SUBJECT/S: Malcolm Turnbull’s unfair plan to increase the GST.

TONY BURKE, SHADOW FINANCE MINISTER AND MANAGER OF OPPOSITION BUSINESS: Today, once again, we’re hearing the Government claim that tax reform has to be fair. If it’s fair, they would not expand the GST. Australians know fair tax is about making sure people who can afford to pay more pay a higher proportion. The GST does the exact opposite of that. Whether you expand it by including it on fresh food, or whether you increase it by taking it through to 15 per cent, every change the Government is contemplating on the GST has the same thing in common: it hits hardest the people who can afford it least.

REPORTER: I’ve got two questions. You’ve ruled out supporting any change to the GST. The Greens have done modelling that shows a Carbon Price of $29 per tonne would raise about the same as a 12.5 per cent GST and cost households less. Would you support a Carbon Price as high as $29 per-tonne?

BURKE: The important thing to remember with emissions trading, and emissions trading is what we support, the intention there is not to raise revenue, the intention is to reduce pollution. That’s the key to it. What’s significant today with the conversation about the GST is you can’t have a conversation about the GST without having to talk about compensation. It by definition hurts the people who can afford to be hurt least. That’s by definition, no matter which way you look at, what expanding the GST does. At least when you talk about a price on carbon or emissions trading you’re trying to achieve a reduction in pollution. With the GST what are they trying to achieve? A reduction in shopping? A reduction in people buying fresh food? There’s no policy reason these are things you want to tax. All they end up achieving is putting the greatest burden on people who can’t afford it.

REPORTER: Secondly Tony, has the Labor Party ruled itself out of a genuine tax reform debate if you refuse to budge on one of the biggest areas being of course the GST?

BURKE: We were in the tax reform debate long before the Government came to the party, long before. That’s why we made the moves we made on making sure multinational corporations pay their fair share of tax and about doing something about the extraordinarily generous superannuation concessions, which will end up costing the Budget more than the age pension itself. We’ve been in the tax reform space for a long time. But tax reform shouldn’t mean slugging people who can’t afford it and that’s what expanding the GST always does no matter which way you look at it.

Tony Burke