Saturday salon 19/12

1. Almost 600 major corporations did not pay tax last financial year

Companies not paying tax include include Qantas, Virgin Australia, General Motors (owner of Holden), Vodafone, petrol company ExxonMobil, online betting shop William Hill, Warner Bros Entertainment, property developer Lend Lease and media company Ten Network Holdings.

Companies paying very little include Apple and Google.

Labor’s Andrew Leigh says the Government never wanted us to see the list.

Commissioner of Taxation Chris Jordan said releasing the data helped build community trust in the taxation system. I suspect the reverse is true.

The ABC gives reasons supplied by Grant Wardell-Johnson, KPMG tax expert as to why a company might not pay tax:

  • The ATO data looks at income before business costs, not profit after costs
  • 22 per cent of the companies in the total sample made a loss in 2013-14
  • 8 per cent had prior year losses that they could offset against current profits
  • 7 per cent had other offsets, such as franking credits
  • Companies claim depreciation on asset values and some claim research and development tax concessions
  • Some multinationals have already paid tax on income made overseas and do not have to pay tax on that income again here

I’d suggest it is impossible for the lay person to make an informed judgement.

2. Mid-year Economic and Fiscal Outlook 2015‑16

Treasurer Morrison handed down his MYEFO statement last week. The bottom line has gotten a bit worse:

Fiscal balance_image-20151215-23179-1ytqt4q_600

The Government has given up on a surplus:


What is there to say?

I think MYEFO 2015 is basically a holding exercise while the new team work out what they want to do. We best wait for the 2016 budget, which should include proposals to change the tax system and will almost certainly address bracket creep. Meanwhile they have continued the tradition of sticking it to those in need and proposing cuts that are unlikely to pass the Senate.

Debt is in danger of becoming a real and endemic problem in Australia.

The Conversation has a handy explainer. Here’s the story from the AAP and a News staff writer.

Rosemary Calder of the Australian Health Policy Collaboration looks at the health implications.

Ian McAuley points out that we have a ‘small government’ mania, which puts our spending below that of similar countries in the OECD.

Eventually, however, a country with “small government” becomes a country with an emaciated state, where kids are left uneducated and idle or in dead-end jobs, where the streets belong to criminals and beggars, where the parks are infested with weeds, where the roads are congested and potholed, and where diseases of the third world take hold. That is not a pleasant place to live, even for the well-off who retreat in fear to their gated communities.

Elsewhere, Peter Martin and Ross Gittins.

3. Le Pen’s National Front failed to win any regions in France

The National Front was defeated in all seats, gaining about 28 percent of the vote, while the Socialists drew 29 percent and the center-right Republicans captured 41 percent. In some regions the Socialist candidate stood down in a tactic to defeat the National Front. In the final vote 59 percent turned out, compared with 50 percent in the preliminary. The article comments:

    Le Pen has engaged in a years-long effort to overhaul the party started by her father, Jean-Marie, who embraced anti-Semitic views and minimized the Holocaust. Marine Le Pen has repackaged herself as a clarion voice for the working class and struggling small-business owners. She has buried many of the same messages as her father in friendlier language, such as emphasizing France’s secular values, a move that critics say is coded language that targets Muslims.

Defeated for now, but not finished, and certainly an influence on mainstream policy.

Michael White looks at the elites that run France. Dominique Moisi breathes a sigh of relief.

At Verso we find a more heavy duty analysis. The Left is finished as an anti-systemic force. It’s effort to stop the FN is purely and simply suicidal.

    Or rather, it marks the final, terminal phase of a process of subalternisation and digestion by a social-liberalism that has now turned into an ever more muscular, authoritarian neoliberalism.

4. Middle East mess

Christoph Reuter in Der Spiegel charts the ungodly mess in Syria and Iraq, with major interference by Iran, Turkey, Russia, and the USA and allies.

Some commenters to the article claim it is grossly inaccurate. Frankly I wouldn’t know, but I doubt reality is simpler than what is portrayed.

It seems that we have a bunch of actors where ‘my enemy’s enemy is my friend’ and surprising instances of cooperation are turning up.

Assad’s army is turning into a motley mess, with Revolutionary Guards from Iran, members of Iraqi militias and Hezbollah units from Lebanon, plus Shiite Afghans from Hazara people living in Iran, mostly as illegal immigrants, forcibly conscripted in Iranian prisons and sent to Syria.

    Iranian officers control their own troops in addition to the Afghan units, and they plan offensives that also involve Syrian soldiers. Hezbollah commanders coordinate small elite units under their control. Iraqis give orders to Iraqi and Pakistani militia groups. And the Russians don’t let anyone tell them what to do.

It’s hard to see how peace could be brokered and what form it could take.

Introduction to Saturday salon

Because of the way the blog currently presents posts on the home page I think it’s better to remove the introductory material to a different place. For new readers, here’s the rationale for this space.


An open thread where, at your leisure, you can discuss anything you like, well, within reason and the Comments Policy. Include here news and views, plus any notable personal experiences from the week and the weekend.

For climate topics please use the most recent Climate clippings.

The gentleman in the image is Voltaire, who for a time graced the court of Frederick II of Prussia, known as Frederick the Great. King Fred loved to talk about the universe and everything at the end of a day’s work. He also used the salons of Berlin to get feedback in the development of public policy.

Fred would only talk in French; he regarded German as barbaric. Here we’ll use English.

The thread will be a stoush-free zone. The Comments Policy says:

    The aim [of this site] is to provide a venue for people to contribute and to engage in a civil and respectful manner.

16 thoughts on “Saturday salon 19/12”

  1. Can we find info on the taxes payed by companies other than company profit tax, like payroll tax, CGT, FBT…..?

    I would note that Government run entities pay no tax of any form, but rather subsidised by $Billions, a total negative effect on the budget,
    Think ABC.

  2. ‘Fraid not, in answer to your first question.

    The ABC keeps me sane, so the net effect on the budget may be positive!

  3. I would note that Government run entities pay no tax of any form, but rather subsidised by $Billions, a total negative effect on the budget,

    So the way to stop government services from being a drain on the budget is to require them to pay company tax.
    I’m surprised the University of Chicago hasn’t been in touch with you.

  4. Come to think of it, why tax public servants? Just pay them less, tax free, and save the churning!

  5. Or, while we’re using left logic to solve problems, nationalise all the companies on that list that are domestic and 100% tax the offshore ones to pay for it.

  6. I find that ABCs managing director, Mark Scott salary for 2014 was $833,000
    Cant yet find ABCs chairman James Spiegelmans ( Senior Advisor and Principal Private Secretary to the Prime Minister Gough Whitlam.) renumeration.

    Anyone know of either mans taxable income and eventual ” monetary contribution ” back to us ?

  7. You seem to be lurching towards the argument that Scott and Spiegelman have a moral obligation to pay tax whilst Costco and News Corpse don’t.
    It won’t fly in Australia, where Sir Garfield Barwick’s proudest achievement was to make paying tax no longer a moral obligation, but merely a legal one (he used to brag about it).

  8. I don’t think the Syrian problem will be resolved unless it is accepted that the country should be split into a number of countries including Sunni, Shiite/Alawite/ and Kurdish areas. Much the same can be said for Iraq.
    The idea that the colonial split up after the defeat of the Turkish empire at the end of WWI somehow should be enshrined for ever is arrogant colonial nonsense.
    Iraq and Syria only “worked” when they had strongmen like Saddam and Assad holding the countries together and protecting minorities. Not something that we should be wishing on anyone.

  9. Jumpy: The cult of the CEO and the obsession with short term additions to “shareholder value” has resulted in obscene CEO salaries. While this is happening in the private sector CEO’s in the public sector need to be paid something similar to compete for good people. (The next ABC CEO comes from Google in Singapore.)
    You have this quaint idea that employment in the public service is something like working for a charity.

  10. Zoot, you seem to be happy to invent my argument and my solutions to problems you invent I claim.

    You don’t need me or anyone else for a conversation.

    Even so, I will state that you* are free to boycott any of the afore mentioned Companies and pay nothing, not so with Government run entities.

    (* If you’re a net taxpayer, of course. If you’re not, you should thank someone that is. )

  11. You have this quaint idea that employment in the public service is something like working for a charity.

    Jonh, see first sentence of my last comment.

  12. Jumpy: Your simple scheme to finance NATIONALIZATION is absolutely brilliant; it is one way to make the damned corporate cowboys pay any tax at all. Let’s do it.

    Gentlefolk: Far more important the comings-and-goings of the FN in France is the Spanish elections. It is a you-beaut model of what can happen in Australia when voters and taxpayers here finally do get fed up with being ripped off by the good old “Two Party Preferred”.

  13. Graham, yes, the Spanish election did turn out to be more than a little interesting. I’ll do an item on it for the next Saturday Salon.

  14. Ta, Brian …. or rather …. esta bien, muchas gracias.

    And now for a provocative, politically incorrect, old-fashioned statement:
    Merry Christmas, Good People! 🙂

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