The GST trap

30 Oct 2014

Opposing changes to the GST is unlikely to benefit Labor’s election prospects

Barely a year into the new government, the GST is finally, officially, back on the table, with prime minister Tony Abbott calling for a “mature debate” rather than the usual political “screaming match” about a possible broadening or raising of the tax.

Abbott the prime minister would not much like Abbott the opposition leader 2009–13, for whom screaming and opposing was the default position. Fiddling with the GST, whether or not it is taken to another election first, would also represent a broken election promise. But we’ve lost count of those.

It is one of the little secrets of Australian politics that trashing campaign commitments is not, from the voters’ point of view, a hanging offence. Most expect it; they know politicians are loose with the truth. It’s only the political class that seems hung up about it. To paraphrase John Howard a decade ago: the question is not who you trust to tell the truth, but who you trust to run the country…

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