POLLEY: It is very easy. Just come in here and tell us that you will not support it. (Time expired)

Senator Ian Macdonald: Be nice.