In welcoming the State Government’s courage to start a ‘fair dinkum’ debate on tax reform, Uniting Communities’ Chief Executive Simon Schrapel says the government needs to be held to account on its ability to achieve a balance in the measures to be considered.
‘In our view there are three principal tests for any reform – is it fair in ensuring the burden of payments falls on those who can most afford to pay; is it efficient in terms of its impact on the community; and, most importantly is it sufficient in securing enough revenue to meet community demand for essential public services.’
The greatest risk, according to Uniting Communities, is for a narrow debate where we have unseemly bidding to get rid of taxes that are essential for any state to provide for its citizens.
‘Our main fear is that we build community expectations that we can somehow afford to lessen taxation overall at a time when falling payments from the Commonwealth are already threatening to cripple South Australia’s finances,’ Mr Schrapel says. ‘We need to start by getting community agreement on the quantum of funds needed to provide key services in terms of public infrastructure, schools, health, affordable housing and community service programs.’
Uniting Communities, in preparing its response to the discussion paper, will also be emphasising the importance of not making changes which are regressive and place a greater burden on those least able to contribute.
‘We understand the importance of changing our taxation arrangements in ways that would provide an economic stimulus for the state and growth in jobs,’ says Mr Schrapel, ‘but in doing so let’s ensure those who are already financially vulnerable aren’t left to pick up the tab.’
For media comment:
Mr Simon Schrapel, Chief Executive Uniting Communities
0411 643 132