The Australian government has, finally, released the Henry tax review, that it has been sitting on since it was delivered back by Treasury in December 2009. As you can see below, there doesn’t seem to have been much reason to sit on it for six months.
Kevin Rudd has been awfully busy recently back tracking from anything that may even remotely scare voters at the next polls, and Tony Abbott will probably snipe at this too, and the media? Well they’ve got a budget to deal with in just under 10 days so this will all pass and by mid-August we should be hearing the Rudd Government crow about how they’re helping working families and about all that extra money you’ve got in your pocket thanks to uncle Kev and his happy elves.
Alan Kohler had this to say in response to the release of the Henry tax review:
“The team of five headed by Treasury Secretary Ken Henry has produced 138 recommendations that make up a compellingly comprehensive vision for Australia’s future tax and transfer system. It is a great document – probably the best tax review ever produced in this country.
Amazingly, the government has almost entirely ignored it. After five months of leaking and spinning since the report was handed to him, the Treasurer has picked up exactly 1.75 of its 138 recommendations, or a bit over 1 per cent.
In general, Wayne Swan’s tax policy statement bears almost no relation to the Henry Tax Review, except that it came out on the same day. Its centrepiece – the Resource Super Profits Tax (RSPT) – is one of the Henry recommendations, but the cut in the company tax rate represents only about a quarter of the recommendations about company taxation, and the small business concessions are about a half of what’s proposed.
Total: 1.75 accepted; 136.25 rejected or put off.”
And Dennis Shanahan, the political editor for The Australian said:
TIMING and finance has killed or shelved much of the wide-ranging tax reform recommendations on the long-awaited Henry Tax Review.
Wayne Swan, in an election year, has killed off the most contentious and politically damaging recommendations – such as forcing mothers on benefits to look for full-time work when their child turns just four – as being not acceptable or simply not affordable.
Conceding that the independent review recommended going further on cutting corporate tax to 25 per cent, instead of the long-term aim of 28 per cent, the Treasurer simply dubbed it unaffordable now and set a deadline beyond the next election.
Likewise, the extended and phased target of 12 per cent superannuation – “adding to a long Labor legacy” as Swan said – will only become fully effective at the end of the decade, after three or four more elections.
Even the key funding element of the tax review – the 40 per cent resources rent tax – which the Government has chosen to call a “super profits tax” – will not be in place for years and may not be legislated until the second term of the Rudd Government.
That’s the key point in how the Henry Tax Review has been treated, it’s been released, along with the Government’s response, only months before Labor faces its first attempt to be re-elected.
Much of the review is actually being put off for discussion over the next decade and that which is being implemented, even in an different form to that Henry recommended, has been cast in a political light.