By Aimee Chanthadavong

There have been numerous counter arguments behind why the Federal Government should and should not lower the GST-threshold.

But at Tuesday’s Australian National Retailers Association lunch in Sydney, both Coles’ Ian McLeod and Woolworth’s Tjeerd Jegen made clear that they do not believe lowering the GST threshold is the key to improving retail competitiveness.

McLeod told Australia needs be a “free market” and that he was against “restrictions, barriers or tariffs.”

“It lets competition prevail, it stimulates productivity, it stimulates efficiency and it stimulates lower prices ultimately keeps the consumer pleased. I think that needs to be the focus in this,” he said.

“Nobody is arguing that there should be a premium pay for products in Australia. We should make the prices Australian pay competitive as they can possibly be and you can only allow that by letting competition to prevail.”

Likewise, Tjeerd agree to the concept of a free market.

“We don’t support and we share a different view on the threshold reduction. We should compete with a compelling offer and at a time where customers are really doing it tougher, retailers shouldn’t ask for higher tax services. I think we should keep the threshold where it is,” he said.

This contradicted Bunnings Group managing director John Gillam who took the stage earlier during the lunch calling for the GST loophole to fixed and for the threshold to be lowered down to $20.

“This high GST threshold of overseas purchases is costing Australian jobs – that is a fact. It’s also depriving governments of much needed revenue – that is a fact. If the GST loophole had already been addressed then NSW government would have over $300 billion and more in GST revenue. And that’s the scale of the loophole and that’s why GST on offshore purchases must be lowered to $20, which is a similar threshold to other nations in the western world,” he said.

“And the thought to collect this would cost too much revenue is frankly rubbish. It is collected easily all around the world and it’s what Australia needs to do likewise.”