CUTS PLANNED: Treasurer Joe Hockey must cut spending in the next budget to meet election commitments. Meanwhile, Dr Ken Henry has called for a re-look at GST.
CUTS PLANNED: Treasurer Joe Hockey must cut spending in the next budget to meet election commitments. Meanwhile, Dr Ken Henry has called for a re-look at GST. AAP Imagelukas Coch

Dr Henry, the right-wing media commentators' tax scapegoat

THERE are very few truly agnostic media commentators.

Most comment through the prism of their political beliefs, right or left.

I have noted some right-wing media commentators have poo-pooed former Treasury head Ken Henry's latest wade into the great tax debate, not based on what he's saying, but on his past.

Ken Henry you'll remember is the man who was commissioned by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Treasurer Wayne Swan to write a tome on how best to fix our sick tax system.

When the report hit the deck around Christmas 2010, it supposedly went unread by Rudd and its recommendations were cherry-picked by Swan.

As part of his commission, Henry was precluded from commenting on the GST and as far as these right-wing commentators are concerned his acceptance of that ban has stamped him a rabid leftist devoid of the ability for intelligent discourse - rubbish of course.

Dr Henry was behind the recommendation for a consumption tax rejected by the Hawke government in 1985 and the GST recommended to the new Howard government in 1997, adopted in 1999.

What Ken Henry has called for in the past weeks is a re-look at GST.

He has said that tax collections from individual taxpayers not as a percentage of GDP (as his media critics like to point to) but in raw inflation-adjusted fiscal terms are losing ground in meeting government commitments.

These commitments will escalate with the ageing of our population and growing infrastructure needs to meet an increasing population now more mobile than at any time in our history.

Company tax receipts have been down, as company profits have flat-lined for a few years now, and the great experiment with dragging tax out of miners and carbon polluters has failed.

Against that backdrop, many individuals are apparently looking down the barrel of losing Family Benefits Part B in the coming Budget.

Not only that but it is obvious that if Australia is going to be competitive internationally, then the company tax rate must be lowered ASAP.

Where the commentators from the political right and the Abbot Government have got their noses out of joint is that Dr Henry told the ABC recently that Treasurer Joe Hockey's coming spending cuts will in no way meet election commitments to the new school funding arrangements, the National Disability Insurance Scheme and paid parental leave scheme.

It's "shoot the messenger/play the man not the ball" territory - sickening.

Bob Lamont is director of Corporate Accountants situated at the Night Owl centre. He can be contacted on boblamont1947@gmail.com.



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