Protests against G.S.T. policy shift by Democrats
   The Greens on 2 June 1999 began distributing an information pack about the inadequacies of the Democrats' GST [Goods and Services Tax].   The pack was being distributed on campuses and sent to thousands of people.
     The Greens continued to liase with unions, environmentalists, student and community representatives about protest action

Date: Wednesday, 2 June 1999 7:01 PM
From: "Oquist, Ben (Sen B. Brown)" <Bob.Brown@aph.gov.au>
"No Democrats' GST" Campaign Continues

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   The following protests were planned:
   Sydney, Thursday June 3, 1.15pm, Senator Vicky Bourne's Office, 70 Phillip St, Sydney city; contact: Nick Harrigan 0414262 170
   Melbourne, Thursday June 3, 1-2pm, Senator Lyn Allison's office, contact: Ferggus Vial (NUS) 0408 108 126
   Canberra, Friday June 4, 1pm, Democrats' National Headquarters, 10 Brisbane Ave, Barton, contact: Indra Esguera 0413 011490
   Sydney, Sunday June 20, to be confirmed, Elisia Yeo: 0409787 911
   Melbourne, Sunday June 20, to be confirmed, Jacob Varghese (NUS): 0411 606808
   Canberra, Monday June 21, 12.30pm, Parliament House, contact: Indra Esguera 0413 011490
   More information: Ben Oquist 02 62773170 or 0419 704095
   The Democrats' GST marks a massive political shift by the Democrats away from their historic concern for social justice and the environment.  It fails the test of improved environmental and social outcomes, set by Leader Meg Lees, and contravenes the Democrats' own policies.
   The GST legislation will come into the Senate on 21 June.  Only two Democrat votes are needed for it to pass by the Government's 30 June deadline.  Until it passes the Senate, where it is opposed by the Greens, the Labor Party and Senator Harradine, the GST will not become law.
   UNFAIR
   Food.  Prepared meals, snack food, confectionery, alcoholic beverages, soft drinks, take-aways and restaurant meals will be taxed.  This includes sandwiches, pies, pizzas, frozen dinners, icecream and the like.  There is no guarantee that fresh food won't be taxed in the future.
   Books. Taxed for the first time.
   Charities and non-profit community groups.   Taxed for the first time.  Commercial activities of conventional 'charities' will be taxed (e.g. shops, mail-order sales, fundraising dinners, fees charged which are more than 50% of the market value for the service).  For non-profit community groups that don't qualify as 'charities', most activities will be taxed, e.g. membership fees, publications, fundraising, sponsorship, course fees (except first aid and lifesaving) and fees for services.
   The arts.  Taxed.  A committee to investigate the impact!
   Education. Books, stationery and research-related expenses taxed.  Higher cost of living for students.  Private schools benefit over public schools.
   Tax.  No action to stop tax avoidance by the wealthy.  The well-off remain the biggest beneficiaries from the income tax changes.  A breadwinner on $20,000 a year will get tax cuts worth $540 a year; a breadwinner on $60 000 gets $3222 a year.  State taxes stay, budget surplus reduced to pay for some food being GST-free.  Most State taxes stay until 2005.  The reduced budget surplus will increase pressure to cut services for the less well off.
   ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTER
   Environmental economist Dr Clive Hamilton calculates that the Democrats' GST will cause a 'sharp increase in urban air pollution' and a 5% increase in greenhouse gas emissions from the commercial transport sector.  
   There is an extra $3223 million per annum in massive new tax cuts and incentives for fossil fuel consumption (diesel and petrol).  This is only 15% less than promised in the Government's GST.  
   All trucks over 20 tonnes and rural-based trucks over 4.5 tonnes get a reduction of 23c per litre in diesel prices.
   All business vehicles get a 10% reduction (7c per litre) in petrol and diesel prices.  70% of the benefit will go to the mining industry.
   Woodchips will be $1 per tonne cheaper to transport (about $30 per load of logs).
   The new fuel tax cuts are additional to existing diesel fuel rebates of over $2 billion per annum, which will be preserved by the Democrats' GST.
   Around $230 million per annum is allocated for environmental programs to partially redress pollution caused by the massive fuel price cuts.  This is 14 times less than the pollution incentives!
   Transport -- $20 million p.a. to convert vehicles to gas; $15 million p.a. to try to save the oil recycling industry which was likely to be wiped out; $10 million p.a. to reduce diesel pollution; higher standards for fuel pollution brought forward; up to $18 million p.a. in tax cuts for alternative fuels (e.g. gas)
   Renewable energy .  Up to $7 million per annum for "green" power investment; up to $9 million per annum for household solar energy; $66 million p.a. for renewable power in remote areas.
   Greenhouse Gases.  $100 million per annum for four years, for abatement and 'sinks' (i.e. plantations and farm forestry -- 'not a lasting solution', says Greenpeace), GST charged on public transport, improved energy efficiency, Green Power, renewable energy equipment, environment group subscriptions and fundraising.
   NB. The Democrats say the diesel fuel rebate will finish in 2002 and be replaced by an Energy Credit Scheme.
   National Party Leader John Anderson says the rebate will be absorbed into the new system - "It is a change by name, not by nature, it doesn't disappear" (AAP, 29 May).
   BROKEN DEMOCRAT POLICIES
   The Democrats' environmental policies include -- ensuring the tax system recognises environmental costs and encourages better environmental outcomes; introducing an 'abuser pays' philosophy to reduce the release of greenhouse gases, to encourage all Australian companies to meet world's best practice; establish and enforce uniform and stricter polluter pays legislation on a national basis.
   Their tax policies include -- A review of marginal tax rates and thresholds to significantly reduce the burden on low and middle income earners, while maintaining higher marginal tax rates for high income earners.  Paying for these resultant income tax cuts through closing tax loop-holes used by the rich rather than by increasing sales taxes which hurt the poor
   GREEN TAX REFORM
   The Greens oppose the GST and have excellent alternatives for tax reform based on eliminating tax avoidance loopholes and introducing European-style taxes on waste and pollution (eco taxes).  For example- A carbon tax to reduce greenhouse gas pollution, with the proceeds used to abolish anti-employment payroll taxes.
   Abolition of the existing diesel fuel rebate for the mining industry (and don't add any more!); use the proceeds to set up a Sun Fund, which would subsidise energy efficiency, improve public transport and bicycle facilities, and boost the renewable energy industry.
   More information - Taxing Pollution and Waste. Louise Crossley, June 1998, Sun-Power Australia, Action Plan for Greenhouse, Energy and Jobs.  Senator Bob Brown, November 1998 < br />   COMING NEXT
   The Democrats' GST deal signals their willingness to compromise on other government legislation, while they hold the balance of power during the next two years.  In the next few months, this will include the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Bill, which hands power over the environment back to the states; and round two of the dismantling of Australia's industrial relations system.
   WHAT YOU CAN DO
   Lobby the Democrat senators in Queensland, NSW, Victoria, SA and WA to oppose the GST and the massive cuts in diesel and petrol taxes.  Ring radio talkback, write to newspapers and newsletters.  Ring the Greens' GST hotline on 1800 017 011 to find out about protests planned between now and the end of June (make a banner!) . Get more information about green tax reform.  Organise a protest in your locality
   MORE INFORMATION
   Office of Senator Bob Brown Australian Greens GPO Box 404 , HOBART, TAS, 7004, Ph. 03 6234 1633, Fax. 03 6234 1577, E-mail: Senator.Brown@aph.gov.au
   Web page. www.tassie.net.au/bobbrown
   Australian Greens, GPO Box 1108, CANBERRA ACT 2601, Hotline -- 1800 017 011
   Ben Oquist, Greens Senator Bob Brown, Parliament House, Canberra, ACT, 2600, Australia, Tel: +2 6277 3170,  Fax: +2 6277 3185, mobile: 0419704095
   Hosted on the Alternative News Network Maillist Server
   Australian Greens WWW page is at URL: http://www.altnews.com.au/Greens/
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