Ken Henry has given a tip to highlight today’s dysfunctional political environment.
If you have a bright policy idea, don’t try and a convince a politician of its virtues.
“It will be dead within 24 hours,” National Australia Bank’s chairman and former Treasury secretary told a conference in Canberra on Thursday.
In a speech to the Committee for Economic Development of Australia, a clearly frustrated Dr Henry lashed out at the state of politics today, which he says is in stark contrast to earlier periods of policy success.
Then politics was adversarial and every bit as partisan, but tribal tensions within parties were generally well managed and the political contest appeared to energise policy, “not kill it”.
He said almost every major infrastructure project announced in every Australian jurisdiction in the past 10 years had been the subject of political wrangling.
Not one program shared support of the coalition, Labor and the Greens during the last election.
“Every government proposal of the last 10 years to reform the tax system has failed,” he said.
He also questioned why government continues to go through the motions of the five-yearly intergenerational report, which he help start when at Treasury in 2002 and are supposed to be a blueprint for future planning.
“Why have these intergenerational reports, why do all this work, why publish this stuff if you are not going to do anything with it?” Dr Henry said.
“I don’t think we have made any progress at all in the past 15 years.”
He described climate change policy as a “shambles”, and rather than being politically led, business should be asking itself the question: “Can we do this ourselves?”
KEN HENRY’S HIT LIST OF LONG-OVERDUE REFORMS
* Apolitical infrastructure planning, including the widespread use of road-user charging.
* A much lower company tax rate achieved more quickly than the 10-year plan under consideration.
* The removal of stamp duties on residential property.
* Tax treatment reform of interest and capital gains.
* An overhaul of state-based royalties.
* Market-based price signals to guide climate change mitigation and long term investment in the energy sector.
* A broader base and higher rate of GST.
* A substantial adjustment to roles and responsibilities between the commonwealth and the states.