Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison clearly doesn’t do much reading, otherwise why would he blithely tell viewers on the ABC’s Insiders on Sunday that:

But the idea that if you lower taxes which…  it’s not just the US, as you know, the UK is doing it, even Germany now is considering it. They’re considering it. They’re already doing it in France.

One of those assertions is wrong — badly wrong — and he only has to buy a copy (or go online) of the latest edition of The Economist to see why. The piece, entitled “Tax reform, fishing for funds” in the print edition, discusses the growing cry in Britain to improve the National Health Service, social welfare, prisons, police (boosting numbers of guards and police), and transport. It seems to come down on ways of broadening the tax base via changes to taxes on consumption, which is what Scott Morrison and Malcolm Turnbull have ruled out.

The Treasurer would find that, far from looking to cut taxes, Britain is now seeing the start of a debate about how to fill an £80 billion shortfall in income required “to put the public finances (of the UK) on an even keel” over the long term. The paper says that is equal to 4% of GDP and the estimate hasn’t come from some left- or right-wing think tank, but the UK government’s own Office For Budget responsibility.

“Politicians are slowly coming round to the idea of higher taxes,” The Economist reported. “If Britons want good public services, they will need to pay more. Real tax reform is coming sooner or later.”

Peter Fray

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