Swan’s Canberra summit is a massive tax dodge
Wayne Swan’s October tax summit is set to deliver on public expectation, but don’t get too excited just yet. Expectations of root and branch tax reform are lower then the chance of Julia Gillard keeping her next promise.
Australia’s productivity slump cries out for sharp and fierce action to remove the dead wood our economy is carrying. But you won’t find relief anywhere in the Treasurer’s plans.
If the release of the Treasurer’s insipid discussion paper is anything to go by, the same few unenthused journalists might make an appearance to cover the announcement of the 1 or 2 revenue neutral changes that will eventuate from this talk fest.
While media speculation about what might eventuate in October is offering Labor some respite from the Carbon Tax debacle, it’s no secret that the summit is another concession to appease the Green and Independent leaders who really call the shots.
The Treasurer has set about nonchalantly picking and choosing what should be on the table for discussion.
The Summit is set to review a range of taxes but will not include the Carbon or Mining taxes.
It seems pointless to have a selective tax discussion especially when some of the largest players, those that ensure Australia’s economic prosperity appear to have slipped off the invite list. Or were they pushed?
For the October summit to deliver as it should, all major stakeholders must be present and taxation options on the table. This includes the mining sector as well as representatives of the banking sector yet to be invited.
It is impossible to gain economic and taxation efficiencies for Australia when a collection of our key stakeholders have no say on the issues in which they hold the largest share.
Not only has the Treasurer sidelined the contentious mining and carbon taxes from discussion, he has categorically ruled out any changes to the GST.
This goes against the grain of the treasurers own discussion papers which proffers “shifting the tax burden or tax mix from one base to another needs broad consensus”.
Finding economic reforms but being hamstrung by a revenue neutral ultimatum from the Treasurer makes the summit as ground breaking as the Henry tax review. The Treasurer is safeguarding himself politically, and ignoring the opportunity for meaningful discussion that could cement Australia’s long term economic prosperity.
In the Treasurer’s 24 page discussion paper he offers a “congestion tax” for discussion. However, also missing is representation from the transport sector.
Julia Gillard has previously ruled out a “congestion tax”, perhaps just not under the government she leads. Another adamant promise from our Prime Minister that has me expecting feelings of déjà vu.
I had hoped what Wayne Swan said about real roots and branch tax reform would be much better than the roots and branches previously mentioned by Prime Minister Rudd some two years ago. It is a matter of common sense that one must investigate all options before finding the one that suits best.
It is incomprehensible that the Treasurer believes reform of any real substance can come from reviewing just a portion of our taxation system. However we seem destined to travel the well worn path of Labor policy that foregoes any of the real effort needed to prosper true economic reform.
Furthermore, the Treasurer’s creation of this so called “robust debate” will allow the Government to claim that tax reform has been achieved. We can then expect more tax increases at the hands of the Labor Government cleverly depicted as the increases we all agreed upon.
Perhaps we should grant the Treasurer some leeway. After all, he is battling to achieve something during his term in office that will come close to his predecessors’ efforts. Hawke, Keating, Swan?
Somehow I don’t imagine our current treasurers name being thrust forward in future discussions about Australia’s greatest economic achievements.
Regardless of what is driving this weak tax summit, such a forum is only going to result in equally meaningless change. In any case, tax reform doesn’t equate to tax cuts in the Labor party.
Given the Greens’ influence, business can look forward to a slap from the Left for not paying their fair share.
It’s not too late to fix this, yet I don’t see the Treasurer revising the terms of reference in order to make it worthwhile. I might take up Mr Oakshott’s offer to ‘‘make a submission to me, and I’ll do what I can to have their issue considered’‘. Apparently he’s the man to see!
It is no wonder Tony Abbott and the Coalition wish to respectfully decline their invitation.
In the end, this talk fest will proffer little action despite the supposed urgent need to get Australia’s economy pumping again to fight the uncertainties of our banana republic. The summit will not be the forum for the real roots and branch reform we need.
There is one light on the horizon, with Don Farrell’s blade claiming another Labor leader over the weekend. Hopefully Australia won’t suffer at the hands of this Government for too much longer.
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