The Guardian June 2, 1999

Democrat collusion on GST condemned

The meeting of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Australia 
over the weekend of May 29-30 issued the following statement condemning the 
Democrat's collusion with the Howard Government on the GST.

Those negotiating with the Howard Government on behalf of the Australian 
Democrats, in advocating support for the Government's tax package, the 
central feature of which is a Goods and Services Tax, have once again 
displayed their fundamentally conservative position.

They have ignored the clear opposition of the majority of the Australian 
people to any form of GST.

No matter how a GST is dressed up or what so-called exemptions are made, it 
remains inevitably a regressive tax which further assists in the process of 
transferring wealth from the many to the few. 

This is confirmed by the enthusiasm with which big business circles have 
welcomed the prospect of a GST and bemoaned any obstacle or hindrance 
placed in the way of its implementation.

The existing taxation system is fundamentally progressive while a GST is 
fundamentally regressive. The new tax package does little to address the 
massive tax avoidance by big business and the wealthy.

Meg Lees has done her party's members and supporters, the working people, 
low paid and pensioners of Australia a grave disservice and follows the 
equally dishonourable example set by former leader Cheryl Kernot in her 
support for the Howard Government's anti-trade union Workplace Relations 

The Democrats' leader, Meg Lees, had insisted on foods being removed from a 
GST but this has been watered down to only "basic foods"  whatever that 
means. Other changes that the Democrats also claimed they would insist on, 
including environmental issues, have been abandoned.

The Democrats know that a future government or even the present Howard 
Government will be able to make changes and whittle away the concessions 
they have made to establish the principle of a GST. Once it has been 
introduced, it is inevitable that its scope will be gradually widened to 
include all goods and services.

Instead of this unprincipled act bringing credit to the Australian 
Democrats or placing them in the "big league", it is already bringing about 
a strong backlash, even among their own members.

Far from keeping the Howard Government "honest" the leaders of the 
Australian Democrats have participated in a fundamental attack on the 
rights and living standards of the Australian people. They have deserted 
honesty and principle and are incurring the anger of wide sections of the 
Australian people.

The Australian Democrats must reconsider their unprincipled decision.

We call on individuals and organisations to forward protests or a copy of 
this statement to Meg Lees, leader of the Democrats, while supporting those 
Democrats who have indicated their opposition to the deal.

Meg Lees: Phone (08) 8295 8911 (Adelaide) or Canberra (02) 6277 
3991; Fax (08) 8295 8986;  Email:

Lyn Allison: Phone (03) 9416 1880; Fax: (03) 9417 1690

Vicki Bourne: Phone: (02) 9247 3377; Fax: 9247 9681

Andrew Murray: Phone: (08) 9481 1455; Fax: (08) 9481 1679

Natasha Stott Despoja: Phone (08) 8232 7595; Fax: (08) 8232 7601

John Woodley: Phone (07) 3252 9129; Fax: (07) 3252 9851

Andrew Bartlett: Phone (07) 3252 7101; Fax: (07) 3252 8957.

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