GST changes will force more Bendigo households into poverty

The Turnbull Government’s moves to lift the GST to 15 per cent and extend the tax to health, education and fresh food would be a disastrous blow to Bendigo‘s health outcomes and household budgets, said Federal Member for Bendigo, Lisa Chesters MP.

“This is yet another unfair policy proposal from this government and once again it will be the lowest income earners who are hardest hit. 

“Roughly 30 per cent of households in Bendigo survive on just $600 per week. When you take into account the cost of basics such as rent, food and transport it doesn't leave much left over. If Turnbull goes ahead with these changes, families in Bendigo will be among the hardest hit in the whole country,” said Ms Chesters.

“We already have a large number of people living under the poverty line in our region. Poverty is not always obvious. Hidden poverty, the poverty endured but not seen, is growing.

“I meet people in Bendigo every day who tell me that despite all their hard work, they cannot support a family on their wages. They haven't been on holiday for years, or they worry about taking their kids to a birthday party because they can't afford it. This is before a massive increase in the GST.

“I hear from many constituents - pensioners, families with young children - who already struggle to put fresh food on the table because of the increasing cost of fruit and vegetables. We know the lowest income earners spend the greatest proportion of their household budget on food so of course increasing the GST and putting it on fresh food will impact them more strongly. 

“Adding GST would also make processed and junk food more appealing, worsening health outcomes and increasing their health costs. 

“It’s so typical of this government’s policies to consider a blanket tax which will have very little impact on high income earners while making the lives of the lowest paid Australians even harder.

“How fair has our society become if working people cannot afford to pay their bills?

“Increasing the minimum wage and creating more full-time secure jobs would certainly help low paid workers, but more also needs to be done to lower the cost of living. Increasing the GST is the opposite of what is needed to stop local families being forced into poverty.”