ALP insider and occasional Crikey contributor “The Labor Dry” picks up on an interesting issue:

What
happened to the concept of Shadow Ministers not straying from their portfolio
responsibilities? There used to be a time that if you wanted to be a newspaper
commentator, you went off to the backbench. Not the case anymore it seems.

Take Shadow
Minister Tanya Plibersek in today’s SMH.
In her column – “The tax perk that gives cars a free ride” – she might as well be
the Shadow Treasurer or Shadow Revenue Minister, the way she discusses tax and
tax concessions.

Ms
Plibersek raises the age old chestnut of salary sacrificing of motor vehicles –
a tax concession that costs around $1 billion a year. Her history is right – it
was introduced as a sop to Australia’s car industry when the FBT was
introduced. Thanks Tanya for the insight, but what are you going to do about
it?

Well, in
the typical inner city Labor way, you deal with one rort by adding another. In
Tanya’s case, it is adding another rort to allow salary sacrificing of public
transport use. I’m surprised she didn’t add salary sacrificing of child care,
or even the morning latte while she was at it.

So, is this
Labor’s view now? You don’t actually reduce the top marginal rate on paper, but
you open up concessions so people can reduce its impact anyway? Tell the mad
Left that you’ll preserve the top rate for Crown Street, Surry Hills cred purposes, but
hide its real impact on the wallet with as many dodgy rorts as you can muster? It’s
classic inner city Left stuff – bellow that the rich should pay tax but make
damn sure that you minimise yours – so long as it’s for the “right” reasons of
course.

Well Labor,
how’s this for a real tax reform idea? By all means, remove concessions (or
better still grandfather them out), but use the proceeds to reduce rates –
including the top rate! It’s called tax reform 101 – widen the base and reduce
rates. No threshold fiddles. Cut instead. Including the top rate. Maybe even
align the top rate and company rate – now that would be novel. Just as the
Left’s newfound poster boy, PJK did in the mid 80s. But we don’t remember him
then do we.

Peter Fray

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