Senate debates

Monday, 19 June 2017

Bills

Treasury Laws Amendment (GST Low Value Goods) Bill 2017; In Committee

11:37 am

Photo of Katy GallagherKaty Gallagher (ACT, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

by leave—I move amendments (1) through (4) on sheet 8153 together:

(1) Schedule 1, page 24 (after line 35), after item 53, insert:

53A At the end of Division 177

  Add:

177 -20 Review of provisions relating to offshore supplies of low value goods

(1) By the day after this section commences, the Productivity Minister must, under Part 3 of the Productivity Commission Act 1998, refer to the Productivity Commission for inquiry the matter of the amendments to this Act made by the amending Act, including:

(a) the effectiveness of the amendments; and

(b) whether models for collecting goods and services tax in relation to *offshore supplies of low value goods other than the amendments might be suitable (including evaluation of the effects of the models on Australian small businesses and *consumers); and

(c) any other aspect the Productivity Commission considers relevant to the implementation of the amendments.

(2) In referring the matter to the Productivity Commission for inquiry, the Productivity Minister must:

(a) under paragraph 11(1)(a) of the Productivity Commission Act 1998, require the Productivity Commission to hold hearings for the purposes of the inquiry; and

(b) under paragraph 11(1)(b) of that Act, specify the period ending on 31 October 2017 as the period within which the Productivity Commission must submit its report on the inquiry; and

(c) under paragraph 11(1)(d) of that Act, require the Productivity Commission to make recommendations in relation to the matter referred to in subsection (1).

Note: Under section 12 of the Productivity Commission Act 1998, the Productivity Minister must cause a copy of the Productivity Commission's report to be tabled in each House of the Parliament.

(3) The Productivity Minister must not withdraw the reference before the Productivity Minister has received the report.

(4) For the purposes of paragraph 6(1)(a) of the Productivity Commission Act 1998, the matter mentioned in subsection (1) is taken to be a matter relating to industry, industry development and productivity.

(5) In this section:

  amending Act means theTreasury Laws Amendment (GST Low Value Goods) Act 2017.

  Productivity Minister means the Minister administering the Productivity Commission Act 1998.

(2) Schedule 1, item 65, page 27 (line 5), omit "1 July 2017", substitute "1 July 2018".

(3) Schedule 1, item 65, page 27 (line 6), omit "1 July 2017", substitute "1 July 2018".

(4) Schedule 1, item 65, page 27 (lines 9 and 10), omit "1 July 2017", substitute "1 July 2018".

I did go into this in some detail in my speech during the second reading, but Labor is proposing these amendments basically to deal with the mess that would be otherwise created if the Treasury Laws Amendment (GST Low Value Goods) Bill 2017 were to pass unamended.

These amendments are really about trying to provide the best possible outcome for Australian consumers and retailers. They go to dealing with the issues and concerns that have been raised since these new arrangements were announced and indeed through the Senate process. It is largely around the government's proposed vendor model—how complex and costly it would be to administer—as well as the potential unfavourable impacts on consumers, with the cost of the implementation of this model being passed on, and other issues surrounding compliance, and I think we heard Senator Macdonald raise some of those during the second reading debate this morning.

The amendments the opposition is moving today are really to delay the commencement, firstly, by 12 months, to 1 July 2018. I think it is just inconceivable that the arrangements are in place for low-value goods to be subject to GST within the next 10 days. I do not think anyone is pretending to believe that is actually the case. So, this would deal with that problem which is looming before us. It would also allow for a short Productivity Commission inquiry into the legislation's proposed model of GST imposition on low-value imported goods and other, alternative models, with a short inquiry to report by 31 October 2017, which would allow, again, the time to be provided both to the government and to this chamber or the parliament if there are further issues prior to the commencement of the arrangements on 1 July 2018. These are very important amendments—people genuinely want to see GST being levied on low-value goods, but in a responsible way that will not create chaos.

Can I just respond briefly to comments that Senator Whish-Wilson made in his second reading contribution around the fact that whatever this Productivity Commission's findings might be they are not binding, and there is no commitment that changes would be made. When you look at the amendment we have drafted, it would be a very brave government that would ignore any findings or recommendations from the Productivity Commission about the imposition of these arrangements. That is why we have put them in as we have. We think that will assist the government and, more importantly, these amendments will responsibly deal with a problem that has really been all of the government's own making and try and put in place a reasonable way forward for a principle that we support but an implementation we cannot support. They will deal with those very significant concerns. Even though they do delay these arrangements until 1 July, we are convinced there is no other way to clean up the government's mess.

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