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Our last chance in a generation for genuine tax reform may be about to disappear

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A U S 1 R Λ M A N C II A Μ B E R O F C O Μ M H R C H A N D I N D U S ! R Y

MEDIA RELEASEImmediate May 14,1999Qjujst C r-Our Last Chance in a Generation for Genuine Tax Reform May be about to Disappear Ία- a /Statement by Mark Paterson, Chief ExecutiveSenator Harradine’s disappointing statement that he cannot support a GST has now put at risk the entire process of tax reform.If the Government’s tax reform package does not pass in its present form, Australia will almost certainly have lost the opportunity for major tax reform for at least a generation.The stakes have been high. Either a creaking tax system at least twenty years past its use-by date. Or the introduction of a new tax system which recognises that the burden of our indirect taxes can no longer rest on such a disjointed and complex system.This is a tax package which is comprehensive in its range of reforms. It deals with and solves a host of existing problems from the distortions embedded in the existing tax system through to the currently unbalanced system of federal-state financial relations. The states will be deeply disappointed if this tax reform package does not succeed.Business will not support a GST with piecemeal and unwieldy exemptions. It will not support a tax reform which is as complex and difficult to administer as the one we are trying to get rid of.The question is now whether we will have this tax package or just continue with a package which will leave Australia in a more vulnerable position in international trade and which will be unable to raise sufficient levels of revenue to maintain our level of public services and welfare expenditure.The potential damage to confidence of not passing this package which has been sought by business over many years places our current economic position at great risk.The Labor Party will now have to reassess its position. If it wishes to help create a more productive Australia for the future, then it will have to act now and work with the present Government to achieve the tax reform everyone perfectly well understands this economy needs.For further comment, please contact: Mr Mark PatersonChief Executive02 6273 2311 (B/H) 0419 215 037 (mobile)Mr John Martin 02 6273 2311 (B/H) Executive Director 0418 625 450 (A/H)\\cbr_servef\corp\m edii\1999\mr no 20-99.doc MR 20 / 99 L E A D I N G A U S T R A L I A N B U S I N E S S