02 May 2008

Wrong again, Roskam

The Friday night funnies strike again, counting the ways that John Roskam is kidding himself and the otherwise sensible readers of The Australian Financial Review that he has any sort of insight into public policy in this country.
... it's no surprise that a "tax review" was one of the ideas to emerge from the 2020 Summit. In the absence of any specifics about such a review it was easy for summit participants to agree to it ... Only a brave person would have opposed the review. And only an especially brave person would have said: "Wait a minute - should we trust a brand new federal Labor government with a review of the country's taxation system?".

As opposed to whom, John - should this be the preserve of the unelected cranks of the Eye Pee Yay? Who else but the duly elected government is better placed to review, and amend where necessary? Bravery is not the quality required for a silly idea to prevail. Australian voters knew the consequences of having one party govern and federal and state/territory level, and they voted for it anyway. The proposal that came out of the 2020 summit seemed pretty clear, more so than you give it credit for; the fact that it did not have the kind of carefully-worded terms of reference you might expect of a royal commission doesn't invalidate the idea altogether.
Co-operation between a Labor prime minister and Labor premiers extends only so far. Opening up questions about revenue-sharing between Canberra and the states would provoke a brawl of Joh Bjelke-Petersen versus Bob Hawke proportions.

You've missed the point that Bjelke-Petersen and Hawke were from opposing parties, John. You've also missed the point that no Premier/Chief Minister has anything like the popularity of Kevin Rudd: Rudd holds the upper hand politically and constitutionally. He might not get his own way all the time, but who does?
Based on the experience of both Labor and coalition [sic] governments, realistically the best to be hoped for is that anything that emerges from a review is revenue neutral.

Fair assumption. Over time you'd hope for revenue savings in reduction of federal-state/territory functions, but there are too many variables to forecast that accurately.
If the government had wanted its review of tariffs to be dispassionate and analytically rigorous it would have got the Productivity Commission to conduct it. But instead the commission [sic] was sidelined.

The Productivity Commission can't do everything, and it would be amazing if it were excluded from such a review to the extent you describe.
Business organisations have convinced themselves that the Labor government will listen to them when it comes to tax. The problem with this theory is that those same business organisations did not have too much success getting Labor to listen to their views on WorkChoices.

Business organisations understand that industrial issues have a certain resonance inside the Labor Party that non-industrial issues don't have. Howard lost the WorkChoices debate not because of too much negotiation with business organisations, but too little. It remains to be seen what extent the government has or hasn't listened to business as the legislation amending WorkChoices hasn't yet come to light.
Business should not delude itself [sic] into thinking that the trade union movement will not be intensely interested in a tax debate.

Who said it [sic] did, John? This is a straw man if ever there was one. Nobody is going to be ambushed by a feature of the Australian political landscape standing for over three decades.

And wasn't the ending a load of patronising cobblers. You can't really help anyone who's stuck in 1983, and unlike John Stone he has no excuse for this.

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