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The great diversion: election arguments about tax

1 1 0
16.04.2019

No one’s more interested in taxation than me, but there’s got to be more to this election campaign than claims about which side is high taxing and which low taxing, and interminable arguments and scare campaigns about franking credits and negative gearing.

Fortunately, the nation’s best and most independent think-tank, the Grattan Institute, has taken a much broader view of the issues to which the winning side should pay most attention in its Commonwealth Orange Book (an allusion to the red book and the blue book that the public service prepares to present to whichever side wins).

Illustration: Simon LetchCredit:

To help voters put the election issues into context, however, Grattan starts by comparing our performance on a broad range of indicators with nine comparable countries.

On standard of living – measured by gross national income per person – our $62,800 a year is well behind the United States ($75,900) and less behind the Netherlands ($68,100), Germany ($66,900) and Sweden ($64,900), but ahead of Canada ($57,300), Britain ($54,900), Japan ($54,300), New Zealand ($48,800) and South Korea ($48,400).

So we’re in the middle of the pack of rich countries. We can afford high quality public services (paid for by moderately high taxes) and afford to treat the disadvantaged with consideration.

But, despite all the times Scott........

© Brisbane Times