Failure to debate RTE tax is political cowardice says Mullen

Independent Senator and European election candidate Senator Ronan Mullen has described the unwillingness of the political parties to debate the government’s planned broadcasting charge as political cowardice. The proposed new charge will replace the existing TV licence and will impose a new tax on every household in the country. As with the TV licence, the hundreds of millions it will raise will be used to subsidise RTE.
Speaking after participating in last nights RTE Prime Time debate he said:
“It has been noticeable during the period running up to the Local and European elections that while every other proposed household charge has been the subject of debate, we haven’t heard anything about the planned new broadcasting charge. Is it the case that political parties are afraid of offending RTE and as a result are neglecting to challenge the Government on a tax that will put even more pressure on already struggling families?”
He continued:
“While the Government has sought to sell this new tax as a means on clamping down on TV licence evaders, the reality is that every home in the country will have to pay the new broadcasting fee even if they don’t own a television. So people who cannot afford to have a TV or for whatever reason do not own one will now be liable for this new tax.”
“While Minister Rabbitte has not been forthcoming with information on this new tax, it has been suggested that the liability will be added to the Local Property Tax and if a household fails to pay, it will be deducted from the wages of the home-owner. And this is a regressive tax which takes no account of a person’s ability to pay.”
“When the tax was originally proposed, Minister Rabbitte suggested that the extra revenue generated from taxing all households would be used to reduce the tax amount. This idea now seems to have been abandoned. It is unclear where the extra revenue raised will be going. Is it going to the exchequer? Or will it be given to RTE to beef up the salaries of its top presenters? It is time the Minister came clean on this.”
“It’s astounding that this tax is scheduled to be introduced at the end of 2014, similar to the water charges. Yet the hard questions are not being asked by candidates in the run-up to the elections. This says everything about the unwillingness of the established political parties to approach the topic in an election year for fear of offending the vested interests in Montrose. The tax-payers deserve better,” Senator Mullen concluded