Who is Andrew Barr, and why does he get a story? Well, he's the Treasurer of the Australian Capital Territories (Labour), encompassing the capitol, Canberra, and his government has released a five-year plan to eliminate the usual nuisance taxes, anti-prosperity taxes and general economy-killing taxes and return to a broad based tax based on general rates on land values, including both commercial and residential land.
Since the early 1920s, collecting land rent was intended to be the basis of funding the ACT in infrastructure and services. That was whittled away over the years, with "traditional" taxes on anyone or anything that moved. Well, back to the future. After the Henry Review of 2009, a national review of all taxes recommendations - including land tax expansion - were presented, and most state governments ducked in horror when faced with a blueprint for real reform.
Yet, ACT's state government took a different tack, and worked with the Henry recommendations and devised a plan that took courage but will benefit the state for years to come. The precis of their reform plan is here, and it looks sober yet bold, with cuts in taxes on such essentials as payrolls, insurance and real state transfer taxes.
Mr. Barr and the ACT government deserve credit for recognizing that tax policy can create either the doldrums or opportunities for growth. The Age's Michael Pascoe, editor the Business Day recognized the sea change for the ACT, as did former ACT Treasurer Ted Quinlan.
To paraphrase the Smiths, "Andrew take a, Andrew take a bow."