ACOSS: Politics has failed us and it's time the Australian community led tax reform

Politics has failed and it’s time the Australian community took the lead on tax and economic reform, according to the CEO of the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) Cassandra Goldie.

Writing in the AFR this morning, Goldie said: “The current debates about our public budget problems show us the failure of reliance on politicians to lead the debates.”

As a result ACOSS will join with the Business Council, ACTU and others at the National Reform Summit next week to try to rise above the political debate and “show that common ground is possible and that, if we get the process right, breakthroughs can be achieved,” Goldie wrote.

Core to Goldie’s move is the short term thinking that now pervades Australian politics.

Goldie says most Australians understand that the state and federal governments face budgetary problems but:

As long as the tax debate is framed by simple slogans such as “lower taxes” we won’t progress tax reform. The reality is that, as the population ages – and our reasonable expectations of the healthcare system increase – governments will need more revenue to provide this and other essential services.

Goldie said Australia should have the debate on the GST but warned the case for raising the GST to cut income tax was “weak”. If it just reduced tax for the top 20% and put in place “compensation”, that is easily changed in the future.

Perhaps her most controversial contribution to the debate, however, is that she suggests exploring “more equitable” options for tax reform. This she said, could include “restoring the personal income tax system for people older than 65”.

No doubt both sides of politics will swiftly reject this. But that’s Goldie’s point. If we all recognise something must be done, our politicians can’t simple rule everything out that might be a hard sell to their stakeholders in the electorate.

You can read more here.

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