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Treasurer Scott Morrison Photo: John McCutcheon / Sunshine Coast Daily

Quarantine health from GST: ANMF

Nurses have called on the government to rule out any move that would result in the GST being extended to include basic health services.

In a statement, ANMF federal secretary Lee Thomas said reports that the Coalition was considering such moves along with raising the GST rate from 10 to 15 per cent would probably result in many of Australia’s most vulnerable being hit hardest.

With fresh debate regarding tax reform having begun ahead of talks between the federal and state governments, Treasurer Scott Morrison is yet to officially rule out any new measures. The Treasurer this week said all options are on the table during what he labelled a “discovery phase”.

Costing of a New Zealand-style model, carried out by the Parliamentary Budget Office – including a broadening of the GST to more goods and services – found that such moves could generate an extra $65.6 billion, meaning a total take of more than $130 billion in 2017–18.

Morrison stressed that the modelling was not government policy.

Tax Institute president Stephen Healey said the GST rate and exemptions should be reviewed to determine their “ongoing appropriateness”.

The public discussions have elicited mixed reactions from state premiers. Some have opposed the suggested hike outright and others, such as SA Premier Jay Weatherill, have demanded that compensation for low-income earners be built into any restructuring of taxes.

In calling for health services to remain GST exempt, the ANMF's Thomas said too many “Australians already suffer some of the highest out-of-pocket expenses for healthcare in the world”.

“Any increase in the current rate of GST to cover health would see people all across the community forking out even more for their basic, everyday healthcare. The ANMF is now calling on Mr Turnbull to rule out yet another cost-shifting onto health consumers with any new GST.

“What Australia needs is a stronger, sustainable universal system of healthcare under Medicare, which can deliver efficiency savings to the government whilst providing the proper funding to health and aged care to allow nurses and midwives to deliver quality care to their patients.”

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