The Australian Labour Party has called for greater unity within the ranks to oppose any hike in Goods and Services Tax. This follows conflicting positions being taken by its Federal and state leaders on the crucial issue.
According to a senior MP of the Australian Labor Party, there is a need for “iron discipline” within the party to oppose the move for increasing the GST. Though the Federal Government is debating the option of GST hike, there has been no final decision yet.
South Australian MP Nick Champion called for a binding resolution on the matter at the National Executive for enforcing a single view on the issue. “We really need an iron discipline in the party to defeat what is a very regressive taxation measure,” Champion told the ABC. The MP said it is important for the Australian Labor Party to adopt a clear position on GST before it faces the federal election this year.
However, such a strong anti-GST stand is being construed as a challenge to South Australia Premier Jay Weatherill. The SA Premier is an ardent advocate of hike in GST for funding health and education services in his state. The conflicting positions are putting Labour Party in a quandary as far as GST is concerned. Weatherill is not only backing a change in GST but also seeking a share of it for states to bolster the service sector.
Weatherill said the Australian Labour party MP had the right to criticise GST hike. But he rejected the call for a binding resolution to enforce uniformity of views. “I’d be surprised if the Labor party turned its back on its democratic positions and started gagging state premiers from advocating what they believe are in the state’s interests,” Weatherill added. But the senior MP reiterated that any increase in the GST would go against the values followed by ALP.
Meanwhile, Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison also raised concerns on adding GST to health and education sectors. He said there had been calls to raise the GST to 15 percent and bring more services to its ambit. The Parliamentary Budget Office in 2015 argued that removing GST exemptions from health and education sectors would add AU$6.4 billion and AU$4.9 billion extra annual revenue to the exchequer.
“The issues that were present back when the GST was introduced around health and education are still there today,” Morrison told Sky News.