Malcolm Turnbull has confirmed his government is considering extending the GST to fresh food, despite admitting there were good grounds for the current exemption.
Labor Member for Chifley Ed Husic, whose electorate already has one of the nation’s highest levels of diabetes, asked Mr Turnbull to rule out slugging consumers with a fresh food GST.
Mr Turnbull conceded the point, but made clear his passion for the GST comes ahead of sensible health policy.
The honourable member obviously believes the GST should not be extended to fresh food, and that is a powerful point and he should make that point. But the honourable member should understand that the Government is going to consider all of the options which are being raised, right across the board.
— Malcolm Turnbull, Question Time, 9 November 2015.
Treasury figures show extending the existing GST to fresh food would hit families for another $6.3 billion a year, an extraordinary impost that, as always with the GST, would fall hardest on those with the least to spare.
If, as Mr Turnbull is indicating, the GST is raised to 15 per cent, then that hit climbs to $9.45 billion a year, and that’s on top of the 50 per cent increase to the existing GST on other grocery items.
The global burden of disease study already rates our poor diet as the biggest contributor to disease and illness in Australia, followed by obesity.
No serious health expert believes the answer to this crisis includes the Turnbull Government whacking a 10 per cent or 15 per cent tax on fruit, vegetables, milk, bread, meat and seafood tipping the balance more towards junk food and making it more expensive for their population to have a healthier diet.