What were some of the ‘breaches’ of public consultation prior to GST passage?
In July 2019, the public consultation for the first phase of GST, the Interim Goods Tax (IGT), began with an announcement that the session was “not a consultation; the tax would be going into effect.”
Consultations conducted in early 2021 then withheld critical information needed for business planning, including the actual GST rate, registration requirements, and zero-rated and exempt supplies. Notably, they also withheld culturally alarming aspects of unlimited inspection powers, countless risks of criminal and civil penalties, months-long refund periods, and an open-ended framework subject to increases and changes ‘by regulation’ without public recourse or consultation.
Second, with respect to allowing time for public discourse following input, the current Premier asserted at a press conference that the bill would proceed to second and third readings 7 days after the last Select Committee hearing and two weeks before its report was tabled. This, after campaigning to prevent GST from ever being passed into law.
Third, the final bill was not shared with the public until the day after its passage, and only by Gazette.
Fourth, the final bill did not reflect feedback from the public consultations, including the hearings held by the Select Committee of the House of Assembly.