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GST debate: Weatherill backs Turnbull, Marshall backs Shorten

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State Liberal leader Steven Marshall has set his party implacably against any GST increase, arguing that raising the rate to 15 per cent would worsen South Australia’s flagging unemployment rate and instead urging greater spending efficiencies.

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“Certainly in the Liberal Party, we don’t think that we’re going to create any more jobs in SA by increasing taxes,” Marshall told ABC891 today.

“That’s going to cost jobs at a time when we already have the highest unemployment rate in the entire nation.”

Not for the first time, the State Government and Opposition have found themselves at odds with their respective federal parties on a key national debate.

Weatherill, while long decrying the GST as a “regressive tax”, significantly softened his rhetoric on the issue some months ago, indicating he was open to a national debate as long as axed health spending was reinstated and low to middle-income earners were protected.

“Nobody wants to say it out loud because it’s unpopular to say it…but we’re not raising enough money to actually meet the needs that the community are putting on us,” the Premier told FIVEaa today.

“It’s a simple truth.

“If we’re not talking about increasing the overall tax take, then you’re not going to be able to essentially fill the hole that was created by the $80 billion cuts to health and education that occurred in Joe Hockey and Tony Abbott’s first budget.”

The Federal Government, while not committing to a policy on GST, has revived the debate with strategic leaks to News Corp outlets over the weekend.

Treasurer Scott Morrison did the media rounds this morning, insisting he doesn’t want to slug people with higher taxes, he merely wants a better tax system that encourages the nation to grow.

He flagged “pretty significant” tax changes but wouldn’t specifically back a proposal to hike the GST to 15 per cent.

He did, however, praise Nationals MP David Gillespie for asking the Parliamentary Budget Office to cost a New Zealand-style model that also broadens the GST to more goods and services.

“This is a good contribution,” he told ABC radio.

The office found it would generate an extra $65.6 billion for a total take of more than $130 billion in 2017-18.

Morrison insisted everything was on the table during what he labelled a “discovery phase” with the states and territories.

But federal Labor has maintained its opposition to any GST increase, with SA frontbencher Amanda Rishworth telling Sky News the Government was trying to suggest a higher GST would help hospitals and schools funding, while cutting state taxes and personal incomes taxes.

“To suggest … that it is not going to harm anyone is, quite frankly, mythical,” she said.

Weatherill, however, told ABC radio the GST debate provided a chance for “a sensible discussion on the future needs of this nation in terms of health care and how we’re going to pay for it”.

“At the very least, I do give credit to the Commonwealth for having an open and honest discussion about it,” he said.

-with AAP

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