Rob Oakeshott Beclowns Himself; Doesn't Know What A Tax Is

We just had an extraordinary twitter conversation with Rob Oakshott MP, Federal Member of Parliament for Lyne.

It has become abundantly clear that Mr Oakeshott - the man who holds the balance of power in our Federal Parliament, and whose vote was critical in the imposition of the carbon tax... doesn't actually know what a tax is. Or what a customs duty is. Or what an excise is. And can't read a basic Budget table. 

It all started with Mr Oakeshott claiming the carbon tax wasn't a tax:

@chriskkenny I'm slurring? Chris-it's no tax.Show me on the ATO tax list where it says "carbon tax", and I'll eat a copy of The Oz as apology

— Robert Oakeshott MP (@OakeyMP) March 8, 2013

Now, while it is true that the there is a transition to an ETS (a even worse system than a pure carbon tax by the way), but to deny that revenue under the current system should not be treated as a tax is dishonest. Don't just take our word for it though. Look at what the Australian Treasury has to say, and how they categorise it:

Tax Receipts

Source: 2012-13 Budget Paper No 1, Appendix A: Australian Government general government (cash) receipts

As you can see, revenue is categorised into "taxation receipts" and "non-taxation receipts". If something generates tax revenue, it would be under taxation receipts. If it is not a tax, as Mr Oakeshott claims, it would be under "non-taxation receipts". The "carbon pricing mechanism" is clearly included under "taxation receipts", specifically under the sub-heading of "indirect taxes".

We see a similar thing in Budget Paper No 2, where it is listed in the taxation receipts section. The non-taxation receipts are spelled out and the CPRS is NOT one of them:

Tax Receipts 2

Source: 2012-13 Budget Paper No 1, Statement 5 Revenue 

We provided these links to Mr Oakeshott.

After we tweeted these to Mr Oakeshott, this was his response:

Okay, so, he clearly didn't read it properly.  So we tried to explain it to him again:

And this is where it becomes truly bizarre:

I'm not quite sure where to begin with this. Because it is clear from the first part of this that  Mr Oakeshott doesn't actually know what a tax is or what excise and customs duties are, and from the second part, that he can't read a basic table.

Firstly, by definition duties and excise are a type of tax. So yes, "by our logic" they are taxes, as they are included in the "taxation receipts" part of the budget, but not only is it listed as such above in the budget, The Australian Taxation Office specifically defines it as such:
Excise duty is a tax on certain types of goods produced or manufactured in Australia, including alcohol, tobacco, fuel and petroleum products. Equivalent customs duty is imposed on imported alcohol, tobacco, fuel and petroleum products (Source: ATO, Excise Essentials)

As does Wikipedia:
An excise or excise tax (sometimes called a duty of excise special tax) is an inland tax on the sale, or production for sale, of specific goods or a tax on a good produced for sale, or sold, within a country or licenses for specific activities. Excises are distinguished from customs duties, which are taxes on importation. Excises are inland taxes, whereas customs duties are border taxes. (Wikipedia)

They are also defined as a tax in the Oxford English Dictionary, the The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics, and the Business Dictionary

So yes, Mr Oakeshott, we ARE arguing that customs and excises are taxes. Not just because they they appear under that heading, but because they are defined as such by the ATO, dictionaries, and anyone else who knows what they are.

What is shocking is the fact that Mr Oakeshott does not know what a customs or excise duty is.

Just think about that for a minute. The man who holds the balance of power in the Federal House of Representatives does not know something any high school economics student could tell you. 

Secondly though, Mr Oakeshott is claiming that under our interpretation "even the non-tax receipts are now taxes". This is the exact OPPOSITE of our point. The table CLEARLY lists "non-tax receipts". It sets them out. It says what they are. See above.  The CPRS is NOT one of them! As we said, it is included under "taxation receipts". Mr Oakeshott apparently can't read a simple table.

So there we have it. The man who holds the balance of power in the Federal Parliament doesn't know what a tax is, doesn't know what an excise or customs duty is, and can't read a table.

Makes you proud to be an Australian, doesn't it?


UPDATE: Sorry, I forgot to include this tweet from earlier in our conversation which seems to show that Mr Oakeshott still couldn't understand the treasury chart or the fact that the CPRS is NOT under the non-taxation receipts category


UPDATE 2: Rob Oakshotte has conceded that he ought ask Treasury why the CPRS is included under tax receipts. Which is a step in the right direction, as at least he finally realised our point. At the end of the day though, it isn't really that important a point - its damaging effects on the Australian economy will be the same regardless of how Treasury categorises it. The main points of this post, of course, which was that a)Mr Oakeshott's blunder regarding customs and duties is simply inexcusable and b)he can't seem to read a simple chart from a budget document stand regardless...

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