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October 20, 2021

GST hike on mobile-home pensioners ‘devastating’

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Hundreds of pensioners live in mobile-home parks like this one. Photo Colonial Tweed Holiday and Home Park.
Hundreds of pensioners live in mobile-home parks like this one. Photo Colonial Tweed Holiday and Home Park.

Luis Feliu

Thousands of north coast pensioners living in mobile-home parks face a 10 per cent hike on their rents under a federal government plan which many have only just found out about.

A draft ruling two weeks ago by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) on the Goods and Services Tax (GST) paid by park owners means they now face having to pay a 10 per cent GST on their rents.

Ken Cummins, president of the Tweed Heads/Tweed Coast branch of the Affiliated Residential Parks Residents Association (ARPRA), says the move is outrageous and will impact severely on fixed-income pensioners and retirees living in mobile-home parks in the region.

Richmond MP Justine Elliot, who has taken up their fight this week in Parliament, has slammed the plan as ‘devastating for thousands of locals who simply cannot afford a 10 per cent increase in their rents’.

Mr Cummins says many pensioners own their own mobile homes but will be forced to pay the GST on the leases on which they sit.

‘In many cases this will amount to around $30 a fortnight increase for many, which they just can’t afford. Most of them are just absolutely shocked by it,’ he said.

In some Tweed mobile-home parks, the rent varies from around $135 to $250 a week and many pensioners receive around $360 a week. The GST in these cases would add between $27 and $50 a week to their rent.

‘It’s incredible that with all these ministers rorting their allowances and big tax breaks for the rich under the coalition government, that pensioners are being slugged this,’ Mr Cummins said.

‘There are around 2,000 old-age pensioners in the parks around the Tweed and 95 per cent of them are already living on the bones of their bums,’ he told Echonetdaily.

‘They didn’t know anything about it till we let them know. The government tried to sneak this in under the radar and the plan is to backdate the increase till October 30, which is also outrageous.

‘We’ll leave no stone unturned in our bid to have this reversed. A lot of these pensioners finding out about it say they’re disgusted by the plan,’ Mr Cummins said.

ARPRA has launched a campaign to prevent the plan becoming law, and a petition it has circulated in the Tweed has already attracted more than 2,000 signatures and will be presented to federal parliament by Mrs Elliot.

The MP has called on the Abbott government to rule out the plan to overturn a decision by the Howard government in 2000 to exempt mobile-home residents from the 10 per cent GST.

‘This is an attack on the nation’s most vulnerable, particularly pensioners who are already struggling with cost of living pressures and can’t afford this rent hike,’ Mrs Elliot said.

She said that on July 1, 2000, when the GST was introduced, moveable-home estates (mobile home parks) were deemed residential premises and therefore exempt from GST.

‘However, on 30 October 2013 the Australian Taxation Office released a plan stating that these moveable-home estates would no longer be considered residential premises and therefore not exempt from GST.’

Assistant shadow treasurer, Dr Andrew Leigh, agrees with her, saying the draft ruling, now out for consultation till the end of this month, will mean park owners are slugged double the GST paid on leased sites.

‘Labor is concerned the ATO ruling would not just lead to higher costs for park owners but that those costs will be passed on to low-income Australians who permanently live in demountable or mobile homes,’ Dr Leigh said.

‘Most people living permanently in mobile homes either as a lifestyle choice or as a last resort live in very basic conditions with minimal facilities and few amenities compared to conventional forms of housing. Many are pensioners and families doing it tough,’ he said.

The ruling can be seen at: http://law.ato.gov.au/atolaw/view.htm?docid=%22DGS%2FGSTR2013D2%2FNAT%2FATO%2F00001%22.


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  1. This story highlights precisely that our current government is so far removed from the democratic fair play that we have, as a nation, previously been blessed with, that we are left nothing short of dumbfounded and outraged.

    I don’t believe that even those who voted for our current PM could have foreseen such an abundance of abhorrent policies being conceived or enacted in such a short period of time.

    A one-time monk, perhaps, but our PM apparently has not modelled himself on the compassionate and goodly friar who kept company with Robin Hood, that infamous social equaliser renowned for robbing from the rich to give to the poor. Shameful!

    • I am surprised you think people who voted for Tony Abbott didn’t know what they would get. Many people voted with malice and hatred against the Labor Party and out of selfish self-interest. Stop the Boats – Australia is Full. No Carbon Tax – I don’t want to pay a bit extra for my Polluting Energy Use and give my children a safer future. It is ironic that many of the misers and racists who voted for these policies were older Australians. I deal with many Old Age Pensioners in my line of work and many of them are basically nice people with dinosaur mentalities. Hatred of Muslims and dis-belief in Global Warming are common amongst them.
      I knew exactly what the Libs and Nats would bring to Australia and I think many other people did as well. Yet the media fueled hatred of progressive Green policies (and the inept disunity of Labor) weighed more on peoples’ votes than the desire for protection of the environment and social equity. Yet Labor didn’t help itself by sucking up to big business a lot of the time (though the Libs and Nats are controlled fully by big business).

      Times will change so don’t despair. We must do our best through these dark ages……

  2. Many of present day pensioners contributed by hard and poorly paid work, to the first-world culture Australians enjoy today.
    The GST (that we’d never have) was sneaked in partly because of certain areas which were declared exempt. This included unprocessed food and homes.

    Now the poorest of Australia’s pensioners are to attract GST on their caravan homes! I have an idea – why don’t pollies try living on the age pension for two weeks?

    Here are some suggestions for raising extra funds: Do a real search for rorts in high places, get refunds and fine twice the amount. Increase the mining tax. And why not waive parliamentary salary increases for a year? That’ll all help fatten Australia’s coffers!

  3. With Abbott’s silver tail background she shouldn’t really be surprised at this move and I think this is the tip of the iceberg. There will be some more nasty surprises to come I believe.
    Mobile-home owners have a right to feel devastated about this move as even John Howard declined to add this to GST levies in the year 2000 and many would have made a decision to purchase a mobile home at that time.
    However, in retrospect, I wonder how many of them voted for The Coalition in the general election back in September? Did they really think the leopard could change its spots?

  4. The GST is already an impost on low income people. Consider how much annual taxation a pensioner paid prior to the introduction of the GST and compare that with what they are paying now. If the average working person’s tax was increased by a similar percentage there would be a bloody revolution.

  5. I think there is a very good chance that in this term Abbott will break another pre-election promise and increase the GST to 15%. That would be bad for the battlers but would probably solve his liquidity problem and pay for his Paid Parental Leave (PPL) scheme too!

  6. I’d like to say “I told you so” but this is too serious. It is outrageous that this government robs the poor to help the rich. Our park dwellers pay enough as it is for very few amenities.

  7. This new ruling from the ATO is the result of a review commenced in DECEMBER 2012. Therefore this is a LABOR Initiative.. stop slamming the Libs for it!

    I am one of those residents that will be impacted by this and I am NOT happy. There are over 10,000 of us living in these moveable home estates and this will represent a big chunk of our pension money.


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