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Abstract from

The 'Thirty Year Problem': Political Entrepreneurs, Policy Learning and the Institutional Dynamics of Australian Consumption Tax Reform

Richard Eccleston is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Politics and Public Policy at Griffith University. In January 2007 he takes up a position in the School of Government at the University of Tasmania. He has written widely on Australian and comparative political economy with an emphasis on tax policy and reform. His most recent book is Taxing Reforms: The politics of consumption tax reform in the United States, Canada, Japan and Australia (Edward Elgar, 2007).

The issue of tax reform and the debate surrounding the introduction of a broad-based consumption tax in particular has been prominent in both Australia and internationally over the past quarter of a century. This article provides a ‘structured’ policy narrative of the consumption tax reform debate in Australia between 1970 and 2000 and in so doing aims to highlight the dominant actors and their influence in the tax policy process. At a theoretical level, the article broaches two related issues. First, it will assess the extent to which the institutional struc­ture of the tax policy environment has influenced the contours of Australian tax reform over this 30-year period. Secondly, in view of the protracted nature of the debate relating to the introduction of a broad-based consumption tax, this article places specific emphasis on assessing the role of institutional change and endogenous factors in the tax reform process. This second issue is at the forefront of insti­tutionalist research concerning the mutually constitutive role of institutions, ideas and actors in economic reform.

(2006) 24 No 2 Law in Context 100-123

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