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Taxing times : a political retrospective


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Eccleston, RG 2002 , 'Taxing times : a political retrospective' , Australian Tax Forum, vol. 17 , pp. 287-312 .

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Two years after the introduction of the goods and services tax (GST) in Australia it is
perhaps timely to reflect on the broader political significance of Australia’s recent
experience in relation to tax reform. The goal here is not to comment on the
effectiveness of the new regime, but to provide an assessment of what the Australian
experience tells us about the tax policy process and the broader issue of the
governance of Australian economic policy. Can we interpret the eventual introduction
of a GST after thirty years of struggle as a maturing of Australian politics?
Alternatively, are the deadlocks and protracted political debates experienced in
relation to tax reform in recent years likely to persist as future governments attempt
to adapt the national tax base to the challenges of the 21st Century? The following
article will shed light on these issues by applying the political science literature to
identify the characteristics of the policy process which are likely to enable national
governments to achieve potentially contentious tax reform proposals. Having
established this framework, the study evaluates Australia’s experience in relation to
tax reform over the past thirty years. While the article notes several important
developments between the Asprey Inquiry of the mid-1970s and the introduction of
the Howard Government’s A new tax system in 2000, it is argued that a combination
of historical and institutional features of the Australian policy environment continue to
limit the governance capacity of the Australian state. The article concludes by
discussing the implications of this finding for the ongoing reform of Australia’s taxation

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Eccleston, RG
Journal or Publication Title: Australian Tax Forum
ISSN: 0812-695X
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