Groups representing business and the community sectors have called on Australia’s leaders to approach the task of tax reform in an open, inclusive and transparent way that does not rule out options because it is politically expedient to do so.
Ahead of this week’s Leaders’ Retreat involving Australia’s First Ministers, the groups are releasing a set of agreed messages on tax reform.
The groups, which include the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Australian Council of Social Service and Business Council of Australia, are urging leaders to demonstrate a level of bipartisanship and inter-jurisdictional cooperation not seen for a long time.
They are focused on supporting leaders to work towards a tax system that raises the revenue governments need to provide services to the community in a way that supports a stronger economy and job creation, and is fair.
The groups also support leaders having an ambitious and far reaching agenda for federation reform, and commend Premiers who have already demonstrated that they are approaching the task in that spirit.
Roles and responsibilities of different levels of government should be determined as part of the review of the Federation. While these are clearly relevant to tax reform, the best starting point for the tax review is to design a robust, fair and efficient national tax base: revenue distribution arrangements across the Federation can then follow.
Every one of the leaders knows that we need to reform a tax system that’s out of step with the rapid economic and social changes Australia faces.
ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie said: “We can no longer afford to avoid serious tax reform. If we postpone it until governments really do face a Budget crisis the choices will be a lot tougher.
“Experience shows us that tax and budget reform can be achieved, but it will require a degree of vision, consensus and bi-partisanship, starting with our political leaders. ACOSS is up for reform, this is why were are working with business and others.”
Governments and all stakeholders must remain open to looking at the tax system as a whole, and considering all the options which could deliver the optimal system for the 21st century global economy.
Reform will only happen if our political, business and community leaders take the long view and put the national interest first.
BCA Chief Executive Jennifer Westacott said: “If our diverse organisations can sit down together and nut out the objectives for tax reform, core problems with the current system and some directions for change, this provides our political leaders with a solid platform of consensus and support to take things forward.”
Fernando de Freitas (ACOSS) – 0419 626 155
Scott Thompson (BCA) – 0403 241 128