GST, Rollback, tax cuts, small business

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June 28, 2001
Tax Reform
July 1, 2001

GST, Rollback, tax cuts, small business

Transcript No. 2001/086





Interview on AM Radio

with Katherine McGrath

Friday, 29 June 2000

SUBJECTS: GST, Rollback, tax cuts, small business


Mr Costello thanks for joining us this morning.


Thank you.


It has been a rollercoaster of a year for you trying to sell this GST. There

was first of all anger over the BAS. It has dominated the political agenda.

Do you have any regrets about the way it was designed or the way it was sold?


Well, you have got to bear in mind that we werent able to implement the policy

as we took it to the election and that various changes were made in the Senate

which complicated things. But all that tells you, is, any further changes will

just complicate things further and you would have seen in the papers, today

84 per cent of Australians dont believe the Labor Party on Rollback and why

would you, because thats just a recipe for further complication. But working

within the parameters, as enacted, we are now a year into the New Tax System.

I pay tribute to the businesses of Australia which overwhelmingly have adjusted.

It has been a


Do you wish though you had made it less complicated, you had moved on the BAS

more quickly.


Well, I wish that it had been less complicated, in the sense that we had been

able to implement our policy. But you have got to bear in mind that there is

a Senate and the Labor Party opposed all tax reform. So we had to negotiate

with the Democrats in the Senate. But I pay tribute to the small businesses

of Australia. We have come through the first year. Overwhelmingly, they have

shown goodwill and adjusted. People said 150 other countries in the world could

have a GST but Australia couldnt do it. We can do it, we did it, and now further

benefits will come




cuts in company tax, abolition of Financial Institutions Duty, abolition of

stamp duties on shares.


Yet, small business are the group that are still yelling. The CPA found that

most businesses are angry and expect the pain to continue – 59 per cent found

negative cash flows, 58 per cent said they expect it to go on. Now that concern

is still there, you have got to convince them, you know, it doesnt look as

though they are convinced yet?


Well it depends where you are in small business. If you are selling to consumers

you are actually getting a cash flow benefit. That is, you get GST and you hold

it for three months. There is a lot of businesses that have actually benefited

very considerably from that. If you are further up the production chain, you

dont get that benefit depending on your terms of trade. But lets look where

we have come from. We have abolished Wholesale Sales Tax. Nobody in Australia

wants a Wholesale Sales Tax. Now, a year ago Labor wanted a Wholesale Sales

Tax. They have given up the fight. We have cut income taxes, we have cut company

taxes, we have followed 150 countries in the world, we could do it, and we did,

we now have a GST, and from here on in what do we do? We abolish company tax

on Sunday, sorry we abolish Financial Institutions Duty on Sunday, we cut company

tax by another 4 per cent, we abolish stamp duties on shares, and in addition

to that we have reductions in capital gains.


But look where we are 12 months down the track. You know, youre saying that,

you know, small business are doing well and if they dont realise it then they

should be, and small business is saying to you no, we are not happy. So you

have got to still convince them havent you, you have still got some work to



No. As I said, I am saying that we acknowledge the work that small business

has done over the last 12 months. It has been a magnificent effort. The first

12 months were always going to be the hardest as you go to a new tax system.

But 150 countries in the world have done it and this is the critical point.

Is there anybody in Australia who now says GST should be abolished and we should

re-introduce Wholesale Sales Tax? Now, even the Labor Party, which apart from

Swaziland, was the last political party left standing in the world in favour

of Wholesale Sales Taxes has given up the fight. It now says GST is a better

tax system than Wholesale Sales Tax.


Well, when will you tell the community how much more money is coming in? There

are more ABN numbers, we know that, how much more money are you getting?


Well, in the Budget we showed that the New Tax system has obviously led to

additional compliance. You have seen it with a lot of barristers, for example,

in Sydney. The estimate of additional compliance was about two or three billion

dollars, and it was out of that that pensioners were able to be paid a bonus.

The prisoners of war of the Japanese were given long overdue compensation last

week, and for the self-funded retiree there will be further in additional tax

refunds coming from 1 July.


Treasurer Costello thanks for speaking to AM this morning.


Thanks very much.