Thursday, September 16, 2010

Put GST on tax table, pleads Business Council

BIG business wants a rise in the GST to be on the table at next year's tax summit.

Releasing a five-point list of priority actions for the Gillard government to take in its first 100 days, Business Council president Graham Bradley called on it to release all modelling and revenue estimates by the Henry tax review, and spell out its plans for tax reform.

Mr Bradley joined the independent MPs in insisting the government should not rule out tax options at this stage. "You can't have a tax summit without having all the options on the table," he told the National Press Club. The government excluded the GST from the Henry review's terms of reference, fearing the political fallout if it proposed an increase.

Other priorities for the first 100 days should include:

Setting out a plan of reforms to encourage better use of existing infrastructure, open up opportunities for private investment in infrastructure, and identify priority projects that would lift productivity.

Develop a national energy security policy as a way to build consensus for an emissions trading scheme. Nuclear power should be one of the long-term policy options.

Reduce the Council of Australian Governments' agenda to give it "a sharper focus on a smaller number of reform areas with the greatest potential to drive productivity growth".

Set up a Commission of Budget Integrity to assess whether spending programs provide value for money. He denied that this would duplicate the work of the Finance Department and the Auditor-General.