Wayne Swan joins tax thinktank over fears cuts will ‘turbocharge inequality’

Katharine Murphy

Wed 18 Apr 2018 21.39 BST

Former treasurer says tax avoidance and evasion a ‘critical driver’ of global inequality



The former Labor deputy prime minister and treasurer Wayne Swan will join an international thinktank dedicated to reforming corporate taxation to ensure multinationals pay their fair share.

Swan, who recently confirmed plans to exit politics after the next federal election, will join the Independent Commission for the Reform of International Corporate Taxation as a commissioner in an honorary capacity.

Other commissioners include the Nobel laureate in economics, Joseph Stiglitz, and high-profile French economists and authors Thomas Piketty and Gabriel Zucman.

The commission was initiated by a group of civil society and labour organisations, including Action Aid, Alliance Sud, CCFD-Terre Solidaire, Christian Aid, the Council for Global Unions, the Global Alliance for Tax Justice, Oxfam, Public Services International, the Tax Justice Network and the World Council of Churches.

The organisation works to stoke the corporate tax reform debate at a global level by undertaking research and advocacy.

Swan, a Queensland rightwinger, is currently running to be the national president of the ALP against the leftwing Labor frontbencher Mark Butler.

The right faction persuaded Swan to run, believing he would attract votes from left-leaning rank-and-file members because he has mounted a high-profile campaign during this period in opposition to make Labor’s economic and tax policy more progressive.

Left candidates generally win grassroots ballots but the right faction thinks Swan has a chance of prevailing against Butler, who is running for a second term as party president on a platform of party democratisation.

Swan said he looked forward to making contributions to the international group because “the existing system of international taxation is increasingly serving the wealthy few”.

“Moves to slash the corporate tax rate in Australia, following the Trump corporate tax cuts in the United States, will turbocharge inequality and entrench the power of the wealthy elite,” he said.

“Tax avoidance and evasion is a critical driver of growing global wealth and income inequality. It eats away at the foundations of trust in corporate behaviour and it pushes up tax rates for people on modest incomes”.

“The OECD conservatively estimates that base erosion and profit shifting leads to revenue losses worldwide of between $100bn and $240bn annually, which robs governments of the revenue required to provide public goods that support strong and durable growth”.


ICRICTWayne Swan