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How do you achieve tax reform when the government are more interested in name-calling than honesty?

Rather than prosecuting the case for their policies, such as they are, the Coalition have decided their best chance of re-election lies with their “Kill Bill” strategy where they try to convince us, mainly through puerile name-calling like “Unvelieva-Bill”, that Bill Shorten can’t be trusted because he “says one thing in Canberra and another thing in Queensland/Victoria/Western Australia.”

Considering their own track record, that is a very dangerous road for them to go down.

It is true that Labor have argued for, and made, company tax cuts in the past but they were accompanied by increased taxes elsewhere to help pay for them.

When Paul Keating cut the company tax rate from 49 per cent to 33 per cent, he paid for it by a massive broadening to the base of the tax system: capital gains taxation at full marginal rates, a comprehensive fringe benefits tax, the abolition of entertainment as a deduction, tax on company cars etc.

The Gillard government went to the 2010 election proposing a modest cut to the company tax rate reducing it to 29%. The policy also referred to the introduction of “new resource tax arrangements including a Minerals Resource Rent Tax for coal and iron ore and an expansion of the Petroleum Resource Rent Tax for oil and gas.”

At the time, the Coalition opposed any spending attached to the MRRT and so also opposed the company tax cuts.

When asked “If the legislation is introduced separately, which way will you vote on the company tax cut?”, Joe Hockey said they would still oppose it.

“The total amount of revenue to be raised by the mining tax over the next three years is the equivalent of just three months of borrowings by this Government in the last few weeks. This government is on track to have a deficit of nearly $40 billion this financial year. The mining tax is estimated to bring in around $10 billion over the next three years. It is a simple equation.”

Yet now, with government debt hundreds of billions higher, the Coalition feel they can give substantial company and personal income tax cuts with no broadening of the tax base or reduction of concessions whilst also delivering a surplus, mainly by relying on what appear to be unrealistic estimates of wage growth and the hope that the windfall from increased commodity prices and surging company profits will continue.

And if we want to revisit what the party leaders have said in the past, it is worth looking at what Malcolm Turnbull wrote about negative gearing, capital gains tax discounts, and concessions for the wealthy in general.

In his 2005 tax policy paper, Turnbull described negative gearing and the CGT discount as a “sheltering tax haven” that is “skewing national investment away from wealth-creating pursuits, towards housing”, and has caused a “property bubble”. Turnbull also acknowledged that “Australia’s rules on negative gearing are very generous compared to many other countries” and that “the normal deductibility principles do not apply to negatively geared real estate such that the taxpayer is not obliged to demonstrate that the negatively geared property will generate positive cash flow at some point in the distant future”.

In 2014 he said “Looking at Australia’s tax regime you would say that it is too tough on people earning income… but is incredibly concessional to older people who have made their money…”

But according to Scott Morrison, Labor’s policy to stop refunds for excess franking credits is “ripping off retirees, pensioners, nannas, nonnas and yayas all over the country.”

There was a time when Malcolm Turnbull spoke the truth about important things.

In a speech to the House of Representatives in February 2010, Malcolm warned that “having the Government pay for emissions abatement, as opposed to the polluting industries themselves, is a slippery slope which can only result in higher taxes and more costly and less effective abatement of emissions.”

He told Lateline in 2011, “If you want to have a long-term technique of cutting carbon emissions, you know, in a very substantial way to the levels that the scientists are telling us we need to do by mid-century to avoid dangerous climate change, then a direct action policy where the Government, where industry was able to freely pollute, if you like, and the Government was just spending more and more taxpayers’ money to offset it, that would become a very expensive charge on the budget in the years ahead.”

They have avoided that by refusing to commit any more money to Direct Action and not giving a shit about emissions rising.

When the Coalition say that you will always pay higher taxes under Labor, they seem to forget that they introduced the GST, adding enormously to the cost of living in one fell swoop.

They were also the ones who introduced the budget repair levy, removing it before the budget is repaired but in time for an election. Suggestions by Labor that it should be kept until the budget is repaired bring howls of class warfare from the very people who introduced it in the first place.

They also conveniently ignore the fact that the Gillard government tripled the tax-free threshold putting thousands of dollars back into the hands of low income earners.

Whoever is advising government strategy would do well to remember the words of Matthew:

“You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

We will never achieve genuine tax reform with a government who is more interested in name-calling than honesty.

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  1. Kerri

    It is utterly pathetic the way this government is incapable of moving beyond pre school.
    Someone needs to get a bunch of pre-schoolers to write to Malcolm Turnbull with suggestions for names he can call Bill Shorten.

  2. Jaquix

    This government is a disgrace. ABC Insiders repeated the childish “Unbelieva-Bill” mantra over and over again on Sunday. They should have added that Twitter came alive with so many alternatives – like Prefer-a-Bill, Elect-a-Bill, Formida-Bill, Unstopp-a-Bill.
    Libs seem to have shut up on that since then. To see the supposed Prime Minister of this country repeating these childish slogans, was just mind-numbing.

  3. Kaye Lee

    They pretend that their proposed changes to income tax rates are fair.

    If all three phases went through, someone on $200,000 taxable income pa would receive an annual tax cut of $7,225. Their effective tax rate would reduce from 31.6% to 28% – a drop of 3.6%

    Someone on $41,000 pa would have their tax cut by $540. Their effective rate would drop from 11.9% to 10.6% – a drop of 1.3%

    The only change for low income earners is, from 1 July 2018 until 30 June 2022 (for only 4 years), the application of a Low and Middle Income Tax Offset (LAMITO) for Australians with a taxable income of less than $90,000. This is a small tax offset that applies when you do your tax return so does not help with weekly income and does not apply to people who pay no tax (it can only reduce what you owe to zero). Perhaps we could ask them, if we don’t owe enough tax to use up the whole offset, could they just give us a refund for the diff like they do with shareholders who don’t owe enough tax to use their franked dividends. (In yer dreams, as they would say).

  4. jagman48

    Insiders yesterday was a shocker. They go from bad to worse in their bias.

  5. coco

    The Pentecostal liar is speaking in forked tongues again. What happened to the lying LNP hypocrite’s “debt and deficit disaster”. This guy makes trump look almost honest. Did none of his other happy clappers tell this creature that lying is a sin?

  6. guest

    The kinds of details Kaye refers to here are not to be found in recent right-wing scribbling. Look at Chris Mitchell teaming up with Paul Kelly and we see according to them Bill Shorten is lying about tax cuts because he is trying to claim that he will use the Coalition’s big tax cuts to business before those tax cuts have fully come into play into the 2020s.

    From what these two scribblers say anyone would think that Labor is increasing taxes on big business in order to create a “war chest” of $200bn with which to fight the next election.

    So we have a baffling array of these taxes and those taxes … etc etc… and percentages for this group and that group – and it looks like a class war with tear gas and smoke screens and threats of nuclear destruction.

    Sometimes I think that if less and less tax is so good for the economy, then we would be better off with no taxes at all. The business, taxless, could pay higher wages and invest, while workers, taxless, with higher wages and able to invest in business, could help grow the economy.

    But no, we have to have the eternal squabble: our tax cut is bigger than your tax cut; our tax cut is more believable than your tax cut; my parents pay more tax than your parents… It is so exhausting trying to think ahead to three elections time and whether we will even be here.

  7. etnorb

    How can we EVER “believe” anything that this effing mob of liars says? Although they have always been “seen” to be “better” money managers than Labor (WTF??), it is plainly obvious to EVERYONE but any bloody conservatives, that this is & has always been a total farce! Trouble is far too many idiots in this country seem to believe that EVERYTHING the bloody liberals say & do is still much better than anything the Labor mob say or do! God help Australia (& I am not religious!) if this incompetent mob of liars gets re-elected!

  8. Kaye Lee


    I have the dubious pleasure of attending extended family dos with Chris Mitchell. He loves to sit there holding court with an adoring crowd while the more politically astute members of the family are down the other end of the room talking about reality as opposed to Chris’s ideological offerings. He has a very very high opinion of himself, entirely unjustified in my first hand opinion. I don’t engage….it would be pointless even if I could get a word in. The condescending mansplaining would be too much for my restraint to bear.

  9. guest

    Thank you, Kaye. Mitchell seems to think he is one of the few who know anything about anything. But as a climate change denier he is part of the obfuscation and muddling of the discussion about climate change and is a Murdoch player in Oz politics. While there is all this hoo-ha about dual citizenship, we need to be more afraid of the expatriate Oz citizen now USA citizen who has been paid millions of dollars by the Coalition to advertise “niche sports”, which could very well include Oz politics.

    PS. Kaye, you had an interesting post going concerning talking to teachers about education rather than right-wing think tanks. It disappeared. What happened?

  10. Kaye Lee

    Ummm….certain people weren’t happy about it from what I can gather. Not sure what I can say.

  11. James Ellis

    Almost every defective policy that dribbles from the vaults of these corporate agents seems to hold unbridalled greed as their steady base and launch platform.
    Their closeted conservative mindset has no way of recognising the value of the creation of demand as the most crucial driver of jobs and economic growth in Australia.
    Maintaining an austerity for the unwashed masses with an expectation that trickle down theory will solve the resultant damage to our communities is such a fractured fairytale.

  12. Ricardo29

    Sometimes I think the splashing around of broad numbers, say regarding tax cuts or budget deficits tend to make eyes glaze over. Making things a bit more personal might help get the message across. For example Scott Morrison earns (sorry, is paid) so much, his most recent pay rise amounted to so much a year, or a week, or a day, and he plans to give himself a tax cut of this much with his proposed flattening of the tax structure ( KL you can probably fill in the specifics). Then, for comparison, the average wage-earner’s comparable amounts, and then, perhaps, the Pensioner’s outcome: in my case $33 000, $12 per fortnight, nil and nil.

  13. John L

    Etnorb – “Although they have always been “seen” to be “better” money managers than Labor”……. only by MSM repetition, and repeated assertion by those who are 10 IQ points short of “effwit”!

  14. guest

    It amazes me that the Coalition can carry on as if it is business as usual with more cash in the hands of business.

    What we see is that business believes itself to be deserving of tax cuts, while at the same time it squirrels money away in tax havens and pretends it know nothing about it. They create company conglomerates so that money is shifted about so that no one knows which way it goes.

    Meanwhile our businesses are doing great damage to our environment and at no cost to them – or so they think. We know that water is scarce, so they steal it. Oil spills happen; fracking will affect artesian flows. In 200 years humans have increased the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere by 40% and in 60 years have increased the average temperatures by 1%, the fastest rate of rise for any comparable rise in temperature.

    We are killing the world. If not the people, we have killed off, exterminated, 100s of species, including 80% of mammals. Birds die from drinking poisonous water in abandoned mines. The seas and the land are being contaminated by various poisons we pour into the oceans as if they are waste drains. Plastic is everywhere – in the water, in the ground. in the bodies of living creature. Our land and food are being poisoned with a vast array of synthetic fertilisers, poisons, hormones, inhibitors and chemicals injurious to our bodies.

    As for the “debate” about climate change, there is no debate, Climate change is real. And when people wake up to the truth, there are people who are going to be in big trouble for being involved – and for trying to hide the truth with fatuous nonsense.

    We live in interesting times indeed.

    And still the culprits bleat on, pretending to be hard-done-by victims, begging for hand-outs.

    Any criticism is more and more being suppressed, censored. Freedom of speech is reserved for the powerful.

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