Interview with ABC Illawarra On Tax Reform

MELINDA JAMES: Joining me now is Stephen Jones, Labor Member for Throsby. Stephen Jones would you be happy to fight an election on an increase to the GST?

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STEPHEN JONES, MEMBER FOR THROSBY: We should be fighting an election on good policy and I just don’t think that it is good policy to be putting an increased tax on food, on access to healthcare services and access to education. There are very good reasons why they were carved out last time around. Even the Coalition back in 1998 could understand that if you put an increased cost on these goods than the people who most need to access them, the low income community, would be dissuaded from using them. It is an increased cost burden on the people who can least afford it, we will be opposing it.

JAMES: What about an increase in the rate if there was compensation for people who are less well off?

JONES: Two points to make about that. You only compensate when harm is done and if you have got to go to point of needing to compensate than you are acknowledging that the tax policy that you are putting in place is harming certain people in the community. That on its own should be enough to make you sit back and ask whether this is the right thing to do. Second thing is this; if you are going to go after a tax which will tax the lowest incomes earners in the community the hardest than you should at least have asked - have we done everything possible to make sure that we are taxing the wealthiest in the community in the most appropriate ways? We have offered up two ideas in this area, multinational tax avoidance and closing down the loopholes and giveaways in the superannuation which benefit the wealthiest at the expense of the poorest. If the Government was serious about tax reform before they even started talking about GST they would say here are two things we can get started on.

JAMES: They are two things which won’t reach $65.6 billion additional dollars in revenue though. I mean that would be a fair whack to the Budget, we talk about Budget repair and –

JONES: Well hang on, that is $65 billion dollars being taken out of households throughout the country. That money does not come out of thin air, if David Gillespie is right on this – and it is very courageous for him representing one of the poorest electorates in the country to say that we are going to tax the poorest the hardest – that money is not coming from nowhere. It is coming from our wallets.

JAMES: Where will the revenue come from under a Labor Government? That is the question that Bill Shorten will be asked again and again as this discussion of the GST amps up in the lead up to the election.

JONES: Sure and it is the right question. We have offered up two areas where we urgently need to act. Even Joe Hockey, the former Treasurer, said in his last speech in Parliament these are two things we need to do – multinational tax avoidance and closing down loopholes in superannuation. These are things that are crying out to be fixed and unless you do those two things you are not serious about tax reform in this country. Or really you are for looking for lazy answers that hurt the poorest members of the community the hardest.

JAMES: We’ve seen state Liberal governments throw their support behind increased GST revenue in one way or another. In New South Wales the state Premier Mike Baird has been saying that increasing the rate is welcome. The state Labor governments have had a bit of a bet each way, saying we oppose it but if the Turnbull Government is elected we will say thanks very much for the money.

JONES: Well, Dan Andrews and Annastacia Palaszczuk have been quite strong on this. They stood on an election campaign platform that said we would not support an increase in GST and they will continue to prosecute that argument throughout the course of their term in government. If the landscape changes it would be a pretty brave government that said that we will not take new revenue coming our way. But they are taking a principled stand and saying that we don’t think is the best way to go or the right way to go.

JAMES: Okay, Stephen Jones thank you for your time this morning.

JONES: Thank you. 

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