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Wednesday, 2 December 2015
Page: 9689

Senator POLLEY (Tasmania) (16:36): I rise to speak about the Abbott-Turnbull government's plan to increase the rate of GST, and to broaden its base. With Christmas just around the corner, all the kids are starting to write their 'naughty and nice' letters to Santa, so I thought it was appropriate and timely to talk about the government's 'naughty and nice' lists regarding what they are doing to support families with the cost of living.

Unfortunately, when it comes to the cost of living for Australian families, there is nothing on the government's nice list. In fact, it is completely empty. Their naughty list, however, is another story. This list is a lot longer. This list whacks Australian families left, right and centre. But the naughtiest thing of all on this list is the 15 per cent GST that will increase the cost of everything and hurt every single Australian family. If Mr Turnbull gets his way, the cost of everything will increase and everything will cost more.

For families already struggling to keep their heads above water, increasing the GST will only push up the cost of living, making everything more expensive and leaving families worse off. Every time they have to pay a bill, they will be paying more—be it water, gas, electricity, mobile phones, rates or the internet, it will all cost more. Every time they stand in line at the supermarket checkout, they will be paying more. In fact, they will be paying more than just the 10 per cent, up to the 15 per cent on most items. When it comes to fresh fruit and vegetables, they will be paying 15 per cent more. Every time they go to the doctor, every time they have a hospital visit, every time they have a pathology test, they will be paying more on each and every one of those. Every time they buy a new school uniform for their children, every time they buy their schoolbooks, shoes or clothing or pay for public transport, they will be paying more. Why? It will be because of this government. Whatever they do, every Australian and every Australian family will be paying more.

This is why Labor will never support Malcolm Turnbull's plan to raise the GST. We will never support a tax that is regressive and will hurt those who are the most vulnerable in our communities. There is nothing fair about jacking up the price of everything, especially for those families and those individuals who can least afford it. The government is hurting Australian families instead of helping them. We know they are an unfair government. We know that when they went to the last election, they said there would be no new taxes, there would be no surprises. What did we get? We got cuts to health, cuts to education and cuts for pensioners. Every single thing that this government have done through their last two budgets has been about hurting the most vulnerable in our communities. There is no other way to put it: quite simply, this is a government that is clearly out of touch with the Australian community.

A lot of people have told me how they had a sense of relief when those on the other side in the Liberal Party knifed Tony Abbott. They felt a sense of relief that Mr Turnbull was now Prime Minister. Slowly but surely, it is now sinking in that they have been dealt a dud, because this will be the Prime Minister who will increase the GST, a regressive tax—a tax that will be supported by some in the community.

We hear those on the other side quoting premiers from various states around the country who are talking about the GST. Since this government has come to office, they have cut funding to those states. They are bleeding the states dry and they know they will have little choice, because they will not be able to deliver the important services that they need to deliver to their communities while this federal Liberal government are cutting their funding and making it more and more difficult.

Let's face it, it is a simple thing for those on the other side to clear up the concern about this side talking about this increase to the GST. All they have to say is: 'There will be no increase to the GST. The GST will not be raised to 15 per cent.' It is very simple. But they say that everything is on the table—that includes increasing the GST. What do they do? They come in here and accuse us of being scaremongers and raising concerns unnecessarily in the community. But we know, as the Australian people know, that it is those on the other side who won the last election with their three-word slogans, putting fear into the community, misleading and lying to the Australian people. That is not we are doing. We are saying very clearly that we will never support an increase to the GST. It will not happen. It is against everything that the Labor Party believe in.

It is quite clear that the Liberal government will be getting a bag of coal for Christmas and Malcolm Turnbull is the Christmas cost-of-living Grinch. It is regrettable, because the Australian people put their faith in this government and they have been badly let down by those on the government benches. (Time expired)