Wednesday, 3 February 2016
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister representing the Treasurer, Senator Cormann. I refer to the minister's statement yesterday that the government has made no decision to increase the rate of the GST and to the Prime Minister's statement last week that changes to the GST are being actively considered by the government. Is the government actively considering broadening the GST base?
Both statements are true and not inconsistent with each other. The government has not made a decision to increase the rate of the GST but, as we have said very clearly, we have been engaged in a conversation with the Australian people and with the state and territory governments for some time about how our tax system can be made more growth friendly. Unlike the Labor Party, which ruled things in and out right from the word go, what we have said is that we will look at the tax system as a whole. When I last looked, the GST was actually part of the tax system. So when you are having a conversation about how you can improve your tax system that necessarily will involve a conversation about the GST and whether there are some improvements that can be made in the tax mix overall.
Let me confirm again that no decision has been made by the government to increase the rate of the GST. What we have decided is that we want to continue to strengthen growth and create more jobs and we want to build on the progress we have made over the last 2½ years in a second term of the Turnbull government, subject to the trust and the confidence of the Australian people. Of course, between now and the election we will be making our case on how we propose to strengthen growth and create better opportunities for people to get ahead, and people will see how Labor has not learnt the lessons of the past. It is at it again. It is yet again spending money it has not got. We as a country are working to digest Labor's last spending binge. This is not the time to go back to a spend, borrow, tax Labor government.
We have been very interested to see the very constructive and positive engagement that we have had with the South Australian Labor Premier, Jay Weatherill, and, yes, the New South Wales Premier, Mike Baird. Unlike the destructive and negative federal Labor Party led by a weak leader in Mr Shorten, we welcome the fact that stronger leaders like the South Australian Labor Premier and the New South Wales Premier, Mike Baird have constructively and positively engaged with us, working with us on how we can put our country on a stronger economic and fiscal foundation for the future. Of course, as part of that conversation it is very important that we continue to work through proposals on how we can make our tax system more growth friendly.
Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. I note the minister's refusal yesterday to guarantee that the white paper on tax reform promised in 2013 will be delivered by the election in 2016. Will the Turnbull government deliver a tax white paper in this term and will it include a Liberal plan to increase the GST to 15 per cent?
It is funny to see how Labor is getting so obsessed with process. What I can assure Senator Bilyk and what I can assure people across Australia is that in good time before the next election this government will release our policy to improve our tax system, which we would intend to implement after the next election subject to receiving the trust and confidence of the Australian people at that election. We have not made any decisions yet. We have not reached any landing point yet on how we can best improve our tax system moving forward. When we are in a position to make relevant announcements, of course we will.