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Franking credits policy is coming back to bite Labor

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10.02.2019

Chris Bowen, the embattled shadow treasurer, is a student of Niccolo Machiavelli, so much so that he quoted the Italian sage in an op-ed for The Australian Financial Review to bolster his argument for tax reform.

Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen.Credit:AAP

"There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, more uncertain in its success to take the lead in a new order of things," wrote Machiavelli in his advice to politicians of the Florentine court 500 years ago.

You can say that again in this modern age of Australian entitlement, and corrosive politics.

In hindsight you wonder whether Bowen should have heeded – rather than amplified – Machiavelli’s advice, given the political costs that are accruing from his plan to end cash-back franking credits for low-income retirees.

Replay

He might, for example, have paid more attention to the second part of Machiavelli’s advice to reformers: "The reformer has enemies in all those who profit

by the old order and only lukewarm defenders in all those who would profit by the new order."

In this respect, Bowen would have reason to be disappointed that in his prosecution of his franking credits policy he has found himself a bit like Machiavelli himself in his period in exile, alone and unsupported by “lukewarm’’ colleagues who are ill-equipped to argue the complexities of tax........

© The Age