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ACOSS [Australian Council of Social Services] toys with GST.

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Hon Gareth Evans QC MP

Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Treasurer


19 June 1998




By playing footsie with a GST, ACOSS has abandoned the interests of ordinary Australians.


ACOSS admits that there is no way a GST can be guaranteed never to rise.


Yet it leaves the way open for a GST beginning at 5 per cent or higher - in the full knowledge that the GST has risen in 21 out of 23 countries.


To believe a low rate will be maintained even in the medium term, and to accept that any compensation package will be maintained, represents a triumph of hope over experience.


ACOSS toys with a GST of 5 per cent which exempts only rent and financial services -but taxes the basic essentials of life for the first time.


Low and middle income earners would have to pay a regressive new tax on food, on medical bills and trips to the dentist, on rates, phone calls, gas and electricity bills, on education, on bus and train fares, on trips to the footy and to the movies.


If the rate is up to 10 per cent, ACOSS would have rents exempted and food, health, education and child care services zero-rated. But still every other basic service will be regressively taxed for the first time. That means new taxes on rates, phone calls, gas and electricity bills, train and bus fares, trips to the footy and to the movies - and the list goes on.


Whatever the rate, the GST compliance costs are equally heavy. And they’ll be borne not just by the 75,000 businesses who now collect WST - but by more than a million firms acting as unpaid tax collectors for the Government.


And a GST at any rate - will create not a single new job.


ACOSS is right when it says the main task in tax reform is the repair of the income tax base. And it’s right to call for the removal of poverty traps confronting ordinary families. And ifs absolutely right in rejecting a tax mix switch from income taxes to consumption taxes as inherently unfair.


But how could ACOSS be conned by John “never ever” Howard into accepting Peter Costello's “snake-oil” GST?


Contact: Margot Marshall 0419 497 103