Flat White

Politics triumphs over all

24 August 2018

2:31 PM

24 August 2018

2:31 PM

Big businesses in Australia will not be getting their small tax cuts eight years in the future. That money will instead be ‘invested’ in health and education, along with any other spare dollar government can scrape together between now and then — and never you mind whether that’s good value for money or not.

The merits of company tax modelling have been debated since the last election, but no-one even bothers to ask whether health or education spending is efficient or effective. It’s popular and that is enough.

Of course had you not been paying close attention, you may not even have noticed the company tax cuts finally officially failed. All the focus and interest in policy has been sucked up by politics. Again.

CIS Board Member Alison Watkins noted ‘it’s really disappointing to see this instability’, particularly its effect on beneficial policies. I would go further: it’s deeply frustrating that policy development in this country has been held hostage for a decade by the kind of infighting and naked politicking that would embarrass student politicians.

It is not the role of a think tank to critique the merits of selecting one political leader over another. The CIS has always sent its research to decision makers of any political stripe, and indeed to anyone who might be interested in it. We will continue to do so in the future.

But too many good policies have been lost because politicians advocating for or against them have put base political considerations before good policy development. The case for company tax cuts is one of the more compelling in economic theory, yet the extent to which this debate has been hijacked by economic illiteracy is all too familiar.

Evidence backed, expert led policy is treated the same as something scribbled on a napkin on a flight back to Canberra. It would be one thing if the level of scrutiny applied to company tax cuts was applied to all government decision making — many popular but expensive programs would be cut — but it’s not.

Policy scrutiny too is only applied for political reasons. However, at some point it would behove those pursuing personal political goals to think about the national interest. After all, that is supposed to be the point.

Simon Cowan is Research Manager at the Centre for Independent Studies.

This item originally appeared in the CIS’ Ideas at the Centre.

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