Peter Malinauskas backflips on GP payroll tax

Peter Malinauskas backflips on GP payroll tax

Posted on: 23 May 2024

The Liberal Opposition has forced the Labor Government to backflip as Peter Malinauskas finally buckled to pressure from the Opposition and peak health bodies and are stepping away from its planned tax grab on GPs.

The Opposition has been calling on the Malinauskas Labor Government to step up and ensure visits to the GP would remain affordable for more than 12 months.

Yesterday the State Government announced that they will exempt wages earned by GPs for bulk-billed services provided to patients, even though they had insisted for months that there had been no changes to South Australia’s tax system and that a reprieve wasn’t necessary.

The GP tax grab emerged after a court ruling interstate indicated that payments to contractor GPs were liable for payroll tax. This came despite a historic view in the industry that this wasn’t the case.

Leader of the Opposition, David Speirs, cautiously welcomed the backflip.

“South Australia’s health system is in crisis and despite Peter Malinauskas promising to fix ambulance ramping it has reached record levels on his watch,” Mr Speirs said.

“Making a visit to the doctor more expensive during a cost of living crisis made no sense, and would have forced many to seek care in our already stretched emergency departments where it’s free.

“Ensuring South Australians have easy and affordable access to GPs is absolutely critical to ease the pressure on our hospitals and ambulance service.

“While I’m pleased Peter Malinauskas has finally backflipped on his original GP tax grab, I’m afraid the backflip doesn’t go far enough.”

Shadow Treasurer, Matt Cowdrey, said it’s a bit rich for Labor to call this a “tax cut”.

“While we welcome the announcement yesterday from Stephen Mullighan and Chris Picton to exclude wages bulk-billed by GPs, we do so cautiously,” Mr Cowdrey said.

“Labor’s changes only affect bulk-billed wages, meaning the remainder of wages will be liable for payroll tax. Depending on how a GP is structured they could still be left with a significant financial burden which ultimately may be passed on to patients at a time they can least afford it.

“For nearly a year Stephen Mullighan went to great lengths to say this wasn’t a ‘new tax’ and that no change had been made to our tax system. Yet now, because he is partially excluding GP wages he is claiming it’s a ‘tax cut’.”