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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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West Papua – Genocide and Economic Marginalisation

Just some 300km north of our borders human rights violations are being committed on a vast scale. Torture, rape, extrajudicial killings, false imprisonment, and violent suppression of peaceful demonstrations are happening en masse, and it’s all being carried out in West Papua – one of Australia’s closest neighbours.

There has been a movement for West Papuan independence from Indonesia for half a century and this article, amongst other things, will hopefully show how economics is exacerbating the problem faced by the West Papuan people.

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Two Sides of Politics – A Fiscal Tug of War

swan hockeyWith the September Federal election looming, both Labor and the Coalition are expected to use every political weapon in their arsenal, aimed at capturing every possible vote. Undoubtedly some of the most lethal are fiscal policies offering the highest possible marginal political benefit. Already, treasurer Wayne Swan’s decision to rescind the long held promise of a budget surplus has captured headlines in almost every major print newspaper in Australia. In contrast, the Coalition remains loyal to a surplus even though the budget’s automatic stabilisers are dragging it into a deficit. Juxtaposing these two budgetary stances, it is important to ask: which of the two is the better policy?

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The World this week with ESSA

Hand picked selection of economics content from around the web.

This week: Austerity is supposed to reduce debt and stabilise recessions – but has it worked? Also why Australia’s macro policies have been successful, and the case for legalising prostitution.

ESSA, 14 October 2012

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New Greens Leader: The Christine Milne Approach

Christine Milne in action

Like him or loathe him, Bob Brown has made a remarkable achievement in leading the Greens from their origins as a protest movement to an organised and successful political party. He leaves the Greens holding 9 Senate seats and 1 House of Representatives seat federally, as well as having political representatives in State and local government levels around the country.

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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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Wayne Swan’s Ironic Attack on Billionaire Miners for his Own Self-Interest

Source: Timeshift9

Wayne Swan’s essay in The Monthly titled ‘The 0.01 Per Cent: The Rising Influence of Vested Interests in Australia’ has caused quite a stir in the last few weeks. Swan laments the rising influence of wealthy vested interests in Australia’s public policy debate, and warns of it undermining our equality and democracy. These are strong, politically-potent words from Australia’s Treasurer, and have brought interesting reactions from the opposition, the media, the mining industry magnates he attacked, and the general public.

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Party Politics Trumps Policy Detail

George Megalogenis’ quarterly essay titled ‘Trivial Pursuit: Leadership and the end of the reform era’ highlights the worrying lack of political leadership on both sides of the parliament in the aftermath of the 2010 Australian federal election. It argues that political short-termism and party politics has become the order of the day, leaving proper policy debate and detailed analysis out of the picture. It means that governments are focussing on winning the next 24-hour news cycle, or the next opinion poll rather than focussing on creating an enduring economic reform agenda that builds on our prosperity in Australia. Many prominent Australian journalists, including Megalogenis and Annabel Crabb of the ABC, have vowed not to discuss opinion polls to reflect their distaste of the current political atmosphere.

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