Digging up the dirt on TAX reform
Monday, 16 July 2012 12:21

Making sure that tax reform in Australia is not caught between a rock and a hard place is the focus of an expert forum at The Australian National University today.

The forum will examine the Henry Tax Review, including the controversial Mineral Resource Rent Tax.

The forum features former Treasury Secretary and Executive Chair of the ANU Institute of Public Policy Dr Ken Henry and, Nobel Laureate and taxation theorist Professor James Mirrlees and former leader of the Liberal Party Dr John Hewson. It will be chaired by ANU professor of economics Bob Gregory.

"There are many unresolved issues in the tax system - the GST-income tax balance, the company tax and top personal income balance, the treatment of family payments and the tax treatment of superannuation, just to name a few. They are all complex economic and political issues," said Professor Gregory.

"The Henry Review was meant to begin the policy debate, but the process became mired in the mining and carbon tax debate and the general unwillingness of politicians to speak about potential tax increases. Henry made over 100 recommendations for change and the blueprint is still sitting there on the shelf.

"However, the Government did run with perhaps the most contentious of Henry's recommendations - a resources rent tax - but the emasculated outcome shows just how hard tax reform can be. The successful advertising campaign against the government and the mining tax undertaken by the predominantly foreign owned companies shows just how difficult it is to get community-wide support for reform when powerful interests may be adversely affected."

The forum also includes Professor Patricia Apps from the University of Sydney and Professor John Freebairn from the University of Melbourne. It forms part of the week-long public policy futures and innovation event hosted by the ANU Crawford School of Public Policy, Policy public: ideas, insights and initiatives until 2020.