It’s definitely OK to talk about tax and a bigger state

2 Aug: It was a dark and stormy Melbourne wintry night, but over 100 ALP stalwarts attended a Fabians led rigorous tax event. Quite a few came along with their own proposals in hand.

MPs Terri Butler and Andrew Giles discussed tax reform with Alison McClelland (former Productivity Commissioner). Some take home stories were:

  • Tax is about how we see ourselves in relationship to others (present and future generations). 
  • Tax must be central to our core vision.
  • Inequality is getting worse. 
  • We think progressive taxes are good. We must be bolder at telling this story.
  • Inequality is in particular worsening in Anglophone countries, due to our tax policies. Inequality is bad for wealth for all.
  • A lá Thomas Picketty - power reproduces; rising asset prices result in an increasing accumulation of wealth and falling share going to wages and increases inequality; the relationship between social, political and financial inequality is tight.
  • Our moral position is key. Exactly what tax mechanisms will bring about a fairer Australia is a technical question. It must include the unions.
  • The ALP is doing good policy work on negative gearing, deductions cap for income management, trusts crackdown.
  • Avoid the language of the right. Stop talking about tax payers’ money. Talk about public money.
  • Avoid Rule-In-Rule-Out rules.  We need discussion and debate, not confected outrage.

Thanks to the Fabians, as always, carving out space for social democratic discussion and policy development.

Terri Butler is the QLD Federal Member for Griffith; and Shadow Assistant Minister for Family Violence and Child Safety; Universities; and Equality.

Andrew Giles is the VIC Federal Member for Scullin (north outer metro region); and Shadow Assistant Minister for Schools.

Download Terri and Andrew’s essay.