Is Scott Morrison up to the job?

The Age reported Treasurer Scott Morrison as saying “I want Australians to be able to earn more, but I also want them to take home more from what they earn. I would prefer to leave it to them how they choose to spend, save and invest the money that they earn.”

This is code for the old right-wing economic mantra of “government is not going to increase expenditure on social services such as health, Social welfare, pensions and education. There may be minor tax cuts but individual taxpayer will need to pay for the services they require. Government needs to get out of the way.”

But Scott Morrison is not one of the government straight talkers.

Here is an extract from his appearance on 7.30 with Leigh Sales

LEIGH SALES:  Doesn’t there have to be a situation where the compensation does not meet the revenue of the exact amount of revenue you’re making from the tax?

SCOTT MORRISON: Well if everybody was working and if everybody paying tax and you only were making the changes in the tax system, well that would be right, but the truth is not everybody is working, Leigh, and we have people who are dependent on fixed payments out of the income support, whether it’s on the aged pension or whether it’s on Newstart or family payments and so on, so … . But we have the experience of doing that. If you go back 15 years ago, this was a very unknown thing that was happening. It’s a much more known quantity now and the ability to tailor the adjustments, let’s call them that, to ensure you can achieve and ensure people remain in a strong position and in fact in a better position ’cause the only reason you’d do any of this is to make the system better and particularly for those who are out there working as hard as they can every day and we want to back them. That’s what our approach is and that’s what our objective is.

Blathermiester Scott Morrison tries to think up something to say about taxation reform
Blathermiester Scott Morrison tries to think up something to say about taxation reform

This was pretty much the way the entire interview was conducted: full of blather from Morrison.  if this is as good as the debate on taxation reform is going to get, we could be wandering around in the fog for some time

Joe Hockey’s problem was he wasn’t able to sell the government’s message. Actually, he did a good job of selling the message: “We have a debt and deficit problem” is what he constantly reiterated and everybody understood that.

It wasn't the messenger, it was the message that was wrong
It wasn’t the messenger, it was the message that was wrong

Hockey’s problem wasn’t that he didn’t sell the 2013 budget. The problem was it was unsaleable.

Now it’s up to Scott Morrison to sell the message and it seems as if it, (and the Treasurer), are a little bit muddled.

His insistence that we have a spending but not a revenue problem makes one wonder whether he actually understands his portfolio at all. Spending and revenue are two sides of the same coin.

A government may choose to address one or both of the problems.

But one thing is absolutely certain. It is that Australia is not raising enough revenue to cover the demands of an ageing population and the commitments made to large programs such as the NBN and disability insurance. In addition, spending on public education is woefully inadequate.

If the needs and aspirations of Australian people are to be met by government, then we’re all going to have to pay more tax to cover the expenditure.

Yet Morrison keeps saying that the overall tax take will not increase with taxation reform.

So what’s the point of reform? It may make the taxation system a bit more equitable but the problems run deeper than this.

And the major problem is that the Treasurer does not seem to understand this.

The government’s message should be really simple: “If the Australian people want better services, then everyone is going to have to pay more tax. We may be able to address the problem of who pays how much more through tax reform, but everybody will pay more.”

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