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Jericho Jim hits the airwaves -

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Jericho Jim hits the airwaves

The World Today - Friday, 14 November , 2008 12:46:00

ELEANOR HALL: An outback Queensland farmer was launched into the public eye this week by the
Treasury Secretary Ken Henry.

The man who was referred to as Jericho Jim offered the Treasury Secretary Ken Henry some advice
about taxes in an outback Queensland pub earlier this year.

And Mr Henry has indicated that barstool advice could factor in an overhaul of the tax system.

Now the tax advisor who is not revealing his name has taken to the airwaves at the ABC in Brisbane
as Nicole Butler reports.

NICOLE BUTLER: The man dubbed "Jericho Jim" by Australia's Head of Treasury remembers meeting a
nice man from the Government a few months back in the pub.

JERICHO JIM: I think I bought him a beer and he bought me one back. I wasn't too sure what I was
going to tell him who I was and he wasn't too sure he was going to tell me who he was.

KEN HENRY: I said I work for Government in Canberra. Perhaps I sounded a bit defensive because he
responded "that's all right mate, somebody has to," and then he added "just so long as you don't
have anything to do with tax".

NICOLE BUTLER: Of course Ken Henry runs the nation's tax system but he didn't let on.

JERICHO JIM: He was a little bit evasive. I think he just there and actually listened.

NICOLE BUTLER: But as Mr Henry hinted at a tax system overhaul in a speech to the Press Club this
week - it was obvious he'd done more than listen.

KEN HENRY: "Do you know", he said, "that something as ordinary as fencing wire can be treated
several different ways for tax purposes? Why was it treated one way under income tax but another
way under GST?" he wanted to know. "Isn't fencing wire just fencing wire?"

JERICHO JIM: Well fencing wire is just fencing wire, right. You know, if someone, if a property
owner goes and builds a new fence, right, it should be 100 per cent tax deduction for him. It
shouldn't be put down as repairs or anything like that. No farmer should have to cheat on the tax
system. It should be just straight black and white.

NICOLE BUTLER: Jim had owned a number of cattle stations and a few years ago he'd had a dispute
with the tax office that ultimately settled in his favour.

The grazier told the Treasury boss the trouble is the system is unnecessarily complex so Ken Henry
took a long hard look at the tax act.

The self-confessed greenie had a lot of time to think about it as he travelled back to Canberra
from outback Queensland - where he had been saving hairy-nosed wombats.

KEN HENRY: It turns out there are more taxes in Australia than there are northern hairy-nosed
wombats. There are approximately 5,700 pages of income tax legislation.

JERICHO JIM: It is too complex. They are turning farmers into cheats.

NICOLE BUTLER: Jim didn't stop with just outlining what's wrong with the system - he also offered
Mr Henry some solutions.

KEN HENRY: With Jim going on to explain his preference for being taxed on the difference between
cash coming in the door and cash going out the door.

He thought this might make a lot of sense and it might make more sense than the complex and
uncertain system that is currently in place.

NICOLE BUTLER: We still don't know his real name and the man dubbed Jericho Jim didn't know the
whole of Australia was looking for him, thanks to his new fame.

But he happily offered more advice when he was interviewed for the first time on ABC radio in
Brisbane this morning

Jim says more government heads should follow Mr Henry's lead.

JERICHO JIM: They need to get out into country Queensland and talk about policy and talk to normal
people everywhere all over Australia.

ELEANOR HALL: Nicole Butler in Brisbane with that report.