News & Current Affairs
30 September 2014
by Kaye Lee
Bill Shorten has said “The only thing standing in the way of Tony Abbott winning another term in 2016 is our ability to stand together.”
I don’t want to just be part of a group standing there waiting for Abbott to implode. I want to rage against every injustice. I want to expose the lies and hypocrisy. I want to discuss what we must do to protect vulnerable people and a vulnerable planet. Instead of the future of the budget, I want vision for the future of society to become the narrative. I want our priorities reassessed.
The increasing level of government secrecy is very concerning. They have given themselves the right to snoop on all of us at the same time as legislating to convict journalists and whistleblowers who report on things that might embarrass our government, now called “special intelligence operations”, and designated as such by a politician.
This was supported by both major parties, as was the dismissal of the need for any form of federal ICAC.
Free Trade Agreements will be negotiated in secret but other countries’ private discussions will be bugged, not that we can report on that anymore.
Buying entry to a Minister’s office is acceptable. Running campaigns is a costly business and if we didn’t get the money from developers and lobby groups then the public would have to pay for us to run.
Corruption? What corruption? We don’t need no stinkin’ oversight!
We have seen this government’s willingness to circumvent high court rulings in cases regarding asylum seekers and school chaplains. Environmental protections are falling faster than old growth trees.
If the law is to be ignored, or changed without debate, and the journalists are silenced, we have created a fertile environment for exploitation.
Speaking of which, did you hear the one about companies paying tax? No? Neither did I.
Both major parties want to decrease company tax. Gillard delayed it when the mining tax raised less than expected but Hockey is not only giving up the revenue from the mining tax, he also said in his budget speech:
“To improve business opportunities, we are cutting company tax by 1.5 percentage points for around 800,000 businesses.”
One wonders why both parties consider this a priority when a recently released report shows companies gave themselves a far bigger cut by hiring good accountants. The report claims up to $80 billion was foregone by the taxman between 2004 and 2013.
“Almost 60 per cent of the ASX 200 declare subsidiaries in tax havens. For example, global broadcaster 21st Century Fox has 117 and logistics group Toll Holdings 72 in low-tax jurisdictions, including Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands and Singapore.
Nearly a third of companies have an average “effective tax rate” of 10 per cent or less.
James Hardie pays an effective rate of 0 per cent tax, Sydney Airport 2 per cent and Echo Entertainment – owner of Sydney’s Star Casino – a mere 5 per cent.”
When asked about the report this morning, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said Australia had some of the toughest anti-tax avoidance laws in the world. Oh really? I can tell you from personal experience, they pursue someone who gets overpaid on Family Tax Benefit far more assiduously than they do our big players who are being offered an amnesty if they just come home…all’s forgiven. Taking on a team of lawyers and accountants is far harder than pursuing someone who underestimated their future yearly earnings by $1000.
But the most disappointing display of bipartisanship for me is watching Richard Marles compete with Scott Morrison for the credit for the “PNG solution”. I refuse to believe there is no better way. Why can’t we process people in Indonesia and Malaysia and fly them here? If this is about “breaking the business model of the people smugglers”, who’s going to pay to risk their lives on a leaky boat if they can fly Qantas?
Instead we send families and unaccompanied children to Nauru who are officially out of cash.
“Nauru’s finance minister says the country is out of money and services will soon start shutting down, including those for refugees.”
Or Cambodia whose corrupt officials are rubbing their hands together at the promise of $40 million to take 5 people on trial.
Or PNG where they are supposed to resettle peacefully with the locals who beat one of them to death and sent many more to hospital.
Foreign Aid has morphed into bribes to absolve ourselves of our responsibility as a signatory to the Refugee Convention.
So Mr Shorten, there are a few reasons why I cannot currently stand together with you. At the moment I see us flying united in the wrong direction for the wrong reasons. If you would like to take a step or two towards integrity then perhaps we can meet somewhere and talk turkey.