Union group joins push for GST on overseas goods under $1000

Treasurer Joe Hockey is under sustained pressure to change his stance on charging GST on more goods bought online from overseas.

The shop workers’ union has joined retailers and industry groups in a push to lower the threshold and apply GST on more imports. Currently goods worth $1000 or more are slugged, and the drive is to apply GST to goods worth $20 or more.

Figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in October showed sales of imported goods worth less than $1000 topped $7 billion in 2012-13 – about 10% higher than the $6.2 billion expected.

National secretary-treasurer of the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association Joe de Bruyn told SmartCompany his union would campaign Hockey directly.

“At the end of the day this is an issue that affects retailers, large and small,” he says. “If the retailers find themselves discriminated against, then it costs jobs, so it’s very much a union issue.”

The SDA boasts 230,000 members. De Bruyn said he did not agree with the GST as it put the burden of government revenue-raising on low-income earners who paid more tax relative to their earnings, but it should be applied fairly.

Retailers have previously led the push to review the GST threshold, which has gained little traction.

Prior to the election Prime Minister Tony Abbott said “full-stop, end of story” he would not change the GST in government.

Prior to the election former treasurer Wayne Swan put the question before a Treasury working group, which has yet to report its conclusions to the new Treasurer.


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