PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA
MONDAY, 1 JULY 2020
SUBJECTS: ATO website crash; Liberals call to increase the GST.
STEPHEN JONES, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Well, it's a pretty ordinary way to start the financial year. Thousands of Australians logging on trying to get early access to their superannuation and trying to put in their tax return because they're strapped for cash and the Tax Office website crashes. This is a repeat offense. This has happened time and time and time again, and it's not good enough. Entirely predictable when Australian households are doing it tough when, small businesses want access to cash, that they're going to want to get on to the Tax Office, get into the early access to superannuation scheme as soon as it is available to them and once again the Tax Office system crashes. What is it about this government and their IT systems? They're pretty quick to point the finger at other people when things go wrong, but I think time and again when they make a mistake, they won't apologise. I think the small businesses, I think the households of Australia deserve an apology from the Government for this Monumental cock-up. It has real life consequences, people who are doing it tough again are going to take longer to get access to the money, which is theirs, take longer to get access to their tax returns and that's simply not good enough. The Government's out of touch. Out of touch with the hardship that people are going through time. And again, we get a big announcement, but that announcement falls through because the Government isn't doing the follow through. Systems falling over, administrative errors, it's simply not good enough.
JOURNALIST: Stephen, we’ve seen calls from some of the Liberal backbenchers for consideration of broadening the base of the GST. It’s 20 years on since it was introduced. What’s Labor’s position?
JONES: I don’t think in the middle of a recession, the biggest recession since the 1930s, anybody should be proposing that Australians are going to pay more for food. Because literally, that's what it means. What the New South Wales Liberal Treasurer is saying is that in the middle of a deep recession, Australian households should be paying more for food. Well, I think if Scott Morrison has a plan to make households pay more for food, he should stand up today and admit that that's what he's going to do. You shouldn’t be trying to keep it secret like your secret plan for JobKeeper and his secret plan for superannuation. He shouldn't be trying to keep this secret until after the Eden-Monaro by-election. If Scott Morrison has a plan to make Australian households to pay more for food, he should come clean and admit it.
JOURNALIST: Is there a genuine concern that this could be a possibility though, maybe not now, maybe not in a month, but 6, 12 months, a year or two?
JONES: This is not the first time that senior Liberal Party ministers or senior Liberal Party backbenchers have come out and said we need to increase the GST. But let's be very clear when they talk about broadening the base of the GST, they mean Australians should be playing 10 percent more for their food. In the middle of a deep recession, when over a million and a half Australians are out of work, when Australians don't know whether they've got a job or when they're going to get the next one, are we seriously saying that what we should be doing is jacking up the price of a household grocery bill. It's crazy.