By Janine Perrett

Perhaps we all just need to calm down a bit.

And yes, that includes commentators like myself.

We have all bought into the hysteria over the tax debate recently so that for a moment, everyone from the politicians to the pundits probably needs to take a chill pill.

I too was quick off the mark to question this week's "revolutionary" tax idea - namely allowing the states to levy an income tax.

It seemed like yet another balloon being floated in an effort to appear to be doing something big.

Let us not forget that for most of this year, short as it has been so far, new PM Turnbull was being attacked by commentators for not doing enough about tax.

The very thought that he had not rushed into some radical reform proposal was seen as weakness and the beginning of the end of his honeymoon.

The plunging polls seemed to confirm the narrative or else were simply self perpetuating.

Whether that was what pushed him into such a radical idea is a moot point.

As someone who did not hold with the "he must be seen to be doing something" line of attack, I now wish we could all take a good long breath.

Unfortunately with only weeks to go before an election could be announced it seems all a bit rushed for such a complex debate.

As the head of the Tax Council warned recently, the lead-up to an election is probably not the best time to be proposing major tax reform.

Or at least the wrong time to only be developing your ideas in public and not have a firm and clear plan with time to sell to the confused electorate. 

In the space of weeks they've had spin on everything from a GST rise, to super, CGT and negative gearing changes and last week it was a rise in company tax touted as the answer to all our economic woes.

Now this.

It will be hard enough for even the experts to get their head around the complex changes to the federal taxing powers, much less testing the Treasurers' renowned selling powers as seen by yesterday's confusion over the exact message on whether income tax would rise or not.

In the heat of an election campaign with so many other issues to be considered by the electorate, this could be a godsend for the Labor Party.

It certainly makes a mockery of Tony Abbott's recent efforts to paint Labor as the party of higher taxes with their new policies to reform superannuation and negative gearing.

By going for something as ambitious as this latest proposal one wonders whether that means PM Turnbull has given up on much needed reform in those crucial areas as well.

Safe and steady reform in obvious policy areas is obviously not bold enough for the innovative and agile PM.

Yet the electorate might not be able to move quite as quickly as he hopes.

While we are not as stupid as some politicians take us for, we might not be as nimble as our Maximum Leader.

One might wonder why doling out income tax revenue to the states could not be done through a better share of the GST under the existing system.

Or if the hard sell is that this will allow the states access to funds for crucial health and education, why not simply broaden the GST to those areas and give the states that revenue?

Too simple perhaps. And then there was the even more obvious solution of adding GST to the fast growing financial services sector.

And don't even mention what the Government so cynically claims will the centre-piece of the campaign over the Senate and the ABCC legislation. 

Like that's going to be Labor's push, rather than a scare campaign on higher income tax down the road thanks to your even less worthy state Governments.

To return to my opening about calming down - I'm not actually sure the general voting public have been clamouring for major tax reform each time they awake, even though the Business Council of Australia and commentators portrayed dismay each day a brave new proposal had not emerged.

 

So as the heady federal election days loom large, they might just want everyone in Canberra, from the PM down, to take a Bex and a good lie down.