Cole might
be the big story, but pre-Budget manoeuvring mustn’t stop. Peter Hendy talked
through his tax paper onPM last night
– and pushed for changes during the day.

The Oz‘s
editorial is stern on the subject again today:

There is no good reason for Mr Costello to
continue to sit on the Hendy-Warburton report. It should have been a matter of
public record as soon as it hit Mr Costello’s desk: no conceivable threat to
public safety or national security could be contained within its pages.
Taxpayers paid for the report, and taxpayers will likely see its conclusions
reflected in their pay packets after this May’s budget.

They’re
absolutely right on that point – but then go on to say:

While the Treasurer fiddles, others continue to
make the case for reforming the system by which the Australian Government
collects the cash to pay its bills. Yesterday, the Centre for Independent
Studies launched Taxploitation: The Case for Income Tax Reform. Edited
by Peter Saunders, the book contains submissions by 10 thinkers, each with
different ideas for reform, but all with a compelling and consistent message –
namely, that the system is broken and needs urgent fixing if Australia is to remain competitive. If OECD
figures point to it, if the head of the ACCI trumpets it, and if independent
think tanks can document it, why won’t the Treasurer do something about it?

Back to our
remarks from yesterday. Last time we looked, this was the Howard Government.
And it’s likely to remain so – unless there’s a bloody big smoking artillery
piece about to suddenly appear when the PM’s in the witness box at Cole.

Peter
Costello has failed on tax reform. That failure reflects poorly on his
potential as a leader. But, with that failure as a given, it also reflects
poorly on the Prime Minister and his own lead over the past decade. There’s plenty
of blame to go round here.

Peter Fray

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