As I argued in a recent column, the Coalition has been a policy free zone for some time. Of course it’s been in government, so of necessity it’s had lots of policies. But it’s heart has not been in them – it’s jadedly presided over a jaded bureaucracy.
This spilled over into a campaign in which the Government’s inevitable scare campaign (I’m not blaming it – all Governments run scare campaigns against their opponents) was a kind of ‘cultural’ scare campaign. Labor’s shadow ministry was union dominated and they would ‘stuff’ our economy. But just as the Liberals took credit for the economy without saying much about what particular economic policy or policies of theirs were responsible for all the good times, so their scare campaign about how Labor would stuff the economy was free of policy content.
The result was that unlike elections in the 1980s and 90s, Labor wasn’t backed into the corner of promising not to do a whole lot of things – like change the tax system, end negative gearing, or introduce a wealth tax and so on. Now of course it will be cautious, but I think there are oodles of small things it could do with relatively little long term damage. For instance the tax code allows the companies I run to give gifts to employees and other business associates which are deductible. This used to be capped at $100 and this cap was recently increased to $300 – presumably tracking the price of a bottle of Grange (Ok – a glass of Grange).
Anyway, there’s no more justification for this than there is for the practice of deducting a boozy lunch. It’s personal consumption and it should occur after income and consumption tax is paid, not before. Labor put a stop to the boozy lunch rort in the 1980s. (And remember all that you hear about the way the Liberals provided the ALP with bipartisan support for reform in the 1980s. Well not on FBT and CGT they didn’t.) You can still deduct meal costs when you’re travelling, but you can’t deduct grog – a very sensible rule no doubt appreciated by tax-payers.
I hope Troppodillians can supply a good list of other small savings proposals so I can shamelessly pinch the best ideas. (They won’t be acknowledged in the column – there isn’t room – but they will be acknowledged here.) Why for the best proposal, if I use it, I’ll send you a gift in the mail – with GST duly claimed and costs deducted from Lateral Economics’ income at this end! Our own little party before that little tax dodge is over.