Thursday, 14 November 2013
Goods and Services Tax
Shortland electorate is an electorate that has a number of relocatable or moveable home parks. I was very disturbed to learn that the ATO released a draft ruling on 30 October this year that has the potential to increase the rental costs of over 100,000 low-income earners by imposing a 10 per cent GST on them immediately—and not only will it be imposed on them immediately; it will also be retrospective.
In the Shortland electorate, there are over 5,000 people living in relocatable home parks—people living in Valhalla, Teraglin, Sunset Strip, Sanctuary, Macquarie Shores and Lakeside Leisure Living, just to name a few of the parks. These are all older people. They are all people who are 55 years or older. The homes they live in cost up to $300,000 to purchase and place on the land in the parks. They choose to do that because they feel safe. It is a communal lifestyle. This is the life choice that they have made.
This ruling has the potential to impact on them very negatively financially. It has the potential to have an enormous commercial impact on the park owners. In 2002, when the GST was introduced, moveable home estates were considered commercial residential premises. Nothing has changed since that time. What park owners offer, how parks are structured and how residents pay their rent are still exactly the same as in 2000. There is absolutely nothing that has happened. I do not see how imposing a GST on the vulnerable people who live in residential parks can be condoned.
There has been no consultation on this important issue. I have been in contact with many residents within my electorate. ARPRA, the Affiliated Residential Park Residents Association, is running a campaign to see that justice is done for the people who live in parks I understand that they will be visiting Canberra to take their case to the Treasurer. Ninety-five per cent of the people who live in these parks are pensioners. They rely on their pensions. They are all eligible for rental assistance. Yet they are going to be hit with this GST on their rent.
I do not think that somebody sitting in the ATO would understand what this lifestyle is about. They would think that moveable home parks are the same as caravan parks. This is an issue that we had to deal with when the GST was introduced. We had to make these people understand what the lifestyle is in one of these relocatable home parks. I see the member for Robertson sitting on the other side of the House, and I know that there are a number of residents in Robertson who live in relocatable home parks. I hope that she joins me in this fight to see justice for all those people who we represent here in this place.
I am going to fight and fight really hard to see that these low-income people who are living in residential parks—older, vulnerable people—do not have to pay this GST. This new tax will really impact on them. I am sure that the government does not want to hurt these vulnerable people. People living in these villages, as I have already said, are generally pensioners receiving low incomes. They have no extra cash to throw around. It cannot happen. This GST cannot be imposed on the vulnerable people who are living in these residential parks. They have chosen this lifestyle. They have planned their retirement. Part of that plan did not include paying the GST on the rent for their site. Those people who have to rent their relocatable homes within the park will not pay the GST. Yet if you own your home you have to pay GST. That is not good enough.