• Service: Tax
  • Type: Regulatory update
  • Date: 20/01/2014

Tax Insights

KPMG's analysis of tax issues and developments.

Jenny Wong

Jenny Wong
Director, Tax

+61 2 9335 8661

Tax policy in Australia: How to influence policy making 

by Jenny Wong, Australian Tax Centre

Over the break, I watched and read a series of excellent interviews with Dr Ken Henry, former Secretary to the Treasury and former Chair of the panel to Australia’s Future Tax System Review in 2009, on his perspective on the long-term challenges Australia faces, the Asian Century and the tax policy settings needed to address the issues identified. An engaging interview was hosted by UNSW Australian School of Business, ‘Meet the CEO’ where an audience participant asked Dr Ken Henry what are the qualities of a ‘master public servant’. Dr Henry’s response was that such a person:
  • takes a very keen interest in the challenges their political leaders face
  • has a keen sense of where the national interest lies
  • has the ability to put advice to Government in a way that is compelling, where ministers are convinced it is the right thing to do and can effectively be communicated by the ministers to the general public
  • has the ability to implement the decisions government takes
  • takes a whole-of-economy perspective on the issues and avoids the temptation to adopt a narrow perspective


In addition to this, effective policy makers are required to be sensitive to the policy environment of the day, apply analytical rigour and have an understanding on how policy influences the well-being of the Australian community, individually and collectively.


With resourcing in Treasury being stretched and greater reliance on the broader tax community to consult with Government ministers to come up with solutions, we as the tax community can assist Government by having an awareness of the qualities expected of a policy maker. This certainly helps next time we consider how a submission to Government should be framed when we are lobbying for tax changes.


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