BACK in December 2009, Ken Henry presented the federal treasurer, Wayne Swan, with the final report of the Australia’s Future Tax System Review and the government buried it. The government formally released the report in May 2010, and promptly buried it again with its “deft” handling of the resource super profits tax. Henry made 137 recommendations; the federal government responded to three and a bit, and not at all well. Next week’s tax forum will look at a few more.
Reading the Henry Report is far more interesting than watching rampant self-interest fight the same tired pitched battles over tax in the guise of national debate. It would be nice if Australia’s future tax system looked a little more like Henry’s recommendations than the soul-destroying edifice it is now. And Henry is far from an impractical theorist: “In principle, the home production of alcohol would be subject to tax,” he observes. “In practice, this is unlikely to be feasible…”