PRIME ministerial aspirant Clive Palmer wants to see a return to the good old days of the long lunch, claiming it would give people a chance to "come up with ideas" and would stimulate the restaurant industry.
However, Queensland's peak business body has suggested there are many higher tax reform priorities than changing the tax treatment of lunches, and Australian business culture had moved on from boozy lunches.
The Palmer United Party leader told reporters in Canberra he wanted to abolish the fringe benefits tax on business lunches introduced in 1985.
Mr Palmer said the introduction of the FBT killed the weekday lunch trade, adding the PUP policy would stimulate the restaurant industry, create jobs and get people out of their offices.
"For too long people have stayed ... rabbited in their offices not talking to each other about what can be done," Mr Palmer said.
"If we go back to our economy in the '70s and the '80s we see it was much more vibrant, there were more things happening.
"We want to encourage people to have more interaction, to come up with more ideas about where this country should go."
Mr Palmer said the policy had been costed, but would not be drawn on the price tag.
Chamber of Commerce and Industry general manager of advocacy Nick Behrens said tax reform was an important discussion that Australia needed.
"Unfortunately, we haven't seen any follow-up from the Ken Henry review of the tax system," Mr Behrens said.
"Our tax system is no longer meeting the needs of a modern economy. It's good that our economy has grown, evolved and changed over the last 20 or 30 years but unfortunately our tax system has not."
Mr Behrens said there were many areas of the tax system that needed reform but "the FBT on lunches is nowhere near the top".
"The reality is I think the decline of business lunches is more of a reflection of the time-poor nature of executives in the modern economy. The meetings that we have are all over a coffee and they are compressed," he said.
"The restaurant trade would benefit from the lifting of the Fringe Benefits Tax on lunches and I suspect so would the personal training industry."
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