Speaking at Xerocon 2019, ATO second commissioner Jeremy Hirschhorn said that while the Tax Office always welcomes feedback when it implements new changes, it is hoping for the “quiet majority” to stand up and acknowledge good changes to the system, rather than letting negative voices dominate the discussion.
“When there is change coming, and you think this is actually a good change, maybe a little bit of a hump to get there, but it’s a good change and it will improve the system, and you see people who are saying, ‘This is the end of the world, it’s a disaster’ — they’re very noisy. Please don’t stand by and let them be the only ones shouting,” Mr Hirschhorn said.
“The way the system works is you need voices. If you think it’s a great idea, put up your hand and say it’s a great idea to balance out the naysayers, because otherwise, the way the political circle works, it listens to the volume.
“If there are only voices on one side, things don’t happen. Good ideas can die very easily if people don’t put up their hand and say that’s actually a really good idea.”
He added: “The boy who cried wolf problem is real.”
Mr Hirschhorn’s request followed comments from fellow panellist Karen Lay-Brew, director at the Australian Business Software Industry Association, who noted that the introduction of Single Touch Payroll had teething problems despite the good intentions that the new change had sought to bring about.
The implementation of STP has been a divisive point for practitioners and their clients, with some commending the move to make payroll digital, and others questioning the costs involved for small businesses.
Jotham Lian is the editor of Accountants Daily, the leading source of breaking news, analysis and insight for Australian accounting professionals.
Before joining the team in 2017, Jotham wrote for a range of national mastheads including the Sydney Morning Herald, and Channel NewsAsia.