Thank you, Dr Henry

Dr Ken Henry has resigned after ten tumultuous, torturous years as Australia’s Secretary of the Treasury, effective March.

Treasury Secretaries are notorious for being conservative prickly characters – the role demands they destroy the half-baked enthusiasms of amateur economists and the dangerous projects of populist politicians.

Dr Henry is certainly prickly, but is no conformist conservative.  He rose to Secretary solely on merit and application, while retaining his intellectual independence and scepticism.

Prosper regards his contribution to Australia’s Future Tax System – the document that maps out the direction Australia must take to lift living standards for all – as his crowning achievement.

AFTS recommends – insists – the way forward is to reduce the burden of taxation on labor and capital and transfer it onto economic rents.

This tax reform will turbocharge our economy.  It will make Australia a genuine centre of excellence: a magnet for investment, for jobs, and a shining example to stunted and downtrodden citizens everywhere.

The much-weakened mining tax is only one aspect of this reform.  The opposition it provoked from mine owners points to its effectiveness.  We could have had an extra $40 billion or more a year in government coffers – money to end the bad and distorting taxes we now endure, or improve the services government provides.

Instead, weak politicians have retreated and compromised and dissembled – on a tax that doesn’t distort economic behaviour and gives Australia a share in the land’s bounty.

There are enough reform opportunities in AFTS to occupy governments for a decade.

Dr Henry is to be replaced by Dr Martin Parkinson.  Prosper fervently hope he has intestinal fortitude and departmental support to persist with Dr Henry’s ambitious tax reform agenda.

Addendum: I am not along in admiring Dr Henry.  Ross Gittins of The Age and Sydney Morning Herald does too, for much the same reasons.


  1. Andy Moore21-12-2010

    Forget about Martin Parkinson… I’m going to need intestinal fortitude just to get through this Christmas! mmmmmm…turkey….

  2. Toluol turkey21-12-2010

    Well said, David Collyer. Ken Henry’s recommendations for tax reform are well thought out and deserve to be revisited – not shelved by chicken-hearted governments.

  3. PeterJB17-01-2011

    The problem with the AFTS is that the probability that taxes on labour will not be reduced even if such a scheme is successfully launched is very high, due to traditional Australian political behavior and government spending pretending to be a benefit to the Nation as a whole, will increase to, as usual, attempt to keep the controlling Party in power. This is a recursive game play crudely carried out traditionally, in lieu of proper national and state governance, for self (Party-line) agenda and it is effected by and through “Policy” while being a severe constraint on the natural order of physical life and justice.

    Or IOW, what is practiced in Australia as “governance” is naught but a statists squeezing-blood-out-of-a-stone recursive profit play, through the imposition of crude Policies designed to prolong Party dominance. As a result, natural growth is constrained and corrupted forcing cyclic socialism towards and into a state of fascism and eventual societal collapse.

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