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Prime Minister Tony Abbott needs to contain the backbiting and discontent in the higher reaches of his government. AAP/Lukas Coch

Grattan on Friday: Being a ‘better government’ will be a big job

After getting a serious bollocking from Ray Hadley on Thursday, Tony Abbott told the Sydney shock jock that he’s determined to be “a better prime minister with a better government and a more effective…
To prevent future pain, the government can’t put off tough decisions on tax. Lukas Coch/AAP

Why it’s time to hike the GST and levy an inheritance tax

The government’s recent budget outlook (MYEFO) confirmed that the Australian government budget is rotten at the core. The government is hopelessly living beyond its means, with expenditure greater than…
Clive Palmer was totally opposed to the government’s ‘'direct action’‘ climate policy only a few months ago. Now he’s voting for it. AAP/Alan Porritt

Grattan on Friday: Abbott government gets some wins – and gives the odd hostage to the future

In a move that channels John Howard, Tony Abbott has put changing the GST on the political agenda, just over a year after assuring the public it would not be altered, “full stop, end of story”. In the…
A review of federalism and taxation should begin with recognising the value of what we have created as a nation. Flickr/Ross Thomson

Why we should consider ourselves a nation first, a federation second

The reform of Australia’s federation is under review. So far in our special series, leading Australian academics have discussed the future of the federation when it comes to taxation, education and health…
The way we are governed has changed radically from the world of the Constitutional founders. Flickr/Alison Young

Renewing Australian federalism

The reform of Australia’s federation is under review, with a White Paper process currently underway. In partnership with the Australian National University’s Tax and Transfer Policy Institute at the Crawford…
There have been instances of successful federalism - how do we return to these? Flickr/

How we can reinvigorate the Australian Federation

When our two major levels of government work in partnership, our Federation can function well. The standout period for cooperative federalism was the Hawke/Keating term of government, producing the National…
An unintended consequence of competitive federalism has led states to abandon high benefit-cost ratio projects for inferior ones. AAP/Alan Porritt

Beggar bowl politics blocks Federation’s potential

Calls to lift the GST rate to placate the states financial challenges will serve to only exacerbate an already severe vertical fiscal imbalance and prolong a deeply unsatisfactory chapter in Australia’s…
Realistic reforms to federal-state financial relations are possible with the right amount of political will. AAP/Alan Porritt

Could ‘hard budget constraints’ fix the federation’s fiscal feud?

The federal budget reignited debate over federal-state relations with a decision to cut $80 billion funding for the state responsibilities of schools and hospitals over the coming years. So how can federal-state…
Most Australians already fail to meet the recommended daily intake of fruit and vegetables. Strikkelise/Flickr

Adding GST to fresh food is a recipe for poor health

Recent calls by Australian government ministers and senior officials to broaden the goods and services tax (GST) base to include fresh fruit and vegetables would make the population’s diet go from bad…
Australia’s state premiers are avoiding a GST discussion. Daniel Munoz/AAP

GST reform a golden opportunity, soon to be missed by the states

This past Tuesday was another bad day for Australian federalism: the Abbott government’s first budget announced the axing of the COAG Reform Council and the withdrawal of a promised A$80 billion from health…
Ever thus… there is a quite a history of the federal government pulling funding from the states. AAP/Alan Porritt

Funding stoush between the states and feds not so new

The states have some justification in being annoyed about being stripped of $80 billion worth of federal funding for health and education funding. These programs were negotiated on the basis of shared…
New Zealand has increased its GST several times since it was introduced, so why does Australia find it so hard? Image sourced from

Easy as, bro - raising the GST, New Zealand style

When long-time Kiwi expat John Clarke was asked why he left New Zealand, he said: “Because it was there.” Clarke at least knew what being “there” meant, in contrast to most of his new compatriots, whose…
Go on Joe, raise the GST. Daniel Munoz/AAP

Raise the GST: the conversation we have to have?

With eight months left on his contract, Treasury Secretary Martin Parkinson decided to jump into the GST debate on Wednesday night. In a speech to the Sydney Institute, Parkinson declared the federal budget…
It’s likely the states will get their way when it comes to reducing the GST threshold for online goods. Flickr/Kawaiikiri

Lowering the GST import threshold will require careful political management

The push from the states to reduce the GST threshold on imported goods is being driven by a desire for a bigger pool of GST revenue and in spite of the inevitable backlash from consumers, they will get…
The federal government has come under increasing pressure to lower the GST threshold for online purchases as sales continue to rise and revenue continues to be lost. AAP/Alan Porritt

States' push for GST on online shopping is just small change

Both Labor and Coalition states are pushing the federal government to extend the GST to more online purchases as they look for additional sources of revenue. And while the Coalition had promised no changes…
Consumption of fruits and vegetables can be expected to fall if their price goes up. shaun/Flickr

Taxing fresh foods could have a big, bad health impact

A simmering discussion about Australia’s goods and services tax (GST) flared up again straight after the election, with WA Premier Colin Barnett arguing for an increase in the GST rate and a broadening…
Tony Abbott won’t raise the GST without a voter mandate - a smart move if he wants it to succeed. AAP

Increase the GST to 20%? Yes, but I wouldn’t recommend it

It looks like the GST will feature prominently in yet another election. The government is running a scare campaign on whether the Coalition will raise the GST after the election. In the meantime Tony Abbott…
Despite much debate over the scope and efficiency of the GST, the major political parties have left the possibility of reform off the agenda. Image from

The GST debate: is reform necessary?

Few taxes have been as politically fraught as the GST. The deal, brokered by the-then Prime Minister John Howard and the Democrats in 2000, was not only controversial for its political ramifications, but…

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