‘Not on the agenda’: Labor Senator denies government is considering inheritance tax idea raised by new productivity commission head

‘Not on the agenda’: Labor Senator denies government is considering inheritance tax idea raised by new productivity commission head
  • PublishedSeptember 13, 2023

The Albanese government has strongly denied it is considering imposing an inheritance tax, with Labor’s Deborah O’Neill declaring it is “absolutely… not on the agenda”.

The government came under attack in Question Time on Tuesday, after comments from the new head of the Productivity Commission, Danielle Wood, were featured on the front page of the Australian Financial Review.

While acknowledging inheritance taxes were “political dynamite”, the incoming Productivity Commission chair had urged the government to “at least have a sensible conversation” about “taxing large inheritances”.

When asked whether the government would welcome a debate on inheritance taxes, Labor Senator Deborah O’Neill was quick to shoot down the idea.

“I want to be really, really clear: the answer is no. Absolutely no,” Senator O’Neill told Sky News Australia’s Sharri Markson.

The NSW Labor senator pointed out Ms Wood’s comments were made prior to her appointment as the new head of the Productivity Commission.

“On the 30th of August, when the new Productivity Commissioner gave that speech, she was not then the Productivity Commissioner,” Senator O’Neill said.

“She was the head of a think tank called the Grattan Institute, which Australians who watch your show I’m certain are familiar with.

“The critical thing is her appointment came on the 6th of September.”

Senator O’Neill, who chairs the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services, pointed out the Financial Review article had included a line clarifying that “Labor is not considering an inheritance tax” and Treasurer Jim Chalmers “has ruled out sweeping tax reform”.

“We’re definitely going to go after multinationals and make sure they pay their fair share,” Senator O’Neill said.

“But the actual facts of the matter should put paid to the next scare campaign that was attempted today in the Senate at Question Time by some colleagues who… want to create fear and alarm.

“Australians are well able to see through a scare campaign like this. And I want to say very clearly, inheritance tax is not on the agenda.”

New productivity commissioner head Danielle Wood, formerly of the Grattan Institute, has urged the government to consider "taxing large inheritances". Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Geraghty

New productivity commissioner head Danielle Wood, formerly of the Grattan Institute, has urged the government to consider “taxing large inheritances”. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Geraghty

Appearing on the Sky News panel alongside the Senator O’Neill, Nationals MP Keith Pitt responded with scepticism.

“It’s a very good attempt by Deborah. But seriously, we’re seriously expected to believe that Ms Wood wasn’t aware that she’d be announced as an appointment on the 6th?” Mr Pitt asked.

“That there was no due diligence, that they hadn’t had a discussion with her? She was just magically going to leave her current job and that she would go out and say something that controversial.”

The Coalition Senator pointed out Treasurer Jim Chalmers had hand-picked Ms Wood to be the new Productivity Commission Chair and argued higher taxes were in Labor’s DNA.

“Keep in mind this is a hand-picked position by the treasurer Jim Chalmers. And she’s gone out and said something like this,” he said.

“She’s made these types of comments without the approval of the treasurer’s office, the minister, the prime minister, and was then still appointed?

“Now this is in Labor’s DNA, higher taxes, more challenges. And for those people retiring, it’s their money; they’ve earned it.”

SOURCE: SKYNEWS

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