'Re-thinking' the Influence of Regulatory Capture in the Development of Government Regulation
(2015) 43(5) Australian Business Law Review 379-399
21 Pages Posted: 5 Aug 2019
Date Written: November 1, 2015
On 30 March 2015 the Australian Federal Government launched its “Re:think” initiative with the objective of achieving a better tax system which delivers taxes that are lower, simpler and fairer. The discussion paper released as part of the “Re:think” initiative is designed to start a national conversation on tax reform. However, inquiries into Australia’s future tax system, subsequent reforms and the introduction of new taxes are nothing new. Unfortunately, recent history also demonstrates that reform initiatives arising from reviews of the Australian tax system are often deemed a failure. The most prominent of these failures in recent times is the Minerals Resource Rent Tax (MRRT), which lasted a mere 16 months before its announced repeal. Using the established theoretic framework of regulatory capture to interpret publically observable data, the purpose of this article is to explain the failure of this arguably sound tax. It concludes that the MRRT legislation itself, through the capture by the mining companies, provided internal subsidisation in the form of reduced tax and minimal or no rents. In doing so, it offers an opportunity to understand and learn from past experiences to ensure that recommendations coming out of the Re:think initiative do not suffer the same fate.
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