PwC chief calls for bipartisan approach

PriceWaterhouseCoopers’ Luke Sayers. Photo: James DaviesThe chief executive of one of Australia’s biggest accounting firms has called on the major political parties to strike a ”grand bargain” on national tax reform, warning the country may otherwise fail to record a federal surplus for ”at least a generation”.

PwC Australia head Luke Sayers said Australia needed to develop a bipartisan tax reform agenda – one that could survive the political cycle if it wanted to confront serious budgetary problems.

And both sides of politics needed to stop ruling things out – such as the GST – when considering tax reforms.

”Without spending constraint, and tax reform, we can abandon the hope of seeing another federal surplus for at least a generation,” Mr Sayers said. ”A dialogue that begins with people ruling things out of scope is a dialogue doomed to failure, and we’ve seen it quite simply too many times before.”

Part of the reason the Henry tax review did not succeed was that the GST was excluded.

Mr Sayers suggested two changes could be made to the tax system immediately that would put Australia in a stronger position.

”[We] should rely more heavily on consumption and land taxes, and less on corporate and personal taxes, stamp duty, taxation of insurance, and payroll taxes in their current form,” Mr Sayers said.

”[And] taxes need to be more uniformly applied with fewer exemptions and concessions. These two changes alone would help address some of the major economic and fiscal challenges facing us today.”

Former Treasury deputy secretary Mike Callaghan said politicians and some sections of the media needed to stop talking about taxation in negative terms.

”As we’ve seen, an extremely effective way to attack a policy proposal is not to debate it on its merits but just say ‘it’s nothing more than a big new tax’,” he said.

”An extremely effective way to attack any suggestion of a tax review is just to say it’s nothing but a hidden agenda to lift taxes.”

He said a critical precondition for a proper debate about tax was public ”trust” in a government’s ability to make spending decisions.

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Brian Cookson delighted with Australian support for UCI presidency

Brian Cookson, the English challenger to Irishman Pat McQuaid for the presidency of the Union Cycliste Internationale, has pledged to not take for granted Australia’s support for him in next month’s election.

Cycling Australia announced on Monday that it will vote for Cookson, rather than the incumbent, McQuaid in the election that will be held during the world road championships in Florence, Italy late next month.

CA’s position was decided on Sunday after the CA board heard an address from Cookson in person in Sydney on Saturday morning, then held a teleconference with McQuaid in the afternoon.

The vote in favour of Cookson was unanimous, CA president Klaus Mueller told Fairfax Media on Monday. Ten out of 11 board members had attended the meeting, which extended into Sunday.

Mueller, who announced on Saturday that he would stand down as CA president at the end of September, said it was also likely that Oceania’s collective position would be the same.

The UCI presidency will be voted on by the UCI Congress. Of 42 votes, Oceania’s three go to Australia, New Zealand and Fiji.

“We are supporting Cookson. It was unanimous with all [CA] board members present,” Mueller said.

Cookson, who arrived in Sydney on Friday, is on a world tour to garner support for his candidacy, in an election fight that has seen McQuaid remain defiant in his efforts to be re-elected despite growing calls for him to step aside following the Lance Armstrong doping scandal.

In a tight vote, the support of Australia, New Zealand and Fiji could be critical for Cookson, British Cycling president, or McQuaid, who no longer has the nomination of Ireland or Switzerland, but is still seeking nomination of the Moroccan and Thai federations through his membership with them.

“I’m really pleased about it, very happy. And I’m hopeful I’ll get the three votes,” Cookson told Fairfax Media on Monday after learning of CA’s position and the likely backing from New Zealand and Fiji.

“It’s been a worthwhile visit and I’m very happy to have been here and looking forward to being able to deliver the things we have been talking about [in his campaign manifesto].

“Oceania has three votes out of the 42 – all those 42 are important. I wouldn’t dream of taking any of them for granted. That’s why I have come here.

“I think it’s important to get around the world and speak to as many people as you can. I am grateful the Oceania delegates and Cycling Australia wanted me to come and were happy to meet with me.

“I made a similar offer to the Asian confederation, for instance, and their president said they didn’t want me to attend, [that] they had already made their mind up and were going to vote for Pat McQuaid.

“I said, ‘Fine, that’s your choice and I respect that, but I really would still like to keep that open and let me know if and when you change your mind. Maybe we will talk in Florence.’ I think that will happen.”

Mueller said there were two key points in Cookson’s address on Saturday that convinced the CA board he was better suited to be UCI president than McQuaid, who has held the post since 2006.

“We felt [Cookson] was in a better position to restore the reputation and integrity of the UCI and the sport internationally,” Mueller said.

“Also he agreed he would do everything in his power to improve the governance structures, to make those more accountable and efficient and reflect what a modern sporting body should look like.”

Twitter: @rupertguinness

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It could’ve been handled better: Boof

England has a wee party

Australian coach Darren Lehmann says the umpires could have handled better the tense finale to the fifth Test that led to play being abandoned for bad light and Michael Clarke in a physical confrontation with Pakistani official Aleem Dar.

Dar was seen to push the visiting captain away from him and fellow umpire Kumar Dharmasena as they checked the reading on a light meter that would lead them seconds later, at 7.36pm, to call off the day’s play with the Test ending in a draw and England taking the series 3-0.

England at the time were only 21 runs short of victory, with four overs remaining following a sporting declaration at tea from Clarke that left the hosts a target of 227 from 44 overs.

Clarke was frustrated at the time it took for the light meter to be brought onto the ground by fourth official Richard Kettleborough, believing conditions were significantly darker than when a day’s play was stopped on the fourth afternoon of the third Test at Old Trafford, when he was batting.

The International Cricket Council is likely to review the altercation between Dar and Clarke, who asked the umpire not to touch him.

”It could have been handled better by the umpires,” Lehmann said. ”But at the end of the day we’ve had light issues throughout the series. If you’ve got a reading you’ve got to take it.”

Clarke and the umpires were booed at the presentation afterwards by the home fans but Lehmann was quick to remind them that it was his captain’s ploy that allowed the last session of the series to be so engaging rather than simply fizzle out to a draw.

”We were quite happy to lose a game to set up the game,” Lehmann said. ”English fans have been great all summer but to come out and see that on the last day I think it is outstanding from Michael and the set-up that we tried to do. That’s the brand of cricket we want to play. We want to push the boundaries.”

Explaining the contact with Dar, Clarke said: ”I can’t remember what I said. I remember Aleem touching me and I asked him politely to not touch me because if I touched him I’d be suspended for three matches.”

The light meter reading at The Oval on Sunday was 5.7 while at Manchester it was 8.1 – the lower the figure, the darker the conditions. Despite the anti-climax the umpires followed the regulations on light to the letter of cricket’s laws when they stopped play at 7.36pm. They were left with no option but to abandon the match when the light meter reading dropped to a level matching or below the figure that led to play being called off on day two last Thursday at 7.26pm. This was despite the floodlights being on.

However, the chairman of the English and Wales Cricket Board, Giles Clarke, said after the match that the laws regarding bad light must change.

”It is totally unsatisfactory the way the game ended – the rules are unacceptable and I expect [ICC general manager] Dave Richardson to change it at the next ICC chief executives meeting,” he said.

Australia have gone nine matches without a win, a streak that stretches back to January, and dropped to fifth in the world Test rankings behind Pakistan, but Lehmann hopes they can turn it around in the return Ashes series this summer.

”I think it’s that learning-to-win attitude,” said Lehmann, who only took over as coach and selector a fortnight before the series. ”That’s what we tried to do [on Sunday]. We want to keep challenging our players in those situations to get better, learn from the mistakes we make. We’re going to make mistakes, we understand that. But we’ve got to improve from there.”

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England has a wee party

The Ashes has ended in a double spray – one from The Oval crowd towards Michael Clarke, and one in the early hours from the England players on the pitch.

Clarke was loudly booed by the capacity crowd after the fifth day of the fifth Test was abandoned as a draw due to bad light with England needing 21 runs in four overs to complete an historic 4-0 series win.

It was the visiting captain who had risked defeat by setting up the exciting finish with a bold declaration at tea, but after remonstrating with umpires about the fading light it was he who was the target of spectators’ frustration when he came to the stage at the presentation ceremony on Sunday evening.

The distasteful scenes did not stop there. Four hours later, England celebrated their retention of the Ashes trophy and replica urn for a third straight series by urinating on The Oval pitch.

After relocating their post-match party from the dressing room to the field, several players including Stuart Broad and Kevin Pietersen took turns to get up from where they were sitting and wander over to relieve themselves on the pitch. Cleaning staff and other venue employees were still present at the ground at the time.

The controversial finale to England’s 3-0 series victory came as tension escalated between the two teams, who will resume their rivalry in the Australian summer.

Clarke and Pietersen had engaged in a shouting match earlier in the Test and on the last day there were more insults traded between the Australian captain and England bowler James Anderson.

Several Australians had taken pot shots at England for their slow batting on day three, and coach Darren Lehmann had accused Broad of ”blatant cheating” on the eve of the match, drawing a fine from the International Cricket Council.

Clarke denied there was ill-feeling, although counterpart Alastair Cook said: ”It’s been an interesting series in that way.”

Asked about being booed, Clarke said: ”It doesn’t surprise me.”

He received support from Lehmann, who noted it was the captaincy of Clarke that turned a fizzled-out draw into an edge-of-the-seat thriller. ”Look, I can’t control the crowd,” the coach said. ”What I do know is that game was set up totally by the Australian cricket team and I think the crowd probably enjoyed that more than the other days so far.”

Lehmann said he had spoken to Broad. ”We just move on,” he said.

Hugh Robertson, the UK sport minister, told BBC radio on Monday that urinating on the pitch was “not great behaviour”, indicating that the England and Wales Cricket Board would look into the matter

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CHARLTON: Meet the candidates

FEDERAL ELECTION: The seat of Charlton

CHARLTON: Seat profile & history


MY family and I love living here, and Labor’s plan will make our area an even better place to live.

Supporting jobs and a strong local economy is a priority. I will fight for investment in our region that delivers jobs.

I will work to secure further funds for the Glendale Transport Interchange and other vital infrastructure.

High-speed broadband is critical, only Labor will deliver it to every home and business for free. I will fight to see Labor’s NBN rollout continue in Charlton.

Our Better Schools plan will deliver more funding and extra resources for every school, which is vitally important for our area. We will also invest more in the childcare system to help ease the pressure on local families.

Our support for the health and hospital system, including Medicare Locals, means high quality health care that meets local needs.

This is Labor’s positive vision for Charlton.

See Pat’s video here


Kevin Baker has quit the campaign for Charlton last week after it was revealed that a website he had established contained lewd and sexist jokes.

His name will still appear on the ballot paper and voters must number all the boxes.

STEVE CAMILLERI, Christian Democrat Party (Fred Nile Group)

I AM a father of two from Lake Macquarie standing for the seat of Charlton representing the Christian Democratic Party.

Voting for us will strengthen the good Christian laws we still have and restore what we have lost.

Most are aware that the values and standards of Australia past are rapidly deteriorating. Nations, as history shows, fall from within, spiritually, morally and ethically. Vote for what’s good for our nation not our wallet.

We will protect the traditional marriage, the family, senior citizens, support industries that provide employment, wealth and prosperity and a future for our children. We will stand against homosexual marriage, selling the nation’s assets, the expanding casino and liquor outlets, abortion, rising electricity costs, the expanding pornographic industry in media and shop outlets.

You have the say and we have the will, stand for what is right.

See Steve’s video here


AS a retired high school teacher, I am passionate about education. The Greens would boost public funding for schools, and reverse cuts to universities and TAFE and make them more financially accessible.

Other key issues are the need for better health services including medical and hospital facilities, dental health, aged care and mental health services, as Charlton has a growing and ageing population.

I am very concerned about climate change and its effect on Lake Macquarie.

The Greens do not support Labor’s watered down Emissions Trading Scheme, which would give a $4billion windfall to make it cheaper for the polluters to pollute, and slash programs including environmental and clean energy schemes.

We can’t afford to wind back real climate change action. I will also campaign for investment in renewable energy to bring thousands of desperately needed new sustainable jobs to Charlton, and job initiatives for our unemployed youth.

See Dessie’s video here


I AM a lifelong resident of the Hunter Region. I was born in Cessnock and have resided in Coal Point for the past 15 years.

I was elected as councillor on Cessnock City Council and held that position for 12 years also serving as deputy mayor.

I am a self-employed building design consultant and a part-time casual teacher in engineering drafting at the TAFE Hunter Institute.

I am Pauline Hanson’s campaign manager for this election.

By voting 1 for One Nation in the House of Representatives and 1 above the line in group AG in the Senate you will be voting for a party that will:

a. reduce the cost of living by abolishing the carbon and mining tax; and

b. allow access to superannuation for persons up to 38 years therefore stimulating the housing industry, a key economic driver.

BRONWYN REID, Palmer United Party

THE Palmer United Party believes that Australians deserve a better deal from their government.

I’m a local resident of our electorate for over 30 years who is passionate about Australia’s future. I will work hard to make a real difference in our region

I am not a career politician or a party hack. I am a working mother, a small business owner, a professional consultant and a community advocate.

I am standing as a candidate for the seat of Charlton to fight for our region’s fair share of federal funding.

If elected as the Member for Charlton, I will fight for funding to fix Labor’s decades of neglect of our infrastructure problems such as flooding, pot-holed roads, traffic black spots and dangerous pedestrian crossings.

I will fight for funds for increased health and aged care services and affordable housing for low income families, pensioners and students.

See Bronwyn’s video here

TREVOR ANTHONEY, Bullet Train for Australia

I AM standing as a candidate because the current rail transport network isn’t good enough, and 32 years of talk and neglect by all sides of politics has left our nation unable to make a commitment to this essential infrastructure.

I want to help create public transport that my children and millions of Australians along the east coast can easily access, and move this country into the 21st century now – not in 50 years.

If voters want to see a high-speed rail network, then now is the time to take a chance to make Australia’s greatest infrastructure project a reality.

If you want to boost our local economies, support our goal that will create 100,000 jobs for Australia. If you would like to have cutting edge transport that is green, efficient, good for our families, community, and planet, vote 1 Bullet Train for Australia, then as you normally would.

See Trevor’s video here