One guy prosecuted for allegedly running a company while bankrupt, ten Crown directors off scot free for washing $70bn through casinos for Chinese Triads, drug and sex traffickers and other assorted criminals. One rule for rich and powerful, another for the rest. Michael West reports on the world of deluxe double standards.Crown v Shannon: bigwigs off the hook, small fish fried – Michael West
Where are the US billionaires, the Wall Streeters, the Big Four tax firms Deloitte, EY, KPMG, PwC? Michael West explores the mystery of the Pandora Papers in this first of a two-part series.
Unless they disclose who got it, JobKeeper will remain a giant festering stain on the reputation of big business in Australia. Michael West reports on business’s greatest shame.
“You are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else, you were born into bondage. Into a prison that you cannot taste or see or touch. A prison for your mind” – Morpheus, The Matrix.
Lendlease has finally admitted the Tax Office is conducting an audit on its $1 billion double dipping scam, while paying zero tax again in Australia.
“Freedom’s always worth it,” said Scott Morrison. “What a waste,” said the father who had lost his son in Afghanistan. Afghanistan, Iraq, Vietnam. Tasha May totes up the immense cost of futile wars and the immense profits.
Trust in government has never been so low. This crisis in public confidence is driven by the widespread perception that politics is corrupt and politicians and government have failed to be accountable. The sports rorts and the travel expenses rorts are just two major scandals that have again led to calls for a federal independent integrity commission. Below are a number of stories highlighting political misconduct over the past several years. Few have been investigated, even fewer properly investigated. None have been prosecuted. QED – Quod Erat Demonstrandum – “so it has been demonstrated”. This compilation of allegations is, in itself, hard proof that Australia needs a federal corruption commission to hold government to account! We’ll keep adding to the list. If you have something, to add, please get in touch.
The sudden, global move to tax carbon puts billions of Australian coal and gas exports at risk, indeed this country’s largest sources of income. Hard on the heels of the EU’s carbon border tax declaration, the US declared a carbon border scheme. Others are poised to follow. Callum Foote and Michael West report on the immense risk to Australia’s largest source of income.
The trees were cut down, the profits of timber exporters have been rising strongly, yet the losses of VicForests are spiralling. What’s the scam?
Noise pollution from drilling for oil and gas offshore devastates marine life, affecting not only food sources but oxygen levels. But neither the federal government nor NOPSEMA, which has environmental responsibility for approving offshore projects, takes such damage into account. Suzanne Arnold reports.
The mining industry has exaggerated its contribution in taxes and royalties to Australian governments by an estimated $45 billion over the past 10 years. Callum Foote reports on the findings of an independent research project by Michael West Media.
It is 1986. A blood test to screen for non A, non B Hepatitis, costing just 5 cents per test, has been shown to significantly reduce the amount of contaminated blood being collected and given to people needing transfusions. It is not a specific test, so it also rules out a small percentage of healthy donors due to occasional false positive results. Blood banks throughout the US are using the test for medical, ethical and legal reasons. What was Australia to do? Queensland’s Blood Service started using the test but no other Australian blood service did so. Many thousands of people were infected as a result. Elizabeth Minter reports in this third of her series on Australia’s infected blood scandal.
It is embarrassing enough that the government is even considering PEP11, the proposal to drill for gas directly off the coast of Australia’s most populous beaches and wealthiest economic zone. The final decision rests with Resources Minister Keith Pitt. Luke Stacey and Michael West report.
The highest level of home care support for older Australians costs $52,000. This $1000 a week buys, on average, less than nine hours of support. There’s plenty of skimming going on by aged care providers, some of whom are the nation’s biggest corporatised charities. With the budget expected to boost the number of home care packages without demanding any oversight, providers will be rubbing their hands with glee. Dr Sarah Russell reports.
what’s the scam Google: What’s the Scam? by Michael West | May 1, 2021 Google Australia raked in $5.2bn revenue last year and paid the Tax Office … drumroll … zero income tax. What’s the scam? The scam used to be that Google simply pretended its income from selling services in Australia to Australians really belonged overseas so it invoiced straight from Singapore. No revenue here, ergo no tax. Now the scam is how they define revenue. They claim their revenue is $1.4bn but, buried in a footnote is the admission that gross revenue last year was actually $5.2bn. GST mysteriously plunged from $114m to $43m and “service fees” to foreign associates stomped in at an heroic $3.8bn. They actually paid $133m in tax in 2019. That’s $133m more than Rupert Murdoch’s News Australia Holdings paid in six years. But they’re back to their dodgy old ways – paying no tax again. Although they recorded a tax charge of $53m – this is what they claim they paid, their cashflow statement shows income tax received (not paid) of $22m last year. They got a tax benefit. That’s the scam.
And in true Orwellian Doublespeak, Prime Minister Scott Morrison used the war footing to paint himself as the champion of peace. Michael Tanner reports. It’s been a while since the government actually announced a policy and that drought looks set to continue. Because even though there was blanket media coverage of the fact that the federal government is planning a big budget spend, the government once again delivered that announcement via “a cosy briefing to a tight crew of chosen Canberra-based journalists“. And the cosy crew dutifully did their bit, with near-identical articles posted almost simultaneously late on Wednesday night, each regurgitating Josh Frydenberg’s draft speech, with reports of what the Treasurer “will say” littered throughout their publications. The only difference this time from previous drops was that the circle has expanded beyond The Australian, The Australian Financial Review, The Age/SMH, The Conversation, ABC and The Guardian. Rupert Murdoch’s tabloids are now also getting looped in, with The Adelaide Advertiser, The Daily Telegraph, The Herald Sun and The Courier Mail all getting the drops, all running segments of the Treasurer’s upcoming speech,
Results from opinion polls are regularly accorded more weight than they deserve, particularly given that their methodology is not transparent; their language can shape answers; and only a small percentage of those contacted respond. Yet polls may also independently shape voting choices. Michael Tanner reports.
Australia is building a slew of new coal projects just as global demand for coal is in retreat. It’s justified by “independent expert” reports from the likes of Big Four firms Deloitte and EY. Luke Stacey and Michael West report on the flawed economics and compromised reports of the consultants.
The Coalition government’s signature employment policy for young people JobMaker has created just 609 jobs. And thanks to the flawed design of JobKeeper, which shut out many young people from key financial support, superannuation accounts were emptied, for which the young will pay a heavy price down the track. Kathryn Daley, Belinda Johnson and Patrick O’Keefe report.
State of Surveillance: Online Safety Bill captures the bad stuff but Commissioner’s powers too broad
The Online Safety Bill, if passed in its current form, could further undermine political accountability by ensuring footage of police violence or human rights abuses, for example, is taken down. That the government is not listening to concerns about the bill’s wide powers suggests some of the consequences may be intended. Samantha Floreani reports.
Well may Scott Morrison tear up as he relates how his daughters, wife and widowed mother drive his every decision. The facts are that every move of the Coalition government ensures women are poorer, more insecure at work and more vulnerable to violence on the job. The Industrial Relations bill pushed through last week is a final nail in the coffin for women. Alison Pennington reports.Crocodile tears no mask for Coalition’s economic war on women – Michael West
Lendlease’s tax scam rivals the biggest heists of the century – alongside Rupert Murdoch, Chevron and Macquarie Bank. Yet its effects are spreading from a mere rip on the ATO to the nurses and teachers fund Aware Super which just acquired a chunk of retirement village assets. If Lendlease can ‘double dip’ on tax deductions, then anybody can. It opens up the Tax Office to millions of amended assessments. Michael West reports.Teachers and nurses fund Aware Super now exposed to Lendlease retirement village rorts as Tax Office dawdles – Michael West
Eight people are competing for every available job yet the Morrison Governmentcontinues to blame people themselves for being unemployed, putting the Coalition in breach of a key international treaty for as long as it refuses to raise JobSeeker to the poverty line. A Senate Committee hands down its report into JobSeeker when Parliament resumes next week. A clear commitment to increase the rate by of $250 a fortnight is vital to put pressure on the Government to do the right thing, legally and morally. Emma Dawson reports.JobSeeker Hypocrisy: ‘rule of law’ for Porter but not for those below poverty line – Michael West
Energy Minister Angus Taylor’s plan to turn brown coal into a hydrogen export market to save the La Trobe Valley, which he described as a “significant project”, defies financial credibility, writes Brian Toohey.Hydrogen Hype: Angus Taylor’s last throw of the dice for brown coal – Michael West
The most rampant era of welfare rorting in Australia’s history draws to a close at the end of the month when the JobKeeper scheme ends. Luke Stacey and Michael West investigate some of the big grifters and how they pulled it off … while we await a response from Business Council of Australia.
Compare Pink Bats with Aged Care, Education, Child Care, JobKeeper, NBN, Corporate Wage Theft, Grants for Votes and Rorts like water rights then ask whose policies enabled the greatest harm and cost to Australia. Who increased the income and wealth gaps and assisted the biggest crimes ever documented to happen without policing or consequences that resulted in the destruction of the health and deaths of its citizens? Pink Bats was a mistake the LNP’s 8 years has been criminal intent. (ODT)The Big Grift: How the Top End of Town rorted Jobkeeper – Michael West
Is the Covid-19 vaccine the Liberal Party’s vaccine or the Australian Government’s vaccine? It’s not their money but the Liberal Party has its logo plastered across advertisements for millions in Government grants. This #AdRort campaign is but the latest in a grotesque throng of rorts, such that this must surely be the most corrupt government in Australia’s history. Elizabeth Minter and Michael West report.AdRorts: the latest corrupt practice in a prodigious body of Coalition dirty work – Michael West
How could 94% of the millions which made their way to political parties be deemed, not to be ‘Donations’, but instead ‘Other’? Is it a joke? Luke Stacey and Michael West investigate the bad joke which is dark money in Australian politics.The Mysterious ‘Other’: political donations and the devil in the detailed receipts – Michael West
When Scott Morrison became prime minister in 2018, the Coalition poured an extra $4.6 billion over a decade into Catholic and independent schools. Productivity Commission figures released this week show government funding for non-government schools continues to grow at a faster rate than for public schools. Judging by statements the new federal Education Minister Alan Tudge made to Parliament, that inequality will deepen. Lyndsay Connors reports‘Intruders’ not welcome: Coalition to decide who is worthy of education funding – Michael West
Spruiking the Coalition’s 2020 tax cuts; Australians’ ‘$200 billion’ war chest; Google’s experiments; free speech; and even a Liberal Party self-congratulatory piece on the NBN. Michael Tanner checks out the past week in the mainstream media.Tamed Estate: media kicks of 2021 copying and pasting government “drops” – Michael West
The silencing of environmental scientists, as revealed in a study late last year, profoundly damages our democracy, wastes taxpayers’ money, takes a huge personal toll, allows fake news to proliferate and short-changes the public. Elizabeth Minter reports.Australia’s environmental scientists intimidated, silenced by threats of job loss – Michael West
Old media caps off annus horribilis 2020 with its traditional horrible week. Michael West, standing in for Michael Tanner, looks at the fall of Fairfax, PR masquerading as journalism, who guards the Guardian, Seven News’ calls for war with China and how Scott Morrison’s media team has the game sown up.Faustian Pact: no way back from public relations for News and Nine – Michael West
Have Australia’s wealthiest old families bought off the political process? Despite myriad attempts over the years to repeal the cosy “grandfathering” exemption, the billionaires are still permitted – like no other Australians – to keep their companies “dark”. Today Michael West Media unveils the first in a series of investigations by Luke Stacy and Stephanie Tran involving more than 5,000 corporate searches to find the people and the labyrinthine structures behind the Secret Rich List. Luke Stacey and Michael West report.Inside Australia’s Secret Rich List – Michael West
Brookfield’s make-up artists are hard at work. They’ve taken “coal” out of the title, hired every broker in town to flog the thing and, in the most telling move, are rushing to get the deal done before the end of the year. Michael West reports on the ASX float of Dalrymple Infrastructure, which looks set to siphon off Aussie cash to an offshore haven, with yield-hungry retirees paying the price.Coal Deal in Distress: desperate Dalrymple’s dodgy debt dump – Michael West
Locking out visitors has made it difficult for staff to meet the daily care needs of residents. What an indictment on aged care providers. They receive billions a year in funding, yet rely on the unpaid work of family/friends and volunteers. Surely it is time for complete accountability for their government funding, writes Dr Sarah Russell.No strings attached: aged care providers have the Coalition wrapped around their little fingers – Michael West
“Australians know there is no money tree,” said Treasurer Josh Frydenberg at the apogee of the coronavirus in May. But there is. The Reserve Bank is creating money out of thin air. It’s called QE. Michael West reports on the latest fruits to fall from Josh’s fertile money tree, particularly free cash from a hitherto hidden measure in the Budget.Zombie Cash-Splash: Treasurer ramps up orgy of corporate hand-outs – Michael West
Charities pay top dollar for dinner with Gladys Berejiklian despite regulator’s no-no to political donations by Michael West | Oct 15, 2020 | Business The Liberal Party is harvesting tens of thousands of dollars in donations from registered children’s charities and charities for the disabled. Michael West reports.Home – Michael West
In Part 1 of her three-part investigation, Michelle Fahy investigates the corporate influence on government policy and how weapons makers cultivate relationships with politicians and top officials in the public service.‘Culture of Cosiness’: colossal conflicts of interest in Defence spending blitz – Michael West
And let’s put the $1.5 billion in perspective. Just last month $1.9 billion was announced for a 10-year plan to invest in technologies to lower emissions, while far more is to be given away in futile tax cuts to the already-well off.Manufacturing Announceables: malaise needs more than a bag of goodies – Michael West
WHAT does all this mean for Australia? Defence gives an average price of less than $126 million for Australia’s 72 F-35s when fully operational by 2023. It is the ongoing costs of maintenance and support that are the killer. The Australian Strategy Policy Institute estimates the sustainment costs to be triple those of the F-18 fighters it replaces. Bloomberg reported this month that the confidential estimates of the Pentagon’s Cost Analysis Unit now put the F-35’s life cycle operating and sustainment costs at $US1.723 trillion in 2020 dollars – easily the most expensive weapons program in history. It says that $1.266 trillion of the $US1.723 trillion is for operations and support and the rest for the initial acquisition cost. On this basis, the life cycle cost in current dollars for Australia’s F 35s will be approximately $(A)475 million per plane. The sustainment costs are so high it’s likely the US will keep cutting the total number of planes it buys from its proposed 2400, thus adding to unit costs.King of Lemons: Australia swindled by Lockheed Martin and its Joint Strike Fighter – Michael West
There are those who do back-flips, and triple backward somersaults with a twist. Then there is Communications Minister Paul Fletcher. The saga of the National Broadband Network continues as the Government this week announced a large-scale upgrade to fibre, heralding it as “an idea whose time has finally come”. It’s cost $14.5 billion more than budget, is under-performing and now the Government wants to spend another $3.5 billion to upgrade it, while competition looms. Australia is ranked 50 in internet speed worldwide. We’re well below almost every country in Europe and North America and many including ‘developing’ countries in South-East Asia. And we are failing badly when compared with our cousins across the ditch. Kiwis enjoy twice the average download speed of what Australians enjoy.Backflips and somersaults – the NBN black comedy takes a new twist
Luxury cars are inextricably linked with the weapons industry. When James Bond saves the world in his faithful Aston Martin he is glamourising the very industry he is ostensibly trying to defeat. Tasha May reports.A masterful PR campaign: the links between Hollywood, luxury cars and the arms industry – Michael West
An unprecedented leak of thousands of files from the US government’s most confidential financial intelligence database has shone a spotlight on the world’s $2 trillion-a-year dirty money habit. As Nathan Lynch reveals, this story goes much deeper than the glib “bad bankers” narrative being trotted out by the world’s media.Dirty money leaks shine a spotlight on kleptocrats devouring our economy – Michael West
Scott Morrison has perfected the art of media manipulation by briefing a select club of Canberra correspondents at once, rather than leaking to individual media outlets. Callum Foote and Michael West report on the marketing genius of the Prime Minister and the increasingly meek mainstream media.Feeding the Chooks: Scott Morrison’s marketing triumph over mainstream media – Michael West
While the UK’s Met Office is out there educating the public, BoM is remarkably coy about any public discussion of climate change. Questions have also been asked whether its senior leadership is too close to the gas industry. Sandi Keane investigates.
Since the days of the Howard government, effective action on climate change has been held hostage by the big polluters’ stranglehold on policy.
Last week’s leaked report from the National Covid-19 Coordination Commission Manufacturing Taskforce comes as no surprise from a commission stacked with executives from the gas and mining lobbies. Its recommendations are a bonanza for the fossil fuel industry and a chilling harbinger of the nightmare to come if, courtesy of the taxpayer, Big Gas is unleashed across our prime farmland.
Peter Leahy’s wife is a director of a company awarded $38 million in contracts from federal departments, mostly Defence and Foreign Affairs and Trade. The company had earned $2.2 million in revenue from federal government contracts before Leahy resigned as Chief. Michelle Fahy investigates.
Coalition pork-barrelling during the 2013 and 2016 election campaigns involved “zombie” grants that had not a hope in Hades of getting off the ground. Yet those grant applications are still on the books just waiting to be revived. How many grants from the 2019 election await a similar fate? Jommy Tee investigates.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic hit, trust in government had reached its lowest level on record, according to a major study conducted by The Australian National University. Just 25% of Australians said they had confidence in their political leaders and institutions. The study of the 2019 federal election also found Australians’ satisfaction with democracy was at its lowest since the constitutional crisis of the 1970s. A huge 56% believe democracy is not working – that government is run for a “few big interests”. Just 12% believe the government is run for “all the people”.