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Welfare economics: should Australia abolish the Age Pension?

My fellow friends, this year our ‘glorious’ government delivered one of the most unpopular budget outcomes in Australian history. Sweeping cuts have been made across all welfare programs, and tougher rules have been enforced, especially in regard to Age Pension claims. The minimum pension age will rise to 70 in 2035. The message is clear: the Australian government is finding it harder and harder to fund the program down the track. If this is the case, should our government actively plan to abolish the Age Pension in the future?

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Dealing at arms-length: sinking dubious tax havens

The global reputation of many behemoth multinationals has been tarnished by their dubious international tax arrangements. Among the worst offenders are Apple, Google and Starbucks. From 2009 to 2011 Apple alone managed to avoid taxes on $44 billion of its global profits. An Australian Financial Review investigation reveals since 2002 Apple has only paid $193 million in Australian tax, whilst recording $27 billion of sales over that period. It begs the question: how can such a well-known multinational, like Apple, engage in blatant tax avoidance within Australia’s sophisticated tax system?

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Spain’s tax on sunlight – the candle makers’ tax?

In the mid-2000’s Spain embarked on a solar power revolution: 2008 alone saw solar-energy capacity increase by 400%, accounting for half of the world’s new solar-power installations[i]. Yet five years on, many of Spain’s solar-energy companies are on the verge of bankruptcy as revenues and demand plummet. What happened to cause such a rapid fall from grace in the industry once dubbed ‘renewable-energy’s Cinderella’[ii]?

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Election 2013 – let’s talk tax reform!

This article forms part of an ongoing series looking at economic issues as Australia heads into the Federal Election. More coverage can be found on the Election 2013 page of ESSA’s website.

This election campaign has already seen its fair share of gaffes, negative ads and costings claims. Perhaps it’s time we debated the pressing need to reform our tax system, starting with the GST.

The Problem

As I watched ABC’s Q&A Monday episode, The National Economic Debate, I sat despairing at yet another missed opportunity to talk ambitiously about policy reforms in Australia. After an excellent question from the crowd about the merits of reforming the Goods and Services Tax (GST) to broaden its base and potentially increase the rate (whilst concurrently reducing and eliminating other inefficient and distortionary taxes), both Treasurer Chris Bowen and Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey manoeuvred their way out of discussing what is a sensible reform. It was arguably the most disappointing element of what was a very entertaining and substantive debate between Bowen and Hockey that covered the breadth of economic issues facing Australia.

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Economic zoning – the way forward for Australian prosperity?

This article forms part of an ongoing series looking at economic issues as Australia heads into the Federal Election. More coverage can be found on the Election 2013 page of ESSA’s website.

We are now in the second week of Australia’s (seemingly eternal) election campaign. One of the more interesting policies to emerge from the general ‘I-want-to-make-you-happy-with-money’ guff is Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s proposal to separate some northern regions of the country into their own ‘economic zone’.

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The economics behind the politics of the federal budget

The Federal Budget is fundamentally – perhaps with a bit of accounting incorporated – an economic conception, right? Wrong. While in an ideal world the political implications of fiscal budgetary processes would be disregarded, the reality is that politics ultimately determines the economics of all government budgets – albeit to various extents. Perhaps paradoxically, however, economics still trumps out in the end. How so? Because the use of economics is often the best way to explain the politics behind the economics.

While last year the use of accounting manipulations was the most demonstrable element of the Federal Budget assailable for extensive analysis, this year there are myriad of components. These will now be explored – largely within the context of the economic concept of private interest theory. This theory is essentially that politicians, including Wayne Swan when preparing the budget, will make rational choices based on their own objectives when in a decision-making position. The primary objective pertaining to the budget for Swan, and by extension the Gillard Government, would ostensibly have been to deliver a well-received budget that will maximise their chances of being re-elected (or at least minimise the number of seats they lose) on September 14.

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