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It’s time for a land tax

Sam O’Connor argues that stamp duty should be replaced with a broad-based land tax, to improve the government bottom line and help Australians deal with the rising cost of home ownership.

The Intern Experience – Public Policy Reform, Drugs and Rock’n’Roll

Whilst the reputation for the intern experience is one of fetching coffees for superiors and photocopying a litany of documents, the experience I was fortunate to have at the Grattan Institute over Summer 2012/13 will be one to remain with me for years to come.

Founded in 2008 with financial endowments from the Federal and State governments, BHP Billiton and in kind support from the University of Melbourne, the Grattan Institute has sought to carve out a role as one of Australia’s most significant think tanks, specifically focused on public policy. Since founding, it has released a variety of influential reports on key policy issues with its most notable work released last year concerning the significant reforms that could unleash a new wave of economic growth in Australia.

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Superannuation: an incentive to save or upper-class welfare?

Superannuation reform – how boring, right?

I suspect you aren’t aware of this fundamental loophole though. Consider this. Currently, the Australian superannuation system allows an individual who has (a) reached 60 years of age and (b) decided to permanently retire to simply withdraw all of their funds from super – completely tax free – and then to splurge it all on whatever they like. It’s important to note that this amount could have been just a few thousand dollars or, alternatively, many millions and that despite the lump sum withdrawal ‘belonging’ to the individual, a large part of it would have been brought about through the subsidised nature of Australia’s superannuation framework. Here’s the real kicker though: having enjoyed a period of superfluous spending – potentially with millions of dollars – that same individual, provided that they were now aged 67 or older, would then be eligible to receive a full aged pension (and its many associated ancillary benefits) courtesy of the federal government for the rest of their life as long as they didn’t earn more than about $3,952 in a year (from interest on their now non-existent savings!) or have greater than $192,500 in assets, excluding their home. Does that sound reasonable to you?

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US Health Care Reform on Life Support?

The future of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (oft-dubbed Obamacare), President Obama’s signature policy reform of his first term, is in the balance. After a week of oral arguments before the Supreme Court, between the Administration’s lawyers and those representing the twenty-six states, and the National Federation of Independent Business challenging the law’s constitutionality, the emerging consensus is that parts of the legislation, in particular the controversial individual mandate, may be struck down by the highest judicial body.

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‘Black hole’ in the system threatens good public policy, Moran Says: Deakin Policy Forum 2012

By Joan Wu, ESSA Events Director 2012

Terry Moran, former Labour secretaryDuring a speech at the Deakin Policy Forum this week, Terry Moran called for more accountability and transparency in our troubled system of government. Moran, former secretary to Prime Ministers Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard, was quick to emphasise that it is not the quality of civil service, which is exemplary, but rather the nature of parliamentary democracy in the current system that is to blame.

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