The Prime Minister Julia Gillard says any tax reform needs to factor in Australia’s ageing population, the resources boom and the need to increase workforce participation.

Two hundred government, industry and community representitives are now in Canberra to debate possbile changes to a range of taxes including business and state taxes.

Daniela Sunde-Brown reports.


The Prime Minister says despite being buffeted by the ongoing effects of the GFC, the Australian economy is strong and presents a rich tapestry of opportunities.

Julia Gillard, Prime Minister: “I’m very much looking forward to the opportunity to discuss how we can build on the government’s very proud track record of tax return.”

Business groups at the forum were calling for the Federal Government to cut the corporate tax rate from around 30 per cent to 25 per cent.

Australian Greens leader Senator Bob Brown attacked that stance, saying big business is muffling the voices of their smaller counterparts.

Senator Brown says big banks and mining corporations should forgo any planned cuts in the company tax rate, and instead that small business should get a five per cent tax break.

Queensland Treasurer Andrew Fraser has requested greater harmonisation of state taxes such as payroll and land tax.

Andrew Fraser, Qld Treasurer: “I think tax reform is like world peace. Everybody agrees with it, it’s just the prospects for it’s always a bit remote.”

The Federal Opposition leader Tony Abbott says the forum is just a ‘pointless talk-fest’ as the GST, the mining and carbon taxes are not on the agenda.

Tony Abbott, Opposition Leader: “Just when you thought this government couldn’t get any worse, they have a tax summit that isn’t allowed to talk about Labor’s big new taxes.”

However, there was debate this morning about a push to increase GST rates, which divided federal and state treasurers, as well as some welfare groups at the forum.

Daniela Sunde-Brown, QUT News.