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Australia Promised Full Debate On Tax Review

Monday, March 15, 2010

Following indications that the Australian government was thinking of a delay to the release of the Henry tax review, the Treasurer, Wayne Swan, has now confirmed that it will be issued in good time for a full debate on any proposed tax changes.

The government received the tax review at the end of last year, and said that it would consider the review for release early in 2010, along with an initial official response. The review, it had said, would lay the foundations for a 10-year plan for reform. Its release has also been widely anticipated as it has caused uncertainty in some areas, particularly in the mineral resources sector where there has been speculation of an increase in mining taxation.

However, earlier this month, following the announcement of the government’s far-reaching health and hospital reforms, the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, was reported as saying that he was now too involved and busy also to complete the details of the government’s reaction to the tax review, and that there was no target date for its release.

Various parties, however, continued to call for its early release, if only to allay the speculation about its contents and about which of its recommendations will eventually be taken up by the government. It seems that, under pressure, the government has had to react.

In fact, in a radio interview, Wayne Swan confirmed that, while the government was still pursuing its evaluation process, the tax review and the government’s initial response would be published “in plenty of time for a full public discussion about all of the issues raised.”

On being pressed on timing, he added that: “There will be plenty of time to discuss the review of the independent tax committee. There will be a full public debate in this country before the election.”