Ordinary people are just looking for a fair tax deal but when we read in the papers about bodies like "The Board of Taxation" which allegedly represents our "broader community perspective", as well as business, it just adds insult to injury. The Federal Government's little known tax advisory body is out there speaking on our behalf to legislators but did you even know they existed?
Today's article in the Fairfax media has pulled aside the curtain to reveal, in its full glory, the Federal Government's advisory body "The Board of Taxation": Scott Morrison's tax advisers want public 'educated' on low corporate tax, by Heath Aston, SMH, 28 January 2016
We'd never heard of it either so we visited their website, had a look at who was on the Board and the Advisory Panel, checked out their Charter and hurried back here to report on what we found.
Not a single member of the "broader community" is actually represented on the Board which is brimful of business people and lawyers from the big legal firms in addition to the required Canberra bureaucrats. We were hard pressed to find a member of the broader community on the longer list of people on the Advisory Panel either - please let us know if you spot any!
There's not a single consumer advocate (eg. Choice), worker advocate (eg. ACTU) or community advocate (eg. GetUp) to be seen, and no one from the Tax Justice Network Australia (a broad based community group of charities, unions and other civil society groups who are working on tax matters). Click here and have a look for yourself on The Taxation Board's very own website.
How did they manage to side-step the touted broader community? Here's the kicker in their Charter: Board members will be chosen "on the basis of their personal capacity ... to contribute at the highest level to the development of the tax system". They don't seem to think the broader community is smart enough to understand why it's so important to protect business from paying more tax, is our guess.
Speaking from a union perspective, we employ our own economists, legal experts, researchers, worker advocates, etc. We are very capable of contributing at the highest level to the development of the tax system, as the Charter describes. In fact, we've always been a major stakeholder in tax debates in the past, and will continue to be, despite not being on that particular Board.
It's hard enough for members of the general public to get involved in the democratic process, we ask our advocates to amplify our voices so we can be heard in public debates. This latest news of The Board of Taxation reveals the aspirations of ordinary Australians are not even getting a chair at that particular table. With talk swirling around an increase to the GST, we think that table is a pretty key one at the moment.
So now what's reported the Fairfax article makes sense: The Board of Taxation believes that the public needs to be educated about why business shouldn't pay more tax and has advised various bodies to begin a public relations exercise to that end.
Apparently a number of business bodies have taken The Board of Taxation's advice and are about to launch PR campaigns to explain to the broader community why those stories we've been hearing about recently, the ones listing all those public companies who paid no tax or little tax, those stories shouldn't worry us.
We, however, suspect that if the Board had equal representation from the broader community, their advice might sound a little different.
#ausunions #asunion #FairTax