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Robert Carling

Senior Fellow, Economics Program


Robert Carling is a Senior Fellow at the Centre for Independent Studies. Robert is researching and writing about fiscal policy, taxation and federalism. In addition to working on TARGET30 papers Robert has recently written reports called Shrink Taxation by Shrinking Government! and States of Debt.

Prior to joining the CIS, Robert was Executive Director, Economic and Fiscal at the New South Wales Treasury from 1998 to 2006. Previous position have been with Commonwealth Treasury, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. He holds academic qualifications in economics and finance from the London School of Economics and Political Science, Georgetown University and the University of Queensland.

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Publications by Author

  1. Submission to the ReThink Tax Discussion Paper

    Robert Carling | 20 May 2015 | Submissions

    Submission to the ReThink Tax Discussion Paper

  2. Right or Rort? Dissecting Australia’s Tax Concessions

    Robert Carling | 08 Apr 2015 | Research Reports

    Calls to abolish tax concessions to increase revenue are often misguided. So-called tax concessions for capital gains tax,... Read More...

  3. Public Money: Federal-State Financial Relations and the Constitutional Limits on Spending Public Money

    Anne Twomey, Robert Carling | 29 Oct 2014 | Occasional Papers

    This paper surveys and explains the history of how the Australian Constitution was intended to deal with federal-state financial... Read More...

  4. Sovereignty, Blame Games and Tony Abbott’s New Federalism

    Anne Twomey, Jeremy Sammut, Nick Greiner, Robert Carling | 28 Aug 2014 | Policy Forum

    This volume brings together the four presentations made to a Centre for Independent Studies public forum on reforming the... Read More...

  5. Where Your Tax Dollars Go

    Robert Carling | 09 Jul 2014 | Special Publications

    Taxation is imposed through the coercive power of the state. Politicians often speak of “asking” taxpayers to pay more... Read More...

  6. Budget 2014-15: Fiscal responsibility or savage cuts?

    Alexander Philipatos, Benjamin Herscovitch, Helen Andrews, Jennifer Buckingham, Matthew Taylor, Robert Carling, Simon Cowan, Stephen Kirchner, Steven Schwartz, Trisha Jha | 16 May 2014 | Special Publications

    The CIS analyses the Abbott government’s crucial first budget, including significant changes in the key policy areas of... Read More...

  7. Submission to the National Commission of Audit

    Alexander Philipatos, Jennifer Buckingham, Jeremy Sammut, Robert Carling, Simon Cowan, Stephen Kirchner, Trisha Jha | 01 Apr 2014 | TARGET30 Papers

    The federal government’s Commission of Audit (CoA) was established in 2013 to review the performance and role of government.... Read More...

  8. States of Debt

    Robert Carling | 20 Mar 2014 | TARGET30 Papers

    While the budget deficits and rising debt of the Australian federal government have received much attention, this report... Read More...

  9. Emergency Budget Repair Kit

    Alexander Philipatos, Jennifer Buckingham, Jeremy Sammut, Robert Carling, Simon Cowan, Trisha Jha | 21 Nov 2013 | TARGET30 Papers

    The federal budget deficit has been described as an emergency. Cutting wasteful programs can save more than $20 billion a... Read More...

  10. Shrink Taxation by Shrinking Government!

    Robert Carling | 07 Aug 2013 | TARGET30 Papers

    Shrink Taxation by Shrinking Government! explores the link between tax reform and smaller government as envisaged by CIS’s... Read More...

  11. TARGET30: Towards smaller government and future prosperity

    Peter Saunders, Robert Carling, Simon Cowan | 06 Mar 2013 | TARGET30 Papers

    TARGET30 is a campaign promoting smaller government, supported by a series of research reports providing policy solutions... Read More...

  12. FEATURE: Hayek, Keynes and the Great Recession

    Robert Carling | 25 Feb 2013 | POLICY Magazine

    The writings of Keynes and Hayek are rich with lessons on the causes of the current crisis and ways out of it.


    Robert Carling | 10 Dec 2012 | POLICY Magazine

    Robert Carling provides an overview of how federalism in Australia works.

  14. Australia’s Future Fiscal Shock

    Robert Carling | 28 Sep 2012 | Issue Analysis

    Government is facing the arduous task of securing sustainable expenditure, revenue and debt beyond the current four-year... Read More...

  15. Regulation or Strangulation? Banking After the Global Financial Crisis

    Ian Harper, Robert Carling | 12 Jun 2012 | Policy Forum

    Inadequate regulation of finance has taken much of the blame for the global financial crisis, leading governments around... Read More...

  16. Future Funds or Future Eaters? The Case Against a Sovereign Wealth Fund for Australia

    Robert Carling, Stephen Kirchner | 20 Feb 2012 | Policy Monographs

    This paper considers the arguments for and against greater use of a sovereign wealth fund in Australia. It argues that the... Read More...

  17. FEATURE: How to Double Government Spending in 10 Years

    Robert Carling | 06 Feb 2012 | POLICY Magazine

    Policy initiatives are a major driver of increased government spending, and resisting them is the key to getting spending... Read More...

  18. Trans-Atlantic Fiscal Follies: The Sequel

    Adam Creighton, Oliver Marc Hartwich, Robert Carling | 30 Nov 2011 | Policy Forum

    What started as the US subprime crisis became the global financial crisis and has now developed into the Trans-Atlantic sovereign... Read More...

  19. Trans-Atlantic Fiscal Follies: The Sequel

    Adam Creighton, Oliver Marc Hartwich, Robert Carling | 30 Aug 2011 | Speeches

    The GFC is back. What started as the US subprime crisis became the global financial crisis, which has now developed into... Read More...

  20. Taxploitation II: Tax Reform for Incentive,Productivity and Economic Growth

    John Humphreys, Robert Carling, Sinclair Davidson, Stephen Kirchner | 13 Jul 2011 | CIS Readings

    This volume reviews tax reforms implemented since the publication of Taxploitation by the CIS in 2006 and concludes that... Read More...

  21. BOOK REVIEW: Government Size and Implications for Economic Growth

    Robert Carling | 31 Mar 2011 | POLICY Magazine

    Government Size and Implications for Economic Growth By Andreas Bergh and Magnus Henrekson (Australian Enterprise Institute,... Read More...

  22. Tax, Borrow, Spend: How the States Compare

    Robert Carling | 17 Feb 2011 | Issue Analysis

    The report evaluates and compares the recent performance of the six Australian states in fiscal management, looking at indicators... Read More...

  23. Tax Reform – For Economic Growth or Bigger Government?

    Robert Carling | 14 Dec 2010 | Policy Forum

    The long-awaited report on Australia's Future Tax System (the 'Henry review') was released by the government in May 2010.... Read More...

  24. The Unfinished Business of Australian Income Tax Reform

    Robert Carling | 10 Mar 2010 | Policy Monographs

    Robert Carling says the reform agenda for personal income tax should be to cut marginal tax rates; implement automatic indexation... Read More...

  25. Fiscal Shock and Awe in the United States

    Robert Carling | 21 Oct 2009 | Issue Analysis

    The relative economic standing of the United States, and therefore its place in the world, may decline as other less mature... Read More...

  26. FEATURE: Ten Principles for Tax Reform

    Robert Carling | 15 Sep 2009 | POLICY Magazine

    Australia's tax system needs principles that go beyond efficiency, equity and simplicity.

  27. Fiscal Rules for Limited Government: Reforming Australia’s Fiscal Responsibility Legislation

    Robert Carling | 28 Jul 2009 | Policy Monographs

    The paper outlines the rationale for fiscal responsibility legislation and a rules-based approach to fiscal policy. It examines... Read More...

  28. Are We All Keynesians Again?

    Robert Carling | 12 Feb 2009 | Issue Analysis

    The revival of activist fiscal policy ought to be highly controversial because the 1970s and 1980s saw a new consensus emerge... Read More...

  29. Where to for Australian Federalism?

    Robert Carling | 01 Nov 2008 | Policy Forum

    Edited by Robert Carling with contributions from Cheryl Saunders, Jonathan Pincus, Wolfgang Kasper, Cliff Walsh and Ken Baxter. ... Read More...

  30. State Tax Reform: Progress and Prospects

    Robert Carling | 10 Mar 2008 | Policy Monographs

    This paper analyses the state taxation issues in further detail. After reviewing various reform options, it outlines the... Read More...

  31. FEATURE: Fixing Australian Federalism

    Robert Carling | 03 Mar 2008 | POLICY Magazine

    For federalism to work, the states need clear roles and their own revenue.

  32. Tax Earmarking Is It Good Practice?

    Robert Carling | 16 Jul 2007 | Policy Monographs

    This Monograph critically analyses the use of earmarked (or ‘hypothecated’) taxes in Australia.

  33. FEATURE: The Tax Take Is Up

    Robert Carling | 06 Jun 2007 | POLICY Magazine

    The mantle of 'highest taxing Treasurer' may go with the job, but the government's tax record is still disappointing.

  34. State Taxation and Fiscal Federalism: A Blueprint for Further Reform

    Robert Carling | 03 Nov 2006 | Policy Monographs

    This paper identifies major structural flaws in our current taxation system and develops a set of radical proposals to put... Read More...

Opinion & Commentary by Author

  1. Federal comfort zones must be abandoned

    Robert Carling | 22 Jul 2015 | Canberra Times

    Much has been said about the contest between political expediency and visionary leadership in the recent conduct of public... Read More

  2. The big problem with raising the GST

    Robert Carling | 21 Jul 2015 | Business Spectator

    Mike Baird’s daring call for a 50% increase in the GST has put a bold idea on the table and is to be commended for that.... Read More

  3. Wrong answer, Mr Hockey

    Robert Carling | 20 Apr 2015 | Business Spectator

    Unless Hockey thinks he is just calling South Australia’s bluff, he has given the wrong answer.

  4. Hitting the ‘rich’ no solution to budget deficit problem

    Robert Carling | 08 Apr 2015 | The Australian

    The campaign against tax concessions is finding oxygen in a climate of public opinion that has little tolerance for spending... Read More

  5. Rorts for the rich are a myth

    Robert Carling | 19 Feb 2015 | Australian Financial Review

    Tax concessions in areas such as superannuation, capital gains and GST are under attack like never before.

  6. Why Greece is the word in Queensland

    Robert Carling | 03 Feb 2015 | Business Spectator

    A three year old government is thrown out for imposing too much fiscal austerity and being too keen to sell public assets.... Read More

  7. Federal-state reform should not mean more tax

    Robert Carling | 20 Jan 2015 | Australian Financial Review

    The key point for both the tax review and the review of federalism is not to start from the premise that overall taxation... Read More

  8. Sizing up Hockey’s budget task

    Robert Carling | 19 Dec 2014 | Business Spectator

    The mid-year budget update (MYEFO) has unleashed speculation about what the Abbott government might do to rein in the budget... Read More

  9. Settle in for Hockey’s budget horror show

    Robert Carling | 16 Dec 2014 | Business Spectator

    The review shows much to be concerned about in the fiscal outlook and exposes the weaknesses in the Abbott government’s... Read More

  10. Indexing petrol excise makes it too easy for government to grow

    Robert Carling | 06 Nov 2014 | Business Spectator

    The Abbott government’s move to increase fuel excise duties without legislation raises questions of legitimacy not just... Read More

  11. Where to find the silver lining when a AAA rating vanishes

    Robert Carling | 29 Aug 2014 | The Australian Financial Review

    News of a credit rating downgrade, such as that handed to Western Australia’s government by Moody’s this week, is a state... Read More

  12. Hockey’s tax receipts don’t reveal the deficit

    Robert Carling | 22 Jul 2014 | The Australian

    What do Joe Hockey's new tax receipts for individuals really tell us about what the government spends and receives?

  13. Inflation must be in the tax review

    Robert Carling | 16 May 2014 | The Australian

    The cumulative effects of bracket creep are substantial and are best nipped in the bud each year rather than being allowed... Read More

  14. A short-term deficit levy plug does not fill a long-term hole

    Robert Carling | 30 Apr 2014 | The Australian Financial Review

    A temporary tax increase makes no economic sense. It makes no difference to what the deficit will be after the increase is... Read More

  15. Getting to the root of the 'tax crisis'

    Robert Carling | 21 Apr 2014 | Business Spectator

    Politicians have made promises that cannot be honoured from the existing tax base. Some may call that a revenue problem,... Read More

  16. States heading for a debt problem

    Robert Carling | 27 Mar 2014 | Open Forum

    If the states want to be able to spend on infrastructure, they have to keep a tight rein on operating expenses for years... Read More

  17. States on a slippery debt slope

    Robert Carling | 20 Mar 2014 | The Australian Financial Review

    The weakening of states' balance sheets will limit their future capacity to meet expectations in a range of services, including... Read More

  18. How to fix Australia's states of fiscal disgrace

    Robert Carling | 20 Mar 2014 | Business Spectator

    To avoid further deterioration in state finances, states will need to be extremely disciplined in their operating expenditure... Read More

  19. Stamp duty needs reform

    Robert Carling | 19 Nov 2013 | The Australian Financial Review

    Governments should be wary of the extreme volatility of stamp duty revenue, which often goes up or down by up to 40 per... Read More

  20. Tax cuts the way to go

    Robert Carling | 07 Aug 2013 | The Australian Financial Review

    Tax reform of the tax-reducing kind would give the Australian economy a long-lasting supply side boost.

  21. Reform and reduce: A hopeful tax mantra

    Robert Carling | 07 Aug 2013 | Business Spectator

    Tax reform seems destined to return to the policy agenda.

  22. Super myths

    Robert Carling | 11 Feb 2013 | ON LINE Opinion

    Ideally Australia would have a ‘E,E,T’ system - taxing superannuation to exempt both contributions and earnings.

  23. Self-sustaining leviathan

    Robert Carling | 23 Oct 2012 | ON LINE Opinion

    How does Australia compare in the welfare dependency stakes?

  24. Australia’s long-term fiscal future

    Robert Carling | 28 Sep 2012 | Australian Financial Review

    One of Australia’s strengths going into the global financial crisis was the condition of its public finances. We are now... Read More

  25. Fiscal gamble cheats reality

    Robert Carling | 12 Sep 2012 | The Australian

    The recent flurry of new spending commitments by the Gillard government seems to have overlooked an inconvenient truth revealed... Read More

  26. Taming the banks, but at what cost?

    Robert Carling | 07 Aug 2012 | Open Forum

    As the world's financial institutions regroup following the devastating global financial crisis economic policy is under... Read More

  27. Future Funds or Future Eaters? The case against a Sovereign Wealth Fund for Australia

    Robert Carling, Stephen Kirchner | 20 Feb 2012 | The Conversation

    It has also been argued that Australia needs a SWF to better manage the macroeconomic consequences of the “terms of trade”... Read More

  28. Give austerity a chance

    Robert Carling, Stephen Kirchner | 08 Feb 2012 | Australian Financial Review

    Fiscal policy should focus on micro-economic issues such as promoting incentives to save, work and invest, as well as ensuring... Read More

  29. Why reform worked in 1985

    Robert Carling | 03 Jan 2012 | The Australian

    Unlike Gillard and Swan, Hawke and Keating knew what they wanted to do

  30. Budget heat in a revenue drought

    Robert Carling | 08 Dec 2011 | Business Spectator

    Governments in other countries are in deeper fiscal distress than ours, but governments at the federal and state levels in... Read More

  31. Countdown to a US debt debacle

    Robert Carling | 21 Nov 2011 | The Business Spectator

    It says something about the depths of Europe’s economic malaise that America’s economic managers are attending international... Read More

  32. Tax changes are just a redistribution

    Robert Carling | 14 Jul 2011 | The Australian Financial Review

    The carbon pricing scheme was sold by the federal government as containing taxation reform measures, but once again we have... Read More

  33. We're all working for the man and it seems we have to do it for longer

    Robert Carling | 06 Apr 2011 | Brisbane Times

    Tax Freedom Day is later every year.

  34. Levy a $750 cup of coffee

    Robert Carling | 01 Mar 2011 | The Australian

    Swan has resorted to cheap tricks to spin his flood tax.

  35. Why we're in such a sorry state

    Robert Carling | 17 Feb 2011 | The Courier Mail

    A comparison of the six states' performances in fiscal management sheds light on why some states are under more pressure... Read More

  36. Increasing Australia's GST would add little value

    Robert Carling | 29 Nov 2010 | Australian Financial Review

    Those pushing for a higher rate of GST should be careful what they wish for they may get it, along with a lot of other things... Read More

  37. World debt crisis needs strong action, now

    Robert Carling | 14 Oct 2010 | The Age (Business)

    Australia has a vital interest in how the global debt crisis plays out.

  38. Fiscal authority the way to go

    Robert Carling | 21 Sep 2010 | The Australian (Business)

    We need a fiscal commission to strengthen the entire budget process.

  39. Tax policy devised by party that is green with envy

    Robert Carling | 03 Sep 2010 | The Australian

    Redistributing wealth rather than creating it seems to be the Greens' approach, says Robert Carling in The Australian, 3... Read More

  40. The Henry Report, state taxes and the Commonwealth-state divide

    Robert Carling | 13 May 2010 | Online Opinion

    The Henry tax review could change Commonwealth/state fiscal relations.

  41. Continental drift: inching away from federalism

    Robert Carling | 30 Apr 2010 | The Australian Financial Review

    The gradual shift of power among Australia’s governments, examined by Robert Carling in The Australian Financial Review,... Read More

  42. Tax reform should include cuts to marginal rates

    Robert Carling | 11 Mar 2010 | The Australian

    Cutting personal income tax would help to expand the economy’s productive capacity.

  43. Mr Swan’s preoccupation with superannuation

    Robert Carling | 19 Feb 2010 | Online Opinion

    The government needs to examine how to treat saving within the tax system and whether super should continue to be more lightly... Read More

  44. The US deficit canary has rattled the cage in warning of dire eventualities

    Robert Carling | 27 Oct 2009 | The Age

    The US government’s finances are in such bad shape that the Congressional Budget Office sounded a public alarm about the... Read More

  45. Stimulating government jobs

    Robert Carling | 27 Jul 2009 | ABC News

    Tripe isn’t most people’s idea of an appealing breakfast, certainly not mine. But readers of recent Sydney’s Sunday... Read More

  46. Standard and Poor’s has given NSW the benefit of some major doubts

    Robert Carling | 02 Jul 2009

    The NSW government, in its 2009–10 budget announced last week, claims to have charted a course back to a budget surplus... Read More

  47. Meanwhile, back at the root and branch review

    Robert Carling | 25 May 2009

    While the Commonwealth budget is centre-stage at the moment, backstage the root and branch review of the tax/transfer system... Read More

  48. Independent is the wrong word for Treasury

    Robert Carling | 16 May 2009

    The Treasury’s ‘independence’ has featured in the post-budget commentary. As a former Commonwealth and state treasury... Read More

  49. Don’t let the lynch mob loose on executive pay and private investment

    Robert Carling | 07 Apr 2009 | The Australian

    No financial institution has lost more in the current crisis, or drawn more on taxpayer support, than AIG – the American... Read More

  50. The Budget needs discipline and fiscal sustainability to put ensure the economy recovers

    Robert Carling | 07 Apr 2009 | The Australian Financial Review

    As the Commonwealth budget plunges into deficit, it would be reassuring to know that those in charge have a medium-term plan... Read More

  51. Dental levy would bite all taxpayers

    Robert Carling | 24 Feb 2009 | The Australian

    Having created the National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission, the Rudd government recently received the Commission’s... Read More

  52. Are we all Keynesians again?

    Robert Carling | 19 Feb 2009

    The Australian government’s latest fiscal stimulus has at least stimulated a debate about the wisdom of this type of government... Read More

  53. Stimulus is a waste of taxpayer’s dollars

    Robert Carling | 05 Feb 2009 | The Newcastle Herald

    Too much is being expected of fiscal stimulus.

  54. Populism is driving US and UK Tax Policies

    Robert Carling | 11 Dec 2008

    The level at which a country sets its top marginal rate of personal income tax says a lot about its priorities. The higher... Read More

  55. NSW needs more bang for the bucks it spends

    Robert Carling | 10 Nov 2008

    It is well known by now that New South Wales state finances are at a crunch point and that the Rees government’s solution... Read More

  56. Going for the tax policy gold

    Robert Carling | 19 Aug 2008 | The Australian Financial Review

    International competitiveness is front and centre in the federal government’s “root-and- branch” review of the tax... Read More

  57. The Budget is not what it seems

    Robert Carling | 20 May 2008 | The Age

    The Rudd government wants us to believe that it has laboured mightily to bring forth a budget that increases the surplus... Read More

  58. Still no freedom from higher taxes

    Robert Carling | 23 Apr 2008

    The call by the 2020 Summit for a big review of the tax system coincides, by chance, with the arrival of this year's Tax... Read More

  59. Add State Tax Reform to COAG’s agenda

    Robert Carling | 08 Apr 2008 | The Australian Financial Review

    Judging from what has so far been revealed of Kevin Rudd’s vision of cooperative federalism, state tax reform is not a... Read More

  60. Beware Canberra's power bid

    Robert Carling | 26 Mar 2008 | The Australian

    Today's Council of Australian Governments meeting is the latest step in the Rudd Government's drive to reshape commonwealth-state... Read More

  61. Laugh or cry - you've lost your subsidy Queensland

    Robert Carling | 11 Mar 2008 | Online Opinion

    The supercharged Queensland economy passed another milestone this week, although it’s one that Queenslanders may not want... Read More

  62. The politics of the big number

    Robert Carling | 27 Feb 2008 | The Australian Financial Review

    True or false? The Commonwealth budget surplus is $62 billion. The Prime Minister’s salary is $1,321,000.

  63. Use tax cuts to boost super

    Robert Carling | 16 Jan 2008 | The Australian Financial Review

    The Rudd government’s commitment to personal income tax cuts from July 2008 is being questioned by the OECD and some local... Read More

  64. Politicians addicted to big spending

    Robert Carling | 09 Oct 2007 | The Australian Financial Review

    Tax revenue and government spending have grown even faster than the booming economy since the last major attempt at tax reform... Read More

  65. Put budget surplus to good use

    Robert Carling | 17 Sep 2007 | The Australian Financial Reivew

    The Howard government’s fiscal strategy, as reiterated in the 2007-08 budget papers, has been to keep the budget in balance... Read More

  66. Dismantling federalism, one hospital at a time

    Robert Carling | 08 Aug 2007 | The Canberra Times

    The Federal Government's takeover of Tasmania's Mersey Hospital has attracted some of the criticism it deserves, but has... Read More

  67. Building up to a national impact

    Robert Carling | 01 Aug 2007 | The Australian Financial Review

    The recently completed round of budgets for 2007-08 reveals that deficits, borrowing and capital spending are back in fashion... Read More

  68. They’re Taxing Goodwill

    Robert Carling | 18 Jul 2007 | The Australian Financial Review

    Although Australian governments still rely overwhelmingly on general taxation, specific purpose levies (‘earmarked’ or... Read More

  69. Beattie spins out of reality

    Robert Carling | 08 Jun 2007 | The Courier Mail

    This week's prize for government "spin" should go to the Beattie Government for its hike in stamp duty on motor vehicle registrations... Read More

  70. Budget should deliver us a break

    Robert Carling | 29 Apr 2007 | Sunday Age

    Income tax reform should be tackled in the federal budget.

  71. Public purse is a burden we all carry

    Robert Carling | 24 Apr 2007 | The Australian

    It doesn't have the significance of Anzac Day and you don't get a public holiday for it, but the day before Anzac Day is... Read More

  72. Tax reform: we have barely scratched the surface

    Robert Carling | 16 Apr 2007 | The Australian Financial Review

    As preparation of the 2007-08 Commonwealth budget moves into top gear, it is timely to remind policymakers of the taxpayer’s... Read More

  73. Costello holds aces in tax deal

    Robert Carling | 29 Mar 2007 | The Australian Financial Review

    In the lead-up to their annual conference tomorrow, federal and state treasurers are again at loggerheads over state taxes.... Read More

  74. Fiscal federalism robs states of self-reliance

    Robert Carling | 21 Nov 2006 | The Newcastle Herald

    Commonwealth-state relations have recently focused on policy coordination under a National Reform Agenda in pursuit of improved... Read More

  75. States' tax system is deficient

    Robert Carling | 08 Nov 2006 | The Australian Financial Review

    The recent focus of Commonwealth-state relations on policy coordination in pursuit of improved productivity and labour force... Read More

Ideas@TheCentre by Author

  1. Another unhelpful tax thought bubble

    Robert Carling | 31 Jul 2015 | Ideas@The Centre

    Last weekend's ALP conference resolution committing a future Labor government to 'consider' a version of the so-called Buffett... Read More

  2. Reform retreat a tax-fest

    Robert Carling | 24 Jul 2015 | Ideas@The Centre

    Paul Keating once warned, "Never stand between a state premier and a bucket of money". Rarely has the hazard been more on... Read More

  3. Baird's budget bonanza

    Robert Carling | 26 Jun 2015 | Ideas@The Centre

    The New South Wales 2015-16 budget announced this week demonstrates the O'Farrell/Baird governments have accomplished the... Read More

  4. Reflecting on Tax Freedom Day

    Robert Carling | 10 Apr 2015 | Ideas@The Centre

    Balance needs to be restored to a narrative that sees tax concessions as nothing but distortions and rorts favouring the... Read More

  5. Opening the tax reform can of worms

    Robert Carling | 02 Apr 2015 | Ideas@The Centre

    The current ramshackle tax system is the product of compromises, tinkering, political pragmatism and budget ad hoccery over... Read More

  6. 40 years of budgets in the rearview mirror

    Robert Carling | 27 Feb 2015 | Ideas@The Centre

    The federal government's Intergenerational Reports (IGR) have attracted plenty of attention in the past, but nothing like... Read More

  7. PPL levy without the PPL?

    Robert Carling | 06 Feb 2015 | Ideas@The Centre

    Tony Abbott has abandoned his enhanced PPL scheme, but word is that the tax earmarked to pay for it (a 1.5% levy on larger... Read More

  8. The silly season GST debate

    Robert Carling | 16 Jan 2015 | Ideas@The Centre

    A public debate about the Goods and Services Tax (GST) is something we have to have, but considering some of the recent contributions,... Read More

  9. G20 growth plan found wanting

    Robert Carling | 21 Nov 2014 | Ideas@The Centre

    Every G20 host country likes to have a signature initiative, and Australia's was the Brisbane Action Plan to lift the economic... Read More

  10. Indexing petrol excise makes it too easy for government to grow

    Robert Carling | 07 Nov 2014 | Ideas@The Centre

    The Abbott government’s move to increase fuel excise duties without legislation raises questions of legitimacy not just... Read More

  11. Robin Hood is alive and well in Australia

    Robert Carling | 29 Aug 2014 | Ideas@The Centre

    Critics of budget measures appear to believe that social benefits both individually and in aggregate should only ever go... Read More

  12. Fascinating fiscal facts

    Robert Carling | 30 May 2014 | Ideas@The Centre

    Tax of $18,108 per capita should be more than enough to satisfy government, but government spend in 2012-13 was more than... Read More

  13. Revenue to the rescue

    Robert Carling | 16 May 2014 | Ideas@The Centre

    The 2014-15 Budget relies heavily on revenue to reach approximate balance in four years’ time.

  14. Tax Freedom Day

    Robert Carling | 11 Apr 2014 | Ideas@The Centre

    Australians worked solely to pay taxes from 1 January this year until 22 March to pay federal taxes and then until 9 April... Read More

  15. State governments in a jobs quandary

    Robert Carling | 21 Mar 2014 | Ideas@The Centre

    Restoring operating surpluses to the states requires tightening up on operating costs.

  16. The budget deficit in the (very) long term

    Robert Carling | 21 Feb 2014 | Ideas@The Centre

    Australia faces a budget problem far into the future due to the fiscal costs of population ageing and evolving health care... Read More

  17. Balancing the budget

    Robert Carling | 07 Feb 2014 | Ideas@The Centre

    The best result in the budget is for it to swing between deficit and surplus depending on cyclical conditions.

  18. Time for a fresh look at indexation of social benefits

    Robert Carling | 22 Nov 2013 | Ideas@The Centre

    If the Abbott government is serious about curbing government spending it cannot afford to quarantine big spending items like... Read More

  19. Cleaning out the stables

    Robert Carling | 08 Nov 2013 | Ideas@The Centre

    Hoceky’s tax policy changes announced this week will undo some of the damage created by the ad hoc approach to tax policy... Read More

  20. Budget realities

    Robert Carling | 01 Nov 2013 | Ideas@The Centre

    A substantial reduction in the growth rate of Commonwealth spending cannot be achieved just by rooting out inefficiency,... Read More

  21. America's budget road-blocks

    Robert Carling | 11 Oct 2013 | Ideas@The Centre

    In the US shutdown, one side will ultimately have to be proven more right or more wrong than the other in the court of public... Read More

  22. An economic rationalist's guide to the election

    Robert Carling | 06 Sep 2013 | Ideas@The Centre

    Principled policy is the first casualty of election campaigns.

  23. Just how big is the national debt?

    Robert Carling | 30 Aug 2013 | Ideas@The Centre

    The increase in debt over the past five years has far outstripped the amount of net capital expenditure.

  24. What a difference five percent can make

    Robert Carling | 16 Aug 2013 | Ideas@The Centre

    Australians have to make a choice between spending more and taxing more on the one hand, and spending less and taxing less... Read More

  25. Tax reform with smaller government

    Robert Carling | 09 Aug 2013 | Ideas@The Centre

    Australia needs a reduction in the overall tax burden and a reshuffling in favour of less harmful taxes to spur economic... Read More

  26. Fixed terms revisited

    Robert Carling | 05 Jul 2013 | Ideas@The Centre

    The current bout of speculation about the election date reminds us that there is a way to put a stop to this silly game once... Read More

  27. The elusive budget surplus

    Robert Carling | 17 May 2013 | Ideas@The Centre

    The idea that we will have a balanced budget by 2015-16 should be met with healthy scepticism.

  28. Fiscal fixes

    Robert Carling | 03 May 2013 | Ideas@The Centre

    Australia has a size-of-government problem rather than a revenue shortfall.

  29. What is a fair share?

    Robert Carling | 15 Mar 2013 | Ideas@The Centre

    What does a fair share of tax actually mean?

  30. Mining tax as a federalism issue

    Robert Carling | 01 Mar 2013 | Ideas@The Centre

    The messy MRRT that we now have co-exists with state royalties which creates the undesirable possibility of ‘double taxation.’

  31. Super myths

    Robert Carling | 08 Feb 2013 | Ideas@The Centre

    The government should stop treating superannuation as a target for ad hoc raids to fund its pet programmes.

  32. Fiscal sausages

    Robert Carling | 11 Jan 2013 | Ideas@The Centre

    What emerged from Congress on the first day of 2013 is as unpalatable as the worst-made sausage.

  33. Beware of calls for a bigger GST

    Robert Carling | 07 Dec 2012 | Ideas@The Centre

    Government must exercise restraint over expenditure.

  34. Smelling the fiscal rat

    Robert Carling | 02 Nov 2012 | Ideas@The Centre

    The mid-year budget review is one of the most duplicitous acts of fiscal policy ever performed in Australia.

  35. Self-sustaining leviathan

    Robert Carling | 19 Oct 2012 | Ideas@The Centre

    The welfare state has gone far beyond a ‘safety net’ concept.

  36. Australia’s future fiscal shock

    Robert Carling | 28 Sep 2012 | Ideas@The Centre

    New government spending since 2010 could easily amount to an additional $28 billion by 2020, costs that the government can... Read More

  37. A deficit of stability and predictability

    Robert Carling | 14 Sep 2012 | Ideas@The Centre

    The goal of achieving a budget surplus does not justify diverting every budget measure in that direction.

  38. Taxing illusions

    Robert Carling | 24 Aug 2012 | Ideas@The Centre

    The PAYE feature of the tax system creates the illusion of a smaller tax burden than the reality.

  39. Slicing up a bigger national pie

    Robert Carling | 27 Jul 2012 | Ideas@The Centre

    ABS figures for 2009–10 shed light on changes in average household incomes, their distribution, and the redistributive... Read More

  40. Remember the Henry tax review?

    Robert Carling | 11 May 2012 | Ideas@The Centre

    This week’s federal budget is evidence of just how much of the Henry review is not being implemented.

  41. Mugged by a Swan

    Robert Carling | 04 May 2012 | Ideas@The Centre

    Doubling the concessional contributions tax for high income earners to raise a relatively trivial amount of revenue smacks... Read More

  42. Politicians’ own taxes

    Robert Carling | 20 Apr 2012 | Ideas@The Centre

    Requiring candidates to disclose their tax returns will further trivialise election campaigns.

  43. Glimmer of hope

    Robert Carling | 23 Mar 2012 | Ideas@The Centre

    The libertarian view is that increasing top marginal rates is a populist reaction, is the wrong way to address legitimate... Read More

  44. The taxman cometh

    Robert Carling | 17 Feb 2012 | Ideas@The Centre

    The government isn’t making any economic sense fighting against a deficit in the budget.

  45. ‘Building a new economy’ – really, Prime Minister?

    Robert Carling | 10 Feb 2012 | Ideas@The Centre

    Government should look at the big picture and give the private sector the best tools to build a solid economy.

  46. US presidential race taxing

    Robert Carling | 27 Jan 2012 | Ideas@The Centre

    Sketchy tax system causes problems for presidential hopefuls.

  47. Government can’t keep to its own spending constraints

    Robert Carling | 13 Jan 2012 | Ideas@The Centre

    Curbing government spending is critical to closing the Commonwealth budget deficit, and dare we say it, setting the foundation... Read More

  48. Nanny state taxation

    Robert Carling | 04 Nov 2011 | Ideas@The Centre

    If the nanny state insists on new or increased behavioural taxes, then government should also introduce equivalent cuts in... Read More

  49. The aftermath of financial crises

    Robert Carling | 10 Jun 2011 | Ideas@The Centre

    Financial markets here and abroad are again in a funk over a raft of disappointing economic indicators in the United States,... Read More

  50. Government too big for its boots

    Robert Carling | 03 Jun 2011 | Ideas@The Centre

    Can an action of one government be so bad that it justifies retrospective legislation by a successor government?

  51. Back in the black or still in the red?

    Robert Carling | 13 May 2011 | Ideas@The Centre

    Swan’s goal of tightening fiscal policy is appropriate but his methods need scrutiny.

  52. Tax Freedom Day arrives

    Robert Carling | 08 Apr 2011 | Ideas@The Centre

    From 6 April, the private sector in Australia began working for itself.

  53. The language of tax and spend

    Robert Carling | 25 Feb 2011 | Ideas@The Centre

    Politicians have mastered the common marketing technique of making the price of a product appear cheaper than it is.

  54. How the states measure up

    Robert Carling | 18 Feb 2011 | Ideas@The Centre

    The overall trend in state finances over the last three years has been one of deterioration driven by strong growth in recurrent... Read More

  55. Paying for the floods

    Robert Carling | 28 Jan 2011 | Ideas@The Centre

    Despite its beguiling label, the levy is a tax increase like any other tax increase. The government knows there is a political... Read More

  56. Shopping for a solution

    Robert Carling | 14 Jan 2011 | Ideas@The Centre

    Online shopping overseas makes it harder for foreign suppliers to practise price discrimination or for domestic retailers... Read More

  57. A bigger GST? Be careful what you wish for

    Robert Carling | 01 Oct 2010 | Ideas@The Centre

    Those pushing for a higher rate of GST should be careful what they wish for – they may get it but also a lot of other things... Read More

  58. Why can't federal politicians stick to federal issues?

    Robert Carling | 20 Aug 2010 | Ideas@The Centre

    It was a major player in national politics who once observed 'All politics is local.' That was Tip O'Neill, a former Speaker... Read More

  59. There’s nothing like government advertising

    Robert Carling | 04 Jun 2010 | Ideas@The Centre

    Something is awry when an advertising campaign becomes more controversial than its subject. Worse when it happens twice.... Read More

  60. RSPT debate put on ice

    Robert Carling | 28 May 2010 | Ideas@The Centre

    In the heat of debate about the emotively named ‘resource super profits tax’ (RSPT), it can be difficult to keep track... Read More

  61. The Quest for the Holy Grail of Tax

    Robert Carling | 07 May 2010 | Ideas@The Centre

    The Henry tax plan that burst onto the stage last Sunday was dryly and perhaps optimistically titled Australia’s Future... Read More

  62. Too good to be true?

    Robert Carling | 09 Apr 2010 | Ideas@The Centre

    That Australia’s economy performed better than many others during the recent global financial crisis is beyond doubt, but... Read More

  63. Tax cuts will help achieve productivity goal

    Robert Carling | 05 Mar 2010 | Ideas@The Centre

    Although the government’s major review of the tax and transfer system (the Henry Review) has not yet been released, there... Read More

  64. The next financial crisis is around the corner

    Robert Carling | 23 Oct 2009 | Ideas@The Centre

    Even as the current global financial crisis loosens its grip, the seeds of the next crisis are to be found in the developed... Read More

  65. Stimulus advertising only supports MPs’ jobs

    Robert Carling | 24 Jul 2009 | Ideas@The Centre

    Tripe isn’t most people’s idea of an appealing breakfast, certainly not mine. But readers of recent Sydney’s Sunday... Read More

  66. Legislate for Fiscal Responsibility

    Robert Carling | 10 Jul 2009 | Ideas@The Centre

    The federal government’s taxing and spending powers have far-reaching consequences for the economic prosperity and welfare... Read More

  67. Independent is the wrong word for Treasury

    Robert Carling | 15 May 2009 | Ideas@The Centre

    The Treasury’s ‘independence’ has featured in the post-budget commentary.