New Queensland Commissioner, Simon McKee!!

Simon McKee The Queensland State Commissioner

Simon McKee (pictured) is the new Commissioner of State Revenue, Queensland. Simon was appointed effective from 24 August 2023: see Qld. Gov. Gazette, No.90, page 621 (QGG).

The Tax Reformer (TTR) hopes the new Commissioner will bring about change at the Queensland Revenue Office (QRO). But TTR asks the big question: if the new Commissioner is a reformer, then can he weather the forces, the forces encountered by all Commissioners wanting the status quo to remain as is?

As Sir Humphrey said: “The civil [public] service generally hopes there will be no movement on any subject”: Yes, Prime Minister, Bernard is a great help.

Now, let’s hope that Simon will implement urgent reforms for such things as the Queensland Revenue Office’s administration, the quality of consultation that the QRO initiates, the quality of the legislation it initiates, the extent and quality of the public education it is responsible for in order to clear out the systemic dysfunctionality that has plagued QRO for years and years to implement the Rule of Law, especially provisions of the Legislative Standards Act 1992 highlighted in The Monthly Report of August 2023. LinkedIn lists his education as including a Master of Law (Commercial) from Melbourne University and Executive Fellow, Australian and New Zealand School of Government so, the new Commissioner has the fire power to do good!

The Tax Reformer has found Simon to be a straight shooter, measured and fair.

But the appointment notice only states the appointment date. Usually these appointments are for 5 years, 5 years to bring about massive changes starting with culture which is a top down thing. For those wanting no change, they simply put their tin hats on, bunker down and let any reforming zeal to go over the top and then the old ways come out again!

So, please Mr. Commissioner start out your term by declaring publicly:

  • Your term will see a commitment to the Rule of Law in all aspects of tax legislation and tax administration;
  • Your term will see the Legislative Standards Act 1992 implemented;
  • Your term will see the issues raised by these Monthly Reports addressed as a matter of urgency.

Mr. Commissioner, you only have to go to the previous issues of the Monthly Reports (for example, May 2023) to see what is crying out for reform:

  • Evidence that adherence to the Rule of Law is paramount as required by section 4 (4) (c) of the Legislative Standards Act 1992;
  • Root and branch review of the operations of each State and Territories revenue office compared with the structure and operations of the ATO;
  • Root and branch review of the operations of the State and Territories revenue office within a federal system and the extent that that has on costs of commerce and business;
  • Adopt the ATO protocol for the introduction of new legislation to achieve more accountability in the revenue offices around the jurisdictions;
  • Install an equivalent of the ATO Inspector General of Tax in all jurisdictions;
  • Make the revenue offices accountable to the equivalent of a Board of Directors;
  • Redraft sections of Acts which are simply low grade (see, for example, s. 12 of the Duties Act 2001 (Q):
  • Get the matrimonial exceptions updated and properly interrelated with the Family Law Act exemptions;
  • Define what a partner’s interest is, especially in the context of Chapter 10, Part 1, taking notice of the High Court case of Commissioner of State Revenue v Rojoda Pty Ltd [2020] HCA 7;
  • Undertake a complete review of the Public Rulings, many of which are wrong and others unclear or out of date;
  • Redraft s. 70 to take away the contortions of language in section 70 (1) (c) for What is a widely held unit trust;
  • Establish an “Ex-gratia Register” and an “Administrative Arrangements Register” (and publish those Registers on the QRO website) so all taxpayers can get the benefit of any exemptions or concessions granted to others; this practice is contrary to the Rule of Law;
  • Publish the legislation program;
  • Publish the Public Rulings program;

… and on and on …

Over to you. Mr. Commissioner!! Best of luck!!

A cartoon in which the new Queensland commissioner pulls along a heavy load of reforms in a box