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NSW budget calls for lower GST threshold on imports

Parliament axes Lotus Notes, finds cash for mobile tech for case workers and IM for emergency services

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The Australian State of New South Wales' annual Budget has called for the threshold at which the nation's ten per cent goods and services tax (GST) is applied to imported goods to be lowered.

The GST is collected by Australia's federal government, but handed back to the States. While the tax applies to most goods and services, it is not collected on imported goods valued at under $AUD1000. Most goods bought online fall beneath that threshold handily, so aren't taxed as imports even though they would be taxed if sold onshore.

Doing Something About This has been debated for years, with one probe concluding it would cost many times more to check every incoming parcel than would be collected in GST as a result of the checking effort. But that conclusion isn't deterring New South Wales (NSW) from again asking for GST reform.

Budget Paper No. 2, at Box 7.2, makes the case as follows:

“The $1,000 low value threshold is much higher than comparable countries such as Canada. This high threshold produces an unfair advantage to overseas retailers compared to Australian retailers and reduces GST revenue available to the states. The increasing popularity of online purchases from international retailers makes this a pressing issue ...

… The NSW Government agrees that a reduced low value import threshold would help maintain the GST revenue base and provide greater competitive neutrality between overseas and domestic retailers.”

NSW is Australia's largest state measured by population and economic activity, so there's some weight to the call for GST reform.

Australia's Council on Federal Financial Relations has already agreed to consider the GST threshold again and the budget papers say “New South Wales has taken an active role in considering how this can be administered in the most efficient and cost-effective way.”

That's not a signal change is imminent, but the prominent discussion of the GST threshold in the budget papers certainly seems a sign it is under very active consideration.

Other technology-related items in the budget include:

  • A promise of $AUD100m to equip case workers from the Department of Community Services with mobile technology to improve their ability to protect at-risk children
  • $1.8 million to replace the Lotus Notes/Domino infrastructure in NSW Parliament
  • $22 million capital expenditure to continue developing the ePlanning system in support of a streamlined and more efficient planning system
  • $42 million over four years to commence the Justice Core Information and Communications Technology program
  • $40 million over four years to commence the Justice Audio Visual Link consolidation project to enable court hearings to be undertaken with witnesses in locations across the State
  • $9.2 million over two years to commence the Justice Online project, which will lead to improved delivery of justice services by using online solutions
  • $45 million over four years for the Technology Asset Replacement Program, which maintains and replaces critical NSW Police Force information systems supporting frontline service delivery
  • $972,000 over two years to implement an Interagency Electronic Messaging System, which will allow peer-to-peer electronic communication between the Office of the NSW State Emergency Service and other public safety organisations.
  • $20 million to upgrade ICT systems, including enabling wireless and mobile connectivity for clinical systems to improve the quality and safety of care delivered
  • $10 million for the second stage of the HealtheNet project to expand the information within HealtheNet and to design and begin development of a collaborative two way integrated care portal for doctors, patients and other health service providers
  • $5.0 million to establish information systems to support NSW Health services and their clinicians to better understand their cost-drivers, clinical and operational performance and the effectiveness of improvement strategies.

There's plenty more IT spending, but not much of it larger than those mentioned above, listed in the complete budget papers. ®

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