ASHLEY MANICAROS ON THE TAX DEBATE
Ballot box will be the ultimate decider and someone will pay the price
“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.
Treasurer Nicole Manison faces the media after delivering her maiden Budget