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Bruce Baird should stop playing GST footies

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Hon Stephen Martin MP

Federal Member for Cunningham Shadow Minister for Small Business and Customs Shadow Minister for Sport and Tourism 3 August 1998


The Shadow Minister for Tourism, Stephen Martin, today said that the Managing Director of Tourism Council Australia should come clean about his Liberal pre-selection ambitions for the seat of Cook before he takes the blow torch to the NSW Labor Government while languishing acquiescent to a Goefds and Services Tax (GST).

Mr Martin said that all reports thus far indicate that tourism will not be zero-rated under a GST. The last even mildly negative quote on record from Mr Baird about a GST was over 6 months ago, probably before he turned his attention to knifing Stephen Mutch, where he said:

"The tourism industry has concerns about a GST-given tourism is a service industry it would be even harder hit under this system. For a major employer and export industry this would be a bad result for the economy." (Bruce Baird, Managing Director Tourism Council of Australia, 10 December 1997)

"Since then Mr Baird has made several half hearted calls for zero rating which appear to have gone unheeded. What will he do now? If Mr Baird cannot bring himself to oppose a GST, especially if tourism is not zero-rated - who is he purporting to represent?" said Mr Martin.

"It's about time that the tourism operators across Australia got what they pay for by being members of the industry group —comprehensive support for their industry with a decent and unbiased lobbying effort against a GST.

"All of the other industry groups have been loud and clear in their opposition to a GST:

"A simple trade-off of GST for Wholesale Sales Tax cuts will not offset the GST impact on the tourism industry, relative to manufacturing and primary industries as our exposure to WST is light. The bottom line will be job losses, with regional centres bearing the brunt. An unsympathetic package has the capacity to cost thousands ofjobs." (Chris Brown, Chief Executive Officer, Tourism Task Force 19 April


"The Inbound Tourism Organisation of Australia said a GST potentially would impact heavily on the industry, which generated $16 billion a year in export earnings last year." (Courier Mail, 12/6/98, p 6)

The Howard Government's GST has the potential to cripple one of the nation's fastest-growing industries with grim consequences for employment and national earnings.


There is currently no Federal Government tax on many of the goods and services which tourists spend

money on, such as:

Hotel, motel and other accommodation; Restaurant meals, take-aways, snacks, and food; and Admissions to museums, galleries, performing arts, sporting events and other tourist attractions.

Tourism provides one in nine jobs, contributes $60 billion to the domestic economy and $16 billion in export earnings. A GST threatens Australian jobs, the viability of small business tourism operators and the future of the industry's competitiveness.

"1 today call on Bruce Baird get off the fence — he can't have it both ways. Either oppose the GST (with or without zero rating) for the sake of the tourism industry or bow out with dignity," said Mr Martin.

Contact: Cassandra Gelade 02 6277 4363 or 0411 691 495