GST reveals Turnbull's true colours

November 6, 2015
Malcolm Turnbull wants to raise the rate of the GST.

So the Malcolm Turnbull-led government thinks we need to reform the tax system. When looking at the extent to which multinational corporations are shirking their responsibilities in Australia, this sounds like a good thing.

However, trusting such a task to a prime minister who offshores his own wealth to minimise the amount of tax he pays in Australia, is rather like trusting a company that closes down factories in Australia to open them in countries with cheaper labour costs and lower health and safety standards to look after the interests of Australian workers. It will be nothing more than a race to the bottom.

Despite constant platitudes from the PM and Treasurer that “everything is on the table” and we're only in the “discovery” phase, the only proposal seemingly being discussed is, yet again, raising the GST to 15% — a 50% increase.

Turnbull was at pains to point out on November 5 that he was looking for fairness in the tax system. He described the sort of tax system he envisioned as one that “backs [people] rather than holds them back” — which would be true if you mean backing people on lower incomes, including pensioners, the disabled and unemployed into a corner.

As data from the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling shows, any rise in the GST, either in the base or the rate, would most impact the poor. For more detailed analysis on this see the Our Common Cause column on page 5.

While the removal of Abbott led to a palpable sense of relief in the electorate —seen in Turnbull's growing approval ratings — in reality very little has changed.

Despite Turnbull's flowery rhetoric, the only substantial difference between Abbott and Turnbull has been the doing away with imperial honours —knights and dames. In every other aspect, from the inhumane detention of refugees to cutting back health and education services, the Turnbull government is just a continuation of the same mealy-mouthed neoliberal policies of Abbott. While there has definitely been a change in style, the substance has not followed.

A common refrain, seen more often after the election of Labor governments, is that we need to hold off on any criticism or protest to allow them to “get on with the job”. The problem is that more often than not this is a tactic for self-defeat for the majority of Australian people and allows these governments to go on the offensive before any real opposition can be built.

If it is not already painfully obvious that nothing has really changed with the elevation of Turnbull, this discussion around tax should be sending alarm bells to anyone hoping that Turnbull will not be as harsh on working people as his predecessor.

This is why we need your support. Green Left Weekly has experience in campaigning against the GST. We understood when it was first introduced that it is a tax that unnecessarily shifts the burden of taxation away from those with the most ability to pay on to those that can least afford it. But to continue this fight we need your help.

The government will always have the media willing to back them to the hilt. We rely on the support of our readers and subscribers. You can help us continue this important work by donating to the GLW fighting fund on the toll-free line at 1800 634 206 (within Australia).

Donations can also be made to Green Left Weekly, Commonwealth Bank, BSB 062-006, Account no. 00901992. Otherwise you can send a cheque or money order to PO Box 394, Broadway NSW 2007.

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