Politics

Abbott rules out GST changes in first term; Changes to skilled worker visas on the cards: Midday Roundup

Eloise Keating /

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has ruled out making changes to the GST in his first term, despite continuing discussion about the need to reform the tax from within the ranks of his own party.

Speaking while in the United Arab Emirates, Abbott said no changes will be made to the tax before his government seeks a second term in office, reports Business Spectator.

“I don’t mind people debated the GST and I certainly don’t mind members of parliament discussing the GST,” Abbott said.

“But the GST simply can’t change unless all of the states and territories agree and there is a political consensus in the parliament.”

As well as calling for the GST-free threshold on online overseas purchases to be lowered, members of the Federal Coalition have advocated for a broadening of the GST base to include currently exempt items such as fresh food, healthcare and education expenses.

Changes to skilled worker visas on the cards

The federal government is considering introducing a new temporary entry visa for foreign workers that would allow companies to bring skilled workers to Australia without applying for a 457 skilled worker visa.

Fairfax reports the new visa, proposed by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, would not require employees to pass language or skills requirements and employers would not be required to demonstrate that the position cannot be filled by a local worker.

According to documents seen by Fairfax, the “short-term mobility” visas would allow for multiple entries in Australia for “specialised work which may include intra-company transfers and foreign correspondents”.

Also potentially covered by the visas would be fly-in, fly-out workers and global partners or specialists needs for short period of work.

Shares down on open

Aussie shares opened lower this morning, following losses on Wall Street overnight.

Tristan K’Nell, head of trading at Quay Equities, said volatility in crude oil prices and negative worldwide equity market sentiment are taking a toll on local investors.

“We have seen less selling than yesterday in the beaten commodity stocks, with market turnover into lunch being $1.112 billion,” K’Nell said.

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark was down 32.8 points to 5332 points at 12.09pm AEDT. On Tuesday, the Dow Jones closed 130.01 points lower, dropping 0.74% to 17371.6 points. 

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Eloise Keating

Eloise Keating is the editor of SmartCompany. Previously, Eloise was news editor at Books+Publishing, the trade press for the Australian book industry.

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