ASH­LEY MANICAROS ON THE TAX DE­BATE

Bal­lot box will be the ul­ti­mate de­cider and some­one will pay the price

NT News - - BUSINESS - ASH­LEY MANICAROS BUSINESS ED­I­TOR

“WHAT you do in life echoes in eter­nity.” It is a fa­mous line ut­tered by Ro­man gen­eral Max­imus from the movie Glad­i­a­tor be­fore he leads his troops into bat­tle.

For the Gun­ner La­bor Gov­ern­ment the eter­nity in this in­stance is the four-year elec­toral cy­cle of which they have started their sec­ond year.

If the eco­nomic down­turn doesn’t get us then death by a thou­sand re­views will.

Trea­surer Ni­cole Mani­son an­nounced an­other one yes­ter­day to go with a heap al­ready un­der­way or com­pleted, plus a few eco­nomic sum­mits thrown in.

This one is se­ri­ous and should be taken se­ri­ously on both sides of the po­lit­i­cal fence — vot­ers and fifth floor staffers alike should be ner­vous be­cause in a lit­tle un­der three years we will be judg­ing the con­se­quences of what we did at the bal­lot box and some­one will pay the price.

There is lit­tle doubt some big de­ci­sions on the eco­nomic front have to be taken by the Gun­ner Gov­ern­ment.

Hav­ing now painted it­self into a cor­ner with on­shore gas, it now faces the prospect of try­ing to re­build de­pleted rev­enue streams with al­ter­nate mech­a­nisms. Hence the dis­cus­sion pa­per look­ing at re­or­gan­is­ing our col­lec­tion, with­out be­ing seen to en­cour­age an in­dus­try which at its worst will gen­er­ate $29 mil­lion in roy­alty rev­enue.

Only one per­son has re­ally suc­cess­fully al­tered our rev­enue land­scape and sur­vived at the bal­lot box, and that was John Howard when he cre­ated the Goods and Ser­vices Tax that all the states are now so re­liant on.

Yes, a few have tried to play around the edges with rate re­duc­tions here or roy­alty sys­tems there.

But noth­ing like he did. Love it or hate it. It ex­ists.

The Gov­ern­ment wants to share some of the blame for change by get­ting in­dus­try in­volved. It will help min­imise it­self as a tar­get by de­flect­ing to them. And in­dus­try may play along but given only three turned up to their brief­ing yes­ter­day and one of those was a union, I’m not sure how stand­ing side-by-side more tax is go­ing to fit with business.

Some of the ar­eas be­ing can­vassed clearly need change. The roy­alty sys­tems in place are not even in how they share the bur­den. As a con­se­quence we see a few of the gen­uine com­pa­nies like New­mont do­ing the heavy lift­ing of oth­ers.

Pay­roll tax may well be on the radar but the prob­a­bil­ity of it be­ing re­duced even with in­cen­tives seems highly un­likely.

In any event those it seeks to pun­ish are Inpex fo­cused and will be gone within 18months.

Bank­ing fees, in­sur­ance du­ties, in­creased regis­tra­tions and the grandaddy of them all — a land tax — will im­pact the voter and the con­sumer.

Full credit to the Trea­surer for in­clud­ing the land tax.

But a land tax will pun­ish those who are set­tled here and un­rav­el­ling first home­buyer schemes or com­ing up with new schemes makes it a chal­lenge. The business com­mu­nity is get­ting rest­less. Very rest­less.

It be­lieves in the fu­ture of the NT but what it is see­ing at the mo­ment it doesn’t like — and it wants more than this.

Pic­ture: GLENN CAMP­BELL

Trea­surer Ni­cole Mani­son faces the me­dia af­ter de­liv­er­ing her maiden Bud­get

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