State income taxes and the new race to the bottom

Tony Shepherd is an overpaid fat cat who wants job cuts.

Tony Shepherd is the former chair of Abbott's National Audit Commission, former president of the Business Council of Australia, a right-wing lobby group that represents some of the biggest corporations in Australia and a former member of the board of directors of Transfield, the company that profits from the misery of asylum seeks locked up in Australia's offshore refugee detention camps.

Apart from that he has been an over-paid fat cat for conservative governments. Shepherd is the embodiment of the greed and evil of corporate rich.

He's also one of the fat cats who think ordinary people are stupid. I heard him on ABC Radio National applauding Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's plan to take up Shepherd's Audit Commission proposal to partially shift income tax powers back to state governments.

As the Australian Financial Review reported on March 30: "Malcolm Turnbull has given the green light for the states and territories to levy their own income taxes to fund health and other essential services over the long term, setting the scene for as many as eight different tax rates across the Federation.

"In a proposal to be put to leaders and treasurers at this week's Council of Australian Governments meeting, the Prime Minister will propose that from 2020 onwards, the Commonwealth reduces the rate of income tax, believed to be by 2 percentage points.

"The states will then levy an income tax equal to the Commonwealth deduction to ensure no overall increase in the income tax take.

"But critically, Mr Turnbull said the states would then be free to individually lift their own rate as they see fit if they need extra money for service provision."

Shepherd tried to argue that the objective of this proposal was to help state governments raise the funds they need to cover the costs of schools and hospitals. But it soon became apparent that the truth was just the opposite.

The corporate rich see in this a device to get states competing in a new race to the bottom: one in which each state outbids the other in an effort to cut taxation rates (especially for the richest) while further cutting essential social services.

The rich do not care if the quality of public health care and education decline. They have their elite private schools and private hospitals to look after their families.

Just as the Tony Shepherds of the world will never stop lying through their teeth to advance the greedy and destructive agenda of the giant corporations, Green Left Weekly will never stop exposing these lies. Our mission is to speak truth to power and to help empower the oppressed.

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