The Guardian August 2, 2000


GST overcharging

by Andrew Jackson

The GST was never going to be the "fair and simple" tax John Howard 
promised.

In a mass of confusion and often blatant profiteering, the Australian 
Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is already sending out 1000 
"please explain" letters to businesses across Australia.

Headlining the mess was Franklins, who overcharged on 17 items including 
weetbix, orange juice and water in their 280 stores.

Another company under investigation is QML, which operates the Logan 
motorway south of Brisbane.

In an initial notice to the public, QML stated, "the modifications to the 
price will reflect the introduction of the Commonwealth Government's 10 per 
cent Goods and Services Tax and minor rounding for change."

However, the company increased some tolls by up to 20 per cent, and have 
since acknowledged that the overcharging was to cover capital works and 
operating costs.

BANKS: The increased fees and interest rate charges of "The Big Four" banks 
will now leave the public an extra $250,000,000 out of pocket.

The timing of NAB's claim that it needed to raise an extra $60,000,000 from 
customers had particularly poignant timing, coming in the same week it 
forecast a record yearly profit of $3 billion.

INFLATION: Australia's inflation rate tripled over the last three months, 
which means another increase in interest rates is coming up.

An expected 0.5 per cent rise in the cost of a home loan would further 
erode inadequate tax cuts.

It would be another nail in the coffin for those workers who received no 
tax cuts: people on subsistence wages, pensioners and the unemployed.

Note, this bad inflation news comes for the period BEFORE the introduction 
of the GST (which will see the inflation rate double again), and is blamed 
on businesses hiking up the prices of food, clothing, household equipment, 
insurance and petrol in preparation for July 1.

Suddenly those "we'll pay the GST for you" signs aren't as magnanimous as 
they seem.

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