21 years after it was introduced, GST is back in vogue

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Have you ever wondered how The Tax Institute manages to deliver such topical, relevant conference programs year on year? Behind the scenes, our program committees put in mammoth amounts of effort to ensure that programs address not only the current issues of contention in each field of tax, but also areas of emerging interest.

At this year’s 2021 National GST Conference happening in Sydney and online, we're celebrating the GST's 21st birthday. Though we're still waiting for long-needed reform to this important consumption tax, that doesn't mean there isn't new ideas, updates and information to explore. GST is a vital part of our tax system, and a vital consideration in many tax practices.

We chatted to the organising committee about why this year’s program is so relevant, which sessions they are most looking forward to and why the program caters to a variety of practitioners in the legal and accounting sectors, commerce and government.

Meet the Committee members in the video below.


What was the committee aiming to achieve when planning the program? Who is it designed for?

Anne Collins"We're looking to continue a high level of quality papers delivered by high quality presenters. The nature of The Tax Institute’s National GST Conference is that it is of a very high standard, and I think the delegates very much appreciate that we look to cover topics that are of interest, changes that have happened on the GST landscape in the last 12 months and make sure that we communicate that to delegates, so they have the opportunity to learn about those changes.

We ideally would have liked a face-to-face and online hybrid event. That remains to be seen as to whether we can achieve that, due to lockdowns in various states. I hope that we can achieve not only a very high level of content and speakers, but also the ability to interact with our counterparts and our colleagues.

In terms of our members, we are really looking to pitch the conference at three main areas:
  • Legal and accounting practice personnel
  • Professionals that work in commerce
  • Professionals that are working for government

Our aim is to have a cross section of each of those areas. That’s how we've prepared our content, and we have speakers from all of those different areas.

Our Conference is well supported by the Tax Office itself, and our members from the Tax Office. A number of our presenters are from the Tax Office, this gives us a great cross section across industry, commerce and government. 

This year, we wanted to try and attract younger members as well, and so we kept the content relevant and interesting for all different levels of people, people with a lot more experience, but also some of our younger delegates that may have less experience."

Anne Collins, Glencore
Chair, Conference Organising Committee

Tell us about the speakers at this years conference. Which sessions you are particularly looking forward to?

1-Sep-17-2021-02-06-53-91-AM"The speakers at The Tax Institute’s National GST Conference is always a highlight. The committee has always worked to ensure there's a good mix of tax and legal advisors, representatives from the ATO and practitioners from industry. The mix of presenters provides a well balanced, good mix of perspectives.

It's always hard to call out any specific session as being a highlight. The content is always exceptional. Some that I’m particularly looking forward to this year, from the perspective of a practitioner in industry, would be the hot topics issues and tips section, which is a really good year in review session and summarises developments that have occurred since the last National GST Conference.

I think the GST Justified Trust panel discussion will be very, very insightful, and quite timely, given that the ATO has introduced their new combined assurance review program. It will be good to hear the different perspectives. Firstly from the ATO on how they will administer it, from practitioners in industry on how they found the process, and from tax and legal advisors on how to manage the process.

Technical sessions that deep dive into specific industries, are the financial supplies and property session. I might not deal with these on a regular day to day basis, but I feel it's important to keep up to date on topical and developing issues on more specific and complex industries.

Sessions which give you a feel for what's coming up in the next year are always valuable, like Invoicing and the implementation in Australia compared to other OECD countries. Roderick Cordara’s session on changes in the UK as a result of Brexit give you a feel for future GST developments in Australia."

Steven Ren, CTA, Uber

Could you tell us why this program has particular value for GST practitioners working in the legal sector, especially large corporate law firms?

2-Sep-17-2021-02-06-53-71-AM"The National GST Conference is a great conference for practitioners in large law firms, for two reasons.

  1. The high-quality presentations and high quality papers across a wide breadth of GST really gives you a chance to make sure you're on top of the areas you practice in a lot, but also get on top of areas you might not practice in that much. You never know when the next phone call comes in from a client or partner or senior associate in the business. You might need to be across that topic that's being addressed at this GST Conference, so that's very helpful.
  2. Fairly unique to the GST Conference, there's a great combination of advisors from law and accounting, but also corporates and the Tax Office presenting and giving their understanding, reflection and concerns on areas of the GST act. It's pretty rare that you get a chance to sit back and listen and get the understanding from the point of view of the Tax Office and leading corporates. It's very valuable in your day to day advisory business being able to get that perspective.

If you look at the quality of the speakers we've got this year, I’m really looking forward to Graeme Cooper, he’s always entertaining and quite incisive. I’ve heard Ken Fehily’s got a few surprises for us. I can highly recommend listening to any of Roderick Cordara’s presentations. They are very, very insightful and you do go away with a greater knowledge and also appreciation of how there’s issues just like the one’s we’re dealing with in GST, all over the world and there's lessons to be learned."

Andrew Howe, CTA, Greenwoods & Herbert Smith Freehills

How do you think the National GST Conference will benefit those working in industry, commerce and government?

4-Sep-17-2021-02-06-53-90-AM"For me there’s two key reasons why the GST conference holds particular value to attend this year. First of all I think the GST is back in vogue. We're seeing a lot of focus on GST for businesses in the ATO as the ATO continues its Justified Trust Program.

This is leading to a renewed scrutiny on the application of GST in a broad range of areas, from financial services to property to product classification and beyond. Many of which will, I think, result in contentious GST matters and most likely disputes.

Secondly, I think our world in GST is expanding. Governance, data and technology are all things that are becoming core to GST and give rise to new things to think about.

As GST relevance expands into these areas, I think other reporting and regulatory adjacencies are also appearing, including, for example, the payment terms reporting regime and the e-invoicing Peppel framework, just to name a couple.

This year's conference content is a great reflection of how relevant GST is to business and government."

Matthew Strauch, CTA, PwC


The 2021 National GST Conference is returning to Sydney and going online, this 2-3 December.

Over a two day program, some of Australia’s leading GST experts from the tax profession, industry and government will take an in depth look through topical issues providing practical takeaways and applications for GST specialists.

Explore the full program and get your tickets today.


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