Monday, 19 June 2017
Treasury Laws Amendment (GST Low Value Goods) Bill 2017; In Committee
I am inclined to agree with the substance of the amendments that are being proposed. I was a member of the Economics Legislation Committee that looked at this in some detail. Some of the concerns that have been raised by Senator Gallagher were raised in that committee hearing. The committee, in its wisdom I think, unanimously recommended that the legislation be delayed for 12 months because, as Senator Gallagher said, it is almost impossible to expect people to get ready in the next couple of weeks to implement the arrangements. There does seem to me to be some merit in having a closer look at the issues.
This is a bill that must pass at some stage. I will not repeat what I said in my speech on the second reading, but it is important for small business, for Australian retailers, to have the playing field levelled so that competitors who live overseas do not automatically get a 10 per cent benefit on the sale of goods in Australia. The legislation is essential. As I said before, it is long overdue. I am sorry that supporting the delay for another year will mean another year that Australian retailers will have this unfair competition, but I do not see any other way.
I did want ask the minister, as I foreshadowed in my speech on the second reading, to again explain why the vendor model was preferred over the logistics model, bearing in mind, as I understand it, that the logistics model is already in place for goods imported into Australia of over $1,000 in value. If that is the case, wouldn't it be ever so much more simple just to extend that to goods under $1,000? Quite frankly, I understand that these days—I have not been involved in this—you press a button on the computer and it does it all. You press a button and it collects the money; you press another button and it sends it to the Australian government. I just cannot understand where the problem is, so I ask the minister why the vendor model was preferred over the logistics model, which common sense would tell me is better. Could the minister also comment on the things that, again, I mentioned in my speech on the second reading—that the logistics model would return $1.8 billion in revenue, whereas according to Treasury the vendor model will only return $300 million. Also, could the minister comment on the issues, as I understand them, that Treasury have calculated that by the time the whole scheme is rolled out the compliance will be only 54 per cent under the vendor model. I would be interested if the minister could mention those. That is the only part I will take in this debate. I am inclined at this stage to support the amendments being proposed by the Labor Party.