The Liberal Government is proposing to add a 10 per cent Goods and Services Tax (GST) to fresh produce, which should reap $6 billion in revenue, according to calculations made by Federal Liberal National Party MP, Dan Tehan.
In an interview with the NewsMail published on January 8, 2015, Mr Tehan claimed the GST does not influence the public’s decision to eat healthy foods.
“You ensure that the economy, whether it be fresh fruit when it comes to fast food, that you have the GST as broadly applied as possible, and then what we have to do, as we do now, is encourage everyone to live as healthily as possible, and those on fixed incomes, you would compensate.
“We must finish reforming our tax system by broadening the GST,” said Mr Tehan.
A health group interviewed by the SMH on January 14, 2015, cited applying the GST to fresh food would be tantamount to an attack on poor families, who spend much of their food budget on foods currently exempt from GST.
Queensland Country Life has similarly echoed their concerns, reporting various health groups have rejected the call on the basis that it will make Australia sick.
Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) Chief Executive, Mr Michael Moore argues implementing GST on fresh produce is irresponsible, and will make healthy food more expensive, subsequently broadening the gap between healthy and fast-food, and ultimately paving the way to an unhealthy future.
Executive Manager of the Obesity Policy Coalition, Ms Jane Martin, has further weighed into the debate, condemning the initiative as a “backward step,” undermining previous public health efforts to inspire healthy eating.
The GST was first introduced by the Howard Government in the year 2000, when it was determined to exempt fresh fruit and veggies.
Ironically since then, inflation in fresh produce has proven minimal in comparison to processed foods, which begs the obvious question as to why the Government now suddenly feels compelled to introduce this tax?
Growers and farmers have also lent their collective voice to the debate, labelling it a “huge mistake”, gravely concerned this could mean the end to their industry.
Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers Chairman and Perfection Fresh Bundaberg Manager, Mr Allan Moloney, is adamant that both growers and consumers will miss out should the GST is introduced. He explains his perspective in the News Mail.
“That’s putting our price up, which is something we definitely don’t want to impact consumers with,” Mr Mahoney said.
“I think adding the GST is going to put it (fresh fruit and vegetables) there with other choices which could have further impacts on our sales.
“Any shift in volume would hurt our grower base for sure,” said Mr Mahoney.
What are your thoughts on the introduction of a GST on fresh produce? Will it negatively impact ordinary Aussies, including the less fortunate, or is it a fair measure?
Please share your thoughts in the comment box below.