Pic source: dss.gov.au
BY Katharine Murphy
The federal government should impose a new national gaming tax and prohibit Australians from gambling with foreign operators through “banking and other tools”, Nationals senator Bridget McKenzie has said.
The Victorian backbench senator, who flagged her plan with the prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, when he was communications minister, said the government should use its review of the tax system to completely overhaul gambling taxes.
“In terms of wagering, the current legal framework doesn’t provide the outcomes we need,” McKenzie told Guardian Australia.
The guts of the proposal would see a uniform tax applied to the gaming industry, with revenue to be distributed across the statesthat currently regulate the industry. Some revenue would be reserved for regional development projects and for harm minimisation programs.
McKenzie said she was concerned that sports betting was the fastest growing market in Australia yet faced minimal taxation.
She has raised her model in a formal submission to the government’s tax review committee, and will pursue the proposal in a speech when federal parliament resumes next week.
Turnbull’s decision to reset the tax debate, and his desire not to rule various proposals in or out, has reignited discussion within government ranks about how best to proceed.
McKenzie’s proposal follows an intervention from Nationals colleague David Gillespie, who earlier this week called for the GST to be raised to 15%.
Under McKenzie’s proposal a federal tax of 0.05% would be levied on gambling turnover. The tax would be collected by licensed betting operators on all transactions relating to Australian events.
She said much of the revenue collected should go back to the states to compensate them for lost revenue.
McKenzie is also proposing that a product levy be applied uniformly across all sports. The revenue it raised would support regional sporting infrastructure and harm minimisation initiatives.
Paying the levy should be a licence condition for gaming operators, she said.
“A condition of an Australian wagering operating licence will be that any licensee has to ensure that their affiliates pay Australia the product levy on betting by all customers on all Australian sports,” she said in her submission to the tax review.
McKenzie argued her national regulatory and tax model would address the exponential increase in online sports betting and recognise that the internet had made state-based regulatory regimes impractical.
A version of McKenzie’s proposal has already been endorsed by the Nationals federal council.