Think-tank’s ‘orange book’ offers policy advice ahead of election

By Jackson Graham

March 1, 2022

The 2022 Grattan Institute orange book has suggestions for policy reform. ( AWD/Adobe)

Australia’s tax system, housing supply and the federal government’s transparency and accountability are among major policy focuses for a think-tank ahead of the 2022 federal election. 

The Grattan Institute has released its “orange book” – a collection of policy recommendations, and a play on the red and blue-coloured books public servants prepare ahead of elections for incoming Liberal or Labor governments. 

The institute’s latest book calls for reforms to Australia’s tax system, including a broader or higher GST and opportunities for state governments to swap stamp duties for land taxes. 

“Stamp duties are inefficient taxes: they discourage people from moving to housing that better suits their needs, and they discourage people from moving to better jobs,” the report says. 

“In contrast, land taxes do not distort decisions about land use, provided they apply in a way that the landowner can’t avoid.” 

The think-tank also proposes to tackle home ownership and homelessness head on, advising a 40% increase to the maximum rate of commonwealth rent assistance, a rise in Jobseeker payments by $75 a week, and a $20 billion social housing future fund. 

The social housing fund “could make regular capital grants to state governments and community housing providers”, the report says, and be enabled with federal debt at long maturities. 

On the health and education front, the report calls for a reduction in out-of-pocket costs for medical specialists and dentists, and financial incentives to draw “high achievers” to the teaching profession to lift student performance and learning quality. 

“A higher-achieving teacher workforce would give the typical Australian student an extra six-to-12 months of learning by year 9, possibly much more,” the report says. 

Integrity reforms were a theme of the Grattan Institute’s 2019 book, but calls for a federal integrity commission have appeared for a second year after the government failed to legislate a new anti-corruption watchdog. 

The influence of money and lobbying from vested interests remain “very weak” according to the 2022 report, amd few checks exist on government appointments or using taxpayer money for buying political advantage. 

“With these weaknesses, the absence of a ‘last line of defence’ from a strong federal integrity commission is magnified,” the report says.


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