Treasurer Joe Hockey was aware of the broad content of Martin Parkinson's speech before he delivered it. His personal position on the goods and services tax remains unchanged.
Along with Tony Abbott, Hockey spent the entire election campaign never entirely ruling out an expanded GST. Why would he when he was about to commission a tax review that would examine everything?
Hockey has had the report of the National Commission of Audit for six weeks now. If it too has suggested an expanded GST it is something we are going have to take seriously.
At 10 per cent, Australia's GST is embarrassingly low by international standards. New Zealand started at 10 and went to 12.5 and then 15.
Britain began at 10 and now has 20. Germany has 19 per cent, France 19.6 per cent, China 17 per cent. Parkinson believes the alternative to broadening or lifting our GST is to leave it alone and abandon the semi-regular income tax cuts we have come to expect.
Without them, inflation would push all of us into higher and higher tax brackets. Low and middle earners would suffer the most. And the tax system itself would be brought into disrepute. Australians would try to avoid work or avoid tax.
A broader GST covering currently exempt services such as private health and private education would fix a hole in the tax system and get serious money from Australians with serious money.
It's worth talking about.
A higher rate of GST would also hurt low earners, although perhaps not by much more, and it wouldn't make the tax system a joke.