Would you be willing to pay an extra $9 every time you fill the car with petrol if it would help fund the national disability insurance scheme?
Should the rate or reach of the GST be increased to give the states more money for education?
Or are these lazy options for governments who already collect enough tax and simply waste what they’ve got?
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In an episode of the 1970s comedy series The Goodies, Graeme Garden is so taken by the power of his pirate radio station transmitting from a submarine outside the 12 mile limit, he succumbs to megalomania. He draws up plans to insert a giant hydraulic car jack between Britain and the continent to hoist the whole island outside its own 12 mile limit.
A fortnight ago the Gillard Government unveiled its latest capitulation on asylum seeker policy: a plan to excise the entire Australian continent from its own migration laws.
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Rarely do governments have an opportunity to close a tax loophole and keep people happy at the same time. They’re almost as rare as chicken’s teeth.
That’s why when business groups come together to argue for a change to the tax system, which will raise more revenue, a smart government ought to seize the opportunity.
In recent weeks we’ve heard an emerging chorus of business leaders call on the Gillard Government to close a growing tax loophole which allows foreign online retailers to avoid collecting the GST when selling goods worth less than $1000 over the Internet.
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A common theory is that the Libs, like other conservatives around the world, have derailed the climate change debate by portraying the near universal consensus of serious scientists as an either/or thing. It’s like arguing that a 100-1 shot at the races is an even money chance because it either will win or it won’t.
To push their agenda, the conservatives have paraded attention-seeking deniers like “Lord” Monckton as heroes. They have also seized on so-called data manipulators, like that mob at the Uni of East Anglia, and trumpeted their alleged conspiracy to the world, even though their science has since been shown to be totally kosher.
The ploy has worked spectacularly, too. Any number of polls show that Australians are more or less split down the middle on whether anthropogenic climate change is happening. But phase two of the anti-AGW campaign is much more insidious. Phase two is about boring the public to death. And it’s working a treat.
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When 150 business and union leaders, academics, accountants, bureaucrats and politicians gather this October for the long-awaited tax summit, few believe it will result in rapid change. This is tax policy after all. As someone once observed: “it’s not rocket science, it’s more complicated”.
While the summit, or “forum” - as the Government now calls it having been dragged to it in the deal with independents to form a minority government - will be more substantial than Kevin Rudd’s celebrity-heavy 2020 ideas summit, only the sunniest of optimists expect actual measurable change to come from it in the short term.
Rather, the hope now is that approaching four years since the then Treasury Secretary Ken Henry started the process, the Government will map out the field.
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The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and successive governments have failed to curb retailers’ increasing market power, which is why Australians pay more at the store.
Gerry Harvey may be one of Australia’s well known and most successful “traditional” retailers, but he has seriously misjudged the consumer support for online retailing. He is not alone in getting it wrong. Major retailers and shopping centre landlords have also been very unhappy with Australian consumers going online to buy from overseas websites.
Why are the major retailers and shopping centre landlords unhappy with the growth of online retailing? Simply because online retailing offers very strong competition to the major retailers and shopping centre landlords. In the “old” days before the rise of the internet, consumers were basically forced to visit shopping centres and department stores to purchase products.
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Sometimes you’ve just got to laugh in the face of brazen hypocrisy and insincerity. It can be pretty funny, after all.
One of my favourites was last year’s public campaign from the ‘Alliance of Australian Retailers’ railing against the mooted introduction of plain cigarette packaging.
Their hilarious (but deadly serious) message was “It won’t work so why do it?” Which, for me, prompted two questions: 1. Shouldn’t that question have a comma in the middle of it? And, 2. If you’re so sure it won’t work, why are you wasting around $9 million on an ad campaign to try and stop it?
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Rather than go in to bat for Australian consumers, local retailers are supporting a campaign to reduce competition and make us pay more. With that attitude, it’s little wonder so many of us are looking online when we go shopping.
Electronics retailer Gerry Harvey kicked off the war against consumers last November when he called on the government to remove the GST exemption for goods purchased online from overseas.
He also revealed that lobbying of politicians to effect this outcome had been underway for some time.
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With the coming release of John Howard’s autobiography, Lazarus Rising, it’s worth considering Howard’s standing in Australia’s political history, and to compare him to his arch-nemesis, Paul Keating.
John Howard and Paul Keating were political titans for 30 years but were vastly different politicians—and famously couldn’t stand each other.
Australian politics has enjoyed many compelling rivalries, such as Keating and Bob Hawke, Howard and Peter Costello and Julie Bishop and a garden gnome, but none have been as rancorous as between Keating and Howard.
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Please let us be honest about what we have just seen happen in this country over the last few weeks culminating in COAG.
The Prime Minister has successfully achieved a GST grab from the states, all but one, under the guise of “the most revolutionary health reform since the advent of Medicare”.
It is not a health reform agenda. It is a GST reform with a health bribe as an inducement to the States and more importantly, to con the general public. The Federal government proclaiming that it is for the first time assuming dominant funding responsibility for health over the States in a 60/40 split it is a proclamation made with State money taken with the right hand and given back with the left. What is taken and not given back is State control over increasing portions of GST income.
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