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Lobbying Australian Government to Amend GST Act for Persons with Disabilities

  • Published: 2011-03-22 (Revised/Updated 2015-03-01) : Author: Errine Adaptive Clothing : Contact: -
  • Synopsis: Pair team up to lobby Australian Government to amend outdated GST Act for people with disabilities.

Mid 2010, Jane Thomasson, Director of Tasmanian based Errine Adaptive Clothing applied to the Australian Tax Office (ATO) to seek a private ruling to have disability clothing exempt from GST, however, as 'disability clothing' does not exist under Schedule 3 of the Act, the ATO were unable to approve the ruling. The ATO suggested the specialist clothing needed to be taken to parliament to be added to Schedule 3 to obtain exemption, which is what Jane Thomasson is now seeking to do.

Jane met with Mr Andrew Wilkie MP, Independent for Denison, Tasmania, in October 2010, who supported the notion that specialist disability clothing meets the criteria to be GST exempt, and subsequently Mr Wilkie wrote to The Hon Wayne Swan MP Federal Treasurer, and The Hon Jenny Macklin MP Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, to pursue the issue, to date there has been no response from the Federal Government.

EAC has now commenced a petition to seek support from Australian citizens to get this issue to parliament, and is asking people to support the cause by downloading and signing the petition.

Stewart MacLennan, NSW based (currently traveling in Europe), worked as journalist and filmmaker with the ABC and National Geographic before co-founding the digital animation and visual effect Company Garner MacLennan Design (GMD) Pty Ltd. In 2000, as a person new to having a disability (MS), Stewart sold GMD and became an active advocate for and about disability issues, and in 2010 submitted a recommendation that 'people with disabilities be more broadly exempted from the burden of GST' to the Productivity Commission.

As Stewart points out in his submission,

'the Federal Government enacted the Disability Discrimination Act in 1992 to "promote levels of opportunity and access for people with disabilities equal to those of people without disabilities', and 'further, the Act made disability discrimination unlawful'. 'Due to the outmoded and inequitable application of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) ... people with disabilities still face considerable extra cost barriers in fully participating in society'.

Stewart's submission highlights the complexities, paperwork, red tape, and frustration people with a disability and their carers go through to seek GST exemption on products, and the incongruities and contradictions in the granting of GST exemption. As Stewart's submission shows, the processes involved are 'irrational and extremely difficult for people other than lawyers or taxation accountants to grasp' , so how does this meet the obligations under the Disability Discrimination Act

Jane and Stewart have now teamed up and the pair plan to set up an organization under the Auspice of one of Australia's major disability support organizations, and a Facebook page for supporters. The United Kingdom has a tax system that basically covers the person and not the product, with the individual filling in a simple form when purchasing from a supplier and obtaining GST exemption for the purchase.

Jane and Stewart want a similar system in place in Australia to ease the financial burden and red tape for Australians with a disability, and their carers.

The purpose of establishing such an organization is to lobby the Australian Government to make changes to the current outdated system.

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