Covid-19 update: 23rd April 2020

  • PM Morrison is lobbying other leaders (Merkel, Macron, Trump) to reform the WHO to enable a more pro-active approach (like UN weapons inspectors). The UK and France have said the priority now is dealing with the crisis rather than investigation. (ABC)
  • Considerable speculation regarding possible tax reform:
    • Chair of NCCC Nev Power has downplayed company tax cuts as ‘not very targeted’ and says the priority must be to encourage investment. ‘We should be looking at incentivising businesses to invest here in Australia.’ Nominated accelerated depreciation and investment allowances. (SMH)
    • Former Treasurer Costello says that the government should stick to its income tax cut timetable and ‘even look at accelerating it.’ Costello also said that red tape should be cut, nominating the responsible-lending laws as ‘thoroughly inappropriate to the circumstances we now find ourselves in.’ (Australian)
    • Former Treasury Secretary Ken Henry says four priorities for tax reform – (1) a business cash-flow tax to replace GST, payroll taxes and taxes on insurance (2) progressive land tax to replace stamp duties (3) road user charges to replace fuel excise (4) scholarships, pensions and allowances to be exempt from tax. (AFR)
  • Senator Dean Smith has proposed that property investors have their loans converted to interest only mortgages by banks. Senator Smith said that banks might need to be brought in front of a Senate Committee to explain their conduct through the crisis.
  • Former senior Treasury official Greg Smith has called for a Budget statement next month, so that we are not ‘running the country blind.’ Smith also said that politicians must be clear that ‘tax reform is not just tax cuts’ and that some taxes will have to rise. (AFR)
  • Labor says governments should take an equity stake in all ‘crucial’ businesses facing Covid-19 hardship. (AFR) Shadow Employment and Industry Minister O’Connor nominated advanced manufacturing, including pharmaceuticals, food manufacturing, textiles and clothing, vehicle parts, non-airline transport such as rail freight, and metal work.
  • Senate Select Committee on Covid-19 has its first hearing today (10am). First witness will be CMO Brendan Murphy.