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The GST implementation has duped everyone - and it's here to stay

By Paul Keating - posted Thursday, 15 March 2001

Mike Nahan of the Institute of Public Affairs writing in the Australian Financial Review on February 26 says of the Howard Government: "As a result {of the GST}, the tax take measured as a share of GDP is the highest in history. It is sucking up more money than ever expected."

The dopey right has finally woken up.

A Labor government gives Australia a Revenue to GDP share equal to the United States, the lowest or second-lowest in the industrial world, and a Liberal Government comes along and blows it into the stratosphere. Aided and abetted of course by those grand strategists, The Business Council of Australia.


Remember all that rhetorical nonsense about how unworkable the Wholesale Sales Tax was? How inefficient it was?. How a Tim Tam was taxed at X and a chocolate biscuit taxed at Y. All that twaddle from Costello.

Well, we can all see now how ‘inefficient’ the Wholesale Sales Tax was; it was collected over a relative handful of taxing points. The GST has upwards of a million. Virtually everyone in business.

Remember the Labor rhetoric about every small business and single proprietor becoming a branch of the Tax Office? And how true it was?

Remember also the derision for these views from people like John Ralph and other BCA luminaries?

Every small business in the country is now a Tax Office and Howard, that supposed supporter of small business, deserves a caning for it.

The Treasury got what it wanted; another major tax base, more Revenue to GDP. Small business and the poor copped it in the neck.


Graham Samuels, we are told, is proud of ‘recruiting’ Robert Fitzgerald, the then President of ACOSS, to the cause of the GST, paving the way politically for its introduction by Howard.

Not only was small business conned but the poor were conned too. ACOSS needs to be marginalised for its treachery to a dependent constituency which trusted it. I only hope Fitzgerald in his new incarnation as a NSW public servant and a member of Samuels’s Competition Council is saying his ‘Hail Marys’ with the other do-gooders, because you can bet the BCA and the Treasury aren't.

But it is the naivety of Nahan which is so breathtaking.

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This article was first published in The Australian Financial Review on February 28, 2001.

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About the Author

The Hon. Dr Paul Keating was Labor Prime Minister of Australia from 1993 to 1996. He is Visiting Professor of Public Policy at the University of New South Wales.

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