Finance

Hockey rules out lifting GST; Police investigate poisoned fruit at Rinehart mine: Midday Roundup

Dan Wood /

Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey has ruled out lifting the goods and services tax, saying Australians can’t afford any increase, according to Sky News.

The comments come after the OECD this week released a report recommending the GST be lifted to between 15% and 18%.

Hockey told Channel 7 any increase in the GST would have to be accompanied by tax cuts to compensate low- and middle-income Australians and said the country has not “got the financial capacity to do that at the moment”.

“Also, I don’t think it is the right time at all to increase prices for Australians. I think they’ve got enough pressure on family budgets as it stands,” he added.

Hockey said the OECD was “not looking at the full picture”.

“If you increase the GST, you need to compensate middle and low-income Australians with significant tax cuts,” said Hockey.

He said any increase to the GST would be an issue to take to an election.

Police investigate poisoned fruit at Rinehart mine

Police have been called in to investigate poisoned fruit found in the dining hall of Gina Rinehart’s Roy Hill mine in the Pilbara, Western Australia.

The company said on December 15, a contractor working at the site noticed an “unusual discolouration” inside a piece of fruit from the mine site’s dining hall, according to Fairfax Media. Lab testing of the fruit later confirmed the presence of a “dangerous chemical”.

Roy Hill said the incident appears to be isolated, with no other reports of contamination of other food at the site.

“Our first and foremost priority is the safety and well-being of our people. We have tightened our food security as a means of ensuring no further incidents occur; and are working closely with the police in their investigation,” said Roy Hill chief executive Barry Fitzgerald.

Shares up on open

Aussies shares have traded higher this morning, reversing a trend of consecutive sluggish morning sessions this week.

Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets, said the gains were influenced by a strong recovery on US markets overnight.

“In spite of a frenzied pre-mortem, a benign statement from the US Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee and steadying commodity markets drove investors back into share markets overnight,” McCarthy said.

“A calmer, stronger ruble helped offset European growth fears, highlighted in the overnight session by further declines in inflation. European bourses largely held onto recent gains and US markets reverses previous losses emphatically.”

The S&P/ASX 200 benchmark was up 80.1 points to 5242 points at 11.53am AEDT. On Wednesday, the Dow Jones closed 288 points higher, up 1.69% to 17356.9 points.

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