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Death taxes are no way to deal with intergenerational inequality

By Graham Young - posted Friday, 22 September 2023

The appointment of Danielle Wood, current CEO of Melbourne-based think tank the Grattan Institute, as the new chair of the Productivity Commission signals the beginning of the surrender to the left of this government body.

Not that it may make much difference-most of its recommendations are "honoured in the breach rather than the observance" with the Australian federal government not moving to implement any of its recent 72 recommendations from its 2023 Productivity Inquiry.

Out of the 26 recommendations in the previous report, completed in 2017, all were neglected save for part of one recommendation-to change from stamp duties to land tax-which has been partially implemented in New South Wales.


Current Treasurer Jim Chalmers has expressed a desire to "reform" the Productivity Commission and initially appointed fellow alumnus of the office of former federal Treasurer Wayne Swan, Chris Barrett, to do the job.

After being appointed Mr. Barrett decided to return home to Victoria where he had been deputy secretary of the state's Treasury to be promoted.

The Productivity Commission job must have looked uninviting if the chance to preside over the gradual bankruptcy of Victoria was more appealing.

The roots of the Grattan Institute

I've often remarked that if you want to see where Labor is heading, check out the Grattan Institute. It was initially established in 2008 during the prime ministership of Kevin Rudd with funding from the Victorian and Commonwealth governments, as well as Melbourne University and mining giant BHP.

From the beginning, it's been a source of anodyne left-wing policies which tend to follow The Guardian and Crikey media outlets rather than the other way around.

It is called the Grattan Institute because it sits in a building owned by the University of Melbourne on Grattan Street, and no one could think of a better name. Most think tanks can do better than that, so it got off to an unimaginative and unpromising start.


The first CEO John Daley was a former banker who had a history both as a lawyer and a public servant in Victoria with a keen eye for political wins, but a clear leftward bias.

Mr. Daley was early onto the climate change bandwagon. I remember attending a presentation where he said the costs of decarbonisation were trivial. I quizzed him about heavy electricity users like aluminium smelters only to be assured that most of ours would be fine.

That prediction hasn't worn well with all of our smelters on borrowed time, and Rio Tinto making an allowance of $1.7 billion against its alumina refineries in its last annual report.

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This article was first published by the Epoch Times.

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About the Author

Graham Young is chief editor and the publisher of On Line Opinion. He is executive director of the Australian Institute for Progress, an Australian think tank based in Brisbane, and the publisher of On Line Opinion.

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