Did anyone else wonder why Treasury released those documents on the
studies of a 30% flat tax through FOI to The Australian last week given the embarrassment
that it caused Peter Costello after his attacks on a similar proposal
by Malcolm Turnbull?

In a lovely twist, the public debate about Malcolm Turnbull’s proposals
appears to have triggered the so-called “public interest” test that
dictates whether documents should be released under FOI.

The Australian‘s FOI Editor Michael McKinnon has a significantly
batting record after more than 20 different battles with the Federal
Government in the AAT over FOI. The public interest is at the heart of
this argument and Malcolm certainly generated a lot of interest about
tax scales amongst members of the public.

The Treasury boffins clearly knew that McKinnon would go them again
the AAT and all this Turnbull-inspired debate would almost certainly
satisfy the “public interest” test. They didn’t even bother fighting,
instead just handing over the documents, much to the chagrin of Peter
Costello who looked rather silly given his attacks on the member for

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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