Barr 'shout-out' to other states to tackle tax reform
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Barr 'shout-out' to other states to tackle tax reform

The ACT government says that doing nothing on tax reform was not an option.

At yesterday's launch of the Quinlan tax review, Treasurer Andrew Barr said he and his colleagues had lost patience waiting for an agreement between the states and territories to phase out ''inefficient'' taxes.

The Treasurer also called on large states like Queensland NSW and Victoria to show leadership in the tax debate.

''This is not just an issue for the ACT, it's one that every jurisdiction is coming to terms with,'' Mr Barr said.

''Federal-state financial relations are broken, we all know that.

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''The GST base continues to erode, it's not rising as fast as the costs of delivering services are, so something has to give.

''On the question of whether the federal government might become engaged in this matter, ultimately they will have to.''

Mr Barr said that Mr Quinlan's review, which outlines a 10- to 20-year vision for radical reform of the territory's tax base, could prompt other jurisdictions into action after the inconclusive outcome of a tax summit in October between the states, the territories and the Commonwealth.

''This review might just provide the catalyst for state and territories taking a leadership role and doing something different in order to ensure the viability of service provision in this jurisdiction,'' Mr Barr said. ''I was disappointed with some of the outcomes out of the tax summit last year and I note that the PM has called a further economic summit for June, and I hope that having this review out there in the public domain will begin a genuine effort about tax reform in the country.

''I would like to think that some of the newly elected conservative governments with two- or three-term whopping majorities might actually stop being so timid and get in and engage in some tax reform too.

''This is a shout-out to them, that if a minority Labor government in an election year can embrace this sort of reform, then what the hell are NSW Victoria and Queensland doing in their first terms with such big majorities?''

Mr Barr also defended the delay in making Mr Quinlan's report public after then treasurer Katy Gallagher pledged last year to release the review for consultation as soon as it was complete. ''It's a substantive report and it makes many recommendations,'' Mr Barr said.

''I don't believe in fast-food politics and I think our need for instant gratification and what seems to roll through in a 24-hour news cycle is what's dumbing down political debate in this country.

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''So I've taken some time to look at these issues and put forward a thought-out and considered government response and then to move into the implementation phase.

''This is a 20-year reform agenda so I think it's entirely reasonable to spend a few months taking a look at the detail.''

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