It’s on again!
Remember the lead up to the 1998 Federal Election? The tale telling about Howard’s proposed Goods and Services Tax? The same tax that Howard said would never become part of Liberal Party policy? Well, dear reader, it’s back to that merry-go-round for we voters because the easy way for any government to increase revenue is to tax the plebeian class. That’s you & me.
This ‘debate’ was started yesterday via the Murdoch press (surprise! surprise!) with front page yarns by Samantha Maiden saying that Treasurer Morriscum was mooting changes to the now 15 year old GST. Was he? Wasn’t he? It all seemed to be conjecture, even down to Sinclair Davidson and Peter Martin on Radio National’s Sunday Extra satirically claiming that the Murdoch rags were “making stuff up” in order to garner news, now that their drip feed from government had been sacked & replaced by something a little more circumspect. Well, dear reader, conjecture no more, for it seems that government is setting about doing precisely that.
Personally, I have no problem with a broadly based consumption tax, PROVIDED, that I’m adequately compensated. The original Howard GST, which we’ve laboured under for the past 15 years, is a molly-coddled, much maligned and clumsily disabled beast which was never going to be what it ought to have been. A simple broad-based revenue system. Instead, we wound up with a crippled additional tax, and in the case of consumable items such as fuel, a tax on a tax. There is no GST applicable to fresh foods or some basic processed foods like bread. Yet there is a 10% impost on other food types. Health and education costs are exempt, as should remain the case in my view, as we are an aging population, and we do need to encourage population growth, and a smarter growing population, so lay off education and health, thanks Treasury.
In addition, we need to more fairly and equitably spread the overall tax burden across our population. Hiking the GST WILL impact low and middle income earners, small business and pensioners. Appropriate taxation recompense needs to be provided by way of abolishing existing indirect taxation – sales taxes on motor vehicles for business purposes for example. Indeed, the original purpose of a broad-based consumption tax was to replace a huge number of indirect, State-based sales taxes, which sadly due to political duck-shoving, never figured into the overall taxation package.
So, yes, I don’t care if I pay a 15% surcharge for a banana. I DO care a hell of a lot if I’m paying 15% on top of a 38.143% per litre tax everytime I fuel my business vehicle, which is every day. I DON’T expect to have to pay another 15% on top of the already horrendous cost of seeing my GP for 10 minutes to have prescriptions renewed. A $75 GP visit would jump to $89 from which I’d still only get $34 rebated through Medicare. That alone is a whole nest of vipers which has to be addressed as part & parcel of any change to taxation across the board. Superannuation tax concessions aimed at the high income end of society have to be removed, in order that compensation arrangements to low & middle income earners can be sustained. Similarly, alterations to negative gearing concessions, resource industry R&D grants and subsidies, and the really big one – nailing foreign corporates who off-shore profits to avoid taxation – must be adequately addressed.
The conversation which must be had with the Australian electorate will need to be both sophisticated and easily understood. It cannot be allowed to be derailed by political/ideological conveniences for the purposes of retaining or grabbing additional political power post 2016. I think we all realise that the Turnbull-led government must go to the people soon if it is to ride back on the popularity amongst we plebs of it’s leader. That popularity will wane rapidly and crumble if the conversation is perfunctory, purely to achieve an as yet clearly unstated end.
So, yes, Mr Morriscum, let’s see the colour of your money, as it were. Let’s have the debate. Let’s see just how willing you are to be open and forthcoming with the Australian people, and how well you can tell a tale which YOU tell us all has to be told. Motherhood statements uttered on early morning radio are one thing. Substance is quite something else.