In 2004, Alan Ramsay wrote:
“Telling a lie is easier than killing it, even for a prime minister. A lie is a lie, and once it is out on the street no amount of passing traffic can ever truly skittle it. John Howard told a lie on May 2, 1995. Then he told more lies to reinforce the first lie. To protect himself from what he judged a serious threat to his last chance to be prime minister, Howard lied and went on lying. Now, three years later, he is telling still more lies to hide that first lie.
Ramsay was of course writing about then Prime Minister John Howard and Howard’s never-ever promise to never-ever introduce the GST.
“Suggestions I have left open the possibility of a GST are completely wrong. A GST or anything resembling it is no longer Coalition policy. Nor will it be policy at any time in the future. It is completely off the political agenda in Australia.”
Amanda Vanstone was somewhat more honest than ‘Honest John’ stating that, “I wouldn’t have tried it from Opposition. You’ve got to wait until you get into Government and sell it there”.
The GST was subsequently introduced by Howard government on the 1st July, 2000 with predictions of how its introduction would hit hardest the poorest in society while at the same time doing little to tackle the cash in hand economy. On winning the election Howard promptly declared that victory gave him a mandate for the GST. He however only succeeded in getting it through a hostile Senate after doing a deal with the Australian Democrats to exempt food.
Howard’s sales pitch to the Australian people included:
“This is something the country has needed for more than twenty years and we’re doing it because it is the right thing for the nation.
It will give us a fairer taxation system.
It will cut our income tax.
It will strengthen us in the world.
It will guarantee the revenue we need to support the health, education, police and other services so important for a fair society.
The new tax system is designed to reward Australians and their families with lower income tax and increased family benefits”.
Has the GST ever lived up to what was promised?
KERRY O’BRIEN: Pensioners are emerging as the latest bloc of voters to test the Howard Government’s promise to listen to their problems- in this case, over the GST.
They were due to receive a 4 per cent increase to their pensions today in line with the cost of living.
But they only received 2 per cent…
KERRY O’BRIEN: Edith Morgan of Pensioners and Superannuants Federation. . . says that pensioners are coming to her saying, “We have paid our own way all our lives. Suddenly, after the GST, we’re going to have to go to charities and collect food parcels to live on.”
KERRY O’BRIEN: The peak lobby group for the welfare sector, ACOSS, says that the compensation package was always inadequate.
They said that before it came in. They say the facts have now borne that out.
They say that in particular as people, pensioners, the disadvantaged, are experiencing the full cost. That’s being passed on to them by retailers.
Also, and from 2012:
TAX dodgers are cheating the country of up to $100 billion a year in undeclared income through the cash economy more than a decade after the introduction of the GST.
“It was said the GST would put an end to the cash economy but that was always a flawed argument,” he (Taxpayers Association spokesperson Roger Timms) said.
“Clearly it hasn’t reduced since the GST, in some ways it has promoted the cash economy. If a householder pays a tradesman in cash the householder saves on GST.”
Since it’s inception the spectre of raising the GST has been used as a stick with which members of both parties have used to try to beat their opposite numbers. The slightest hint or a leak from an ‘unnamed source’ would have leaders and treasurers and their equivalent opposition spokespeople scurrying into a series of denials.
April 22, 2008: ‘It is very important that Mr Rudd guarantee Australians there will be no increase in the GST’, Brendan Nelson
May 18, 2013: ‘Abbott plans to raise GST’, claims Bill Shorten.
Peter Martin recently wrote, “Hockey and Abbott spent the entire election campaign never entirely ruling out an expanded GST, as they shouldn’t have“.
The Abbott government is now of course in a complete state of denial that they ever countenanced such an opinion.
The Abbott government has dismissed calls from Treasury secretary Martin Parkinson to consider raising taxes to get the budget out of trouble, including lifting the rate of the GST.
Treasurer Joe Hockey’s office on Thursday rejected the suggestion that the government would raise the GST to plug holes in the budget.
According to all economists, there as likely to be some massive ones..holes in the budget.
“A broader GST covering currently exempt services such as private health and private education would fix a hole in the tax system and get serious money from Australians with serious money”.
However, it is unsurprising that Hockey has rejected all worthy suggestions, even suggestions that the GST is something which we should be talking about, especially given that this would mean tackling the ‘serious money’. . . and anyway:
Joe Hockey criticises Treasury as not trustworthy….
2013 ELECTION Shadow treasurer will not produce final forecast of deficit or surplus because Treasury projections are ‘not credible’… The Coalition is refusing to commit to a final budget bottom line when it releases policy costings because it does not believe the Treasury figures…
So there you are, once again nothing will be done, the Abbott government clearly incapable of playing hard ball with a difficult opponent (such as private health or private education), and any GST would doubtless instead of tacking private and wealthy institutions would instead be looking at bread rolls and goat’s milk. Given that those looking to take the majority of the hits, the least powerful, those on welfare, are going to be hit big time in the forthcoming budget, any attempt to add further to this pain would be equivalent of hitting someone over the head while simultaneously stabbing them in the back. Clearly Hockey’s current priority is to tackle welfare, and any further forays into real reform will have to wait until – next time.