A note from the President: celebrating our unsung heroes

President Tim Neilson, CTA, reflects on the 34th National Convention.

March is apparently often the best time of year in Hobart, and the weather was certainly kind to us.
But, as usual at the Institute’s National Convention, there was so much going on indoors that only those lucky enough to have tacked some extra days on to their trip (or to live there year-round) would have got the full benefit of the sun and the ambient temperature.

It’s invidious to select any specific speakers as having been outstanding, especially since I couldn’t be at three places at once during the breakout sessions (much as I would have liked to), and so didn’t see a number of sessions that I’m aware were excellent.

So I’d certainly like to thank all our speakers, panelists, session chairs, and of course unsung heroes who do a lot of the research and writing behind the scenes to make the presentations special.

But I want to note our special thanks to a few people.

Commissioner of Taxation Chris Jordan, CTA always makes time on his busy calendar to engage with us at the National Convention and always holds the audience inimitably. We’re grateful to Chris, and to all the ATO presenters, for helping us make the National Convention the premier annual event for the tax community.

Mitch McPherson of the suicide prevention charity “SPEAK UP! Stay ChatTY” was also riveting as he reminded us that there are issues more important than tax. (Yes, really.)

The Assistant Treasurer Stuart Robert was also generous with his time and his advice, especially his response to an enquiry about a long-delayed “announced but unenacted” tightening up of the tax laws, that “sometimes it’s better not to ask”. 
Tim Neilson, CTA

And it was great to close the Convention with recently retired Inspector General of Taxation Ali Noroozi displaying his trademark candour, insight and humour.

Another highlight was of course getting to meet all the finalists in the Tax Adviser of the Year awards and to be part of the presentation of certificates to all of them and the trophies to the winners. The finalists epitomised a number of qualities which the Institute strives to promote within the tax community, in particular diversity, excellence and collegiality.

One of the Institute’s great strengths is bringing together tax people of widely diverse backgrounds, experiences, roles in tax and points of view, and our finalists certainly showcased that aspect of what the Institute is about.

I’m sure everyone who was there would appreciate, even from the very brief CV’s that were presented for each finalist, the excellence that each of them has achieved in their careers, and also the great contribution to the tax system that they make.

One thing that struck me when each of our finalists spoke, and again when the winners accepted their trophies, was how much emphasis they all placed on the benefits they got from colleagues and other mentors and how much benefit they got from getting involved and contributing to
the tax community.

We were recognising them for their achievements and contributions, but they all clearly focussed not on their own accomplishments but on others who had helped them.

I’m sure that that resonated with all Institute members who were present. It’s one of the things that makes tax such a rewarding career.

And the National Convention was a great place to remind ourselves of that.

Tim Neilson is a Special Counsel of Greenwoods & Freehills Pty Limited in Melbourne. He is a legal practitioner who practices primarily in the area of income tax and capital gains tax, generally for "large business and international" type clients, mainly in financing, major projects and M&A. Tim is the 2019 President of The Tax Institute, and is a former State Chairman and current National Councillor. He has published frequently in professional journals and spoken at professional organisation conferences and seminars and guest lectures in the University of Melbourne's Masters of Laws program.


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