QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE: Goods and Services Tax

Mr HUSIC (Chifley) (14:43): My question is to the Prime Minister. My electorate of Chifley in Western Sydney has amongst the highest rates of diabetes in metropolitan Australia. How will slugging people in my electorate with a GST on fresh fruit and vegetables encourage them to buy healthy food for their families, and will the Prime Minister now rule out hitting every Australian with a GST on fresh fruit and vegetables?

 

Mr TURNBULL (WentworthPrime Minister) (14:43): I will be brief, because I answered this question with my previous answer. The honourable member should understand—I know he does understand—that in any consideration of changes to the tax system it is important to keep all proposals, all ideas, on the table so that there is a broad discussion.

Mr Champion: For how long?

The SPEAKER: The member for Wakefield has been warned.

Mr TURNBULL: The honourable member shouts out 'How long?' I will tell you how short it was under his government. When Kevin Rudd and Wayne Swan produced the Henry tax review after sitting on it for months and months, they effectively ruled out everything in it before it was published and then came up with only one brilliant idea, which was the resource super profits tax. That was great! What a brilliant idea that was! Ultimately, after they did several backflips and lost a Prime Minister, it ended up raising no money at all, although, of course, they did commit billions of dollars of expenditure on the back of it. The fact is that good policy formation requires open discussion.

The honourable member obviously believes that the GST should not be extended to fresh food, and that is a powerful point. It is a very good point, and he should make that point. But the honourable member should understand that the government is going to consider all of the options which are being raised right across the board. But I would say this to the honourable member: we are utterly clear that, firstly, changes to the tax system must be done in a way that promotes economic growth, promotes incentives, gives people incentives and backs them as they choose to work, save and invest, and they obviously have to meet the fundraising requirements of the government—they have to pay for all of the government services. So the tax system has to be supportive of economic growth at the same time as it raises money.

It also has to be fair. The honourable member knows very well that we have an elaborate social welfare system which compensates and supports the less well-off in the face of across-the-economy charges like the GST and all the other things that everybody pays the same price for, whether they are rich or poor. The real issue is one of economic efficiency and equity. Both of those are clear commitments and goals of the government, as they should be of any government, but they are especially so of the government I am proud to lead.

Mr Champion interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Wakefield will cease interjecting. It is his final warning!

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Ed Husic MP
Federal Labor Member for Chifley


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