1 June 2018
Transcript - #2018101, 2018

Interview with Tom Elliott, 3AW

Subjects: Amazon; delivering a fairer playing field for Australian businesses.

TOM ELLIOTT:

Mr Morrison, good afternoon.

TREASURER:

G'Day Tom.

ELLIOTT:

Were you surprised that Amazon is going to block Australian shoppers from its US website in four weeks?

TREASURER:

Well I think it's a bit of an overreaction frankly Tom. All we are simply doing here is saying that if Amazon wants to sell goods into Australia it should be subject to GST like any Australian company is. Why should you be able to buy something GST-free from Amazon in the States but have to pay 10 per cent on something you buy from an Australian online store.

ELLIOTT:

Yeah I sort of get that, but for example, there is a shop in America that sells a peculiar Hawaiian shirt that I like. You cannot buy it in Australia. They are powered by Amazon so I won't be able to shop there.

TREASURER:

Buy it on Ebay then. Because Ebay aren't shutting it down. This is a bit of a sook from Amazon to be honest Tom.

ELLIOTT:

But it's a sook from me. I won't be able to go to this shop. There is no equivalent in Australia.

TREASURER:

So multinationals shouldn't be subject to GST? I mean how many times to people ring up your program and say 'multinationals should pay their fair share of tax''?

ELLIOTT:

Well, some people do, but I think this …

TREASURER:

Often I reckon mate.

ELLIOTT:

… I don't think people thought the Amazon.com's of the world would pull out. There must be something about out GST they are finding difficult?

TREASURER:

No there is nothing. They face differential tax rates even within the United States and they can cope with it. They have different rates in the United Kingdom, Canada and Europe. But we are not going to be bullied by Amazon into saying the Australian Government can't apply GST on things Amazon wants to sell into Australia. I mean, that's just bullying. We would be a pretty weak Government if we rolled over to that.

ELLIOTT:

So do you think they are just trying it on … they'll do this for a while and then come up with a solution?

TREASURER:

I think they are treating their customers pretty poorly and my advice to Australian consumers is go to one of the Australian stores; there are other international sites that you can go to that aren't taking their bat and ball and going home. We know what we think of people who do that in this country. It is a pretty ordinary exercise, I mean this is the second biggest company in the world, they spend $30 billion a year on research and technology and they say they can't process a 10 per cent GST payment, give me a break. We had the Productivity Commission look at the best way to implement this and they confirmed this was the most feasible way to do it. Look I met with Amazon and I hear are the Labor Party saying I refused to meet with them. I went all the way to Seattle to meet with them. I met with Ebay and they are keeping it in place. Why the Labor Party is siding the richest man in the world and the second biggest multinational in the world and they say they want to be tough on big companies, well Amazon not included it would seem.

ELLIOTT:

Have you ever bought anything from Amazon yourself?

TREASURER:

Yeah I have.

ELLIOTT:

You have?

TREASURER:

Yeah plenty of times.

ELLIOTT:

Do you remember what you bought?

TREASURER:

Yeah a book. I buy plenty of books and they came to me and said 'oh it's different, we shouldn't have to pay GST because we are like the shopping centre and you can go to many shops in a shopping centre and you don't charge Westfield the GST', and I said 'no, it's not like that at all, because when I go into Westfield shopping centre and I buy shoes or things for the kids, there is a register there at the store and I pay for it and I pay my 10 per cent GST . When I go online to Amazon I go to Amazon and pay them and I can pay GST to them right there, right then'. I think this is a try on from Amazon and we won't be bullied by it.

ELLIOTT:

Okay so you reckon in a few months' time Amazon will work out a way of charging GST and will reopen its dot com website to Australian shoppers?

TREASURER:

I don't know what they will do Tom, but what I do know is that the Government isn't going to be intimidated by it.

TOM ELLIOTT:

Okay, thank you Treasurer.