Michael Pascoe: Professional classes make billion-dollar tax rorts possible
“The key lesson from WA Inc was that the shonks, crooks, spivs and conmen only really thrive with the assistance of the professional classes – the accountants, lawyers, valuers, journalists et al.
“It took at least a culture of acquiescence and, more likely, one of mercenary complicity for the likes of Bond and Connell to prosper.”
They are resurrected in light of Rio Tinto settling its tax avoidance bill with the ATO last month – close enough to $1 billion worth of tax it attempted to dodge on the vast fortune it has made exporting WA iron ore and funnelling the money through its “Singapore marketing hub”.
“Singapore marketing hub” might make it up there with “colourful racing identity” as a useful euphemism.Michael Pascoe: Professional classes make billion-dollar tax rorts possible
What lessons have been learnt in the wake of the funding rorts that have embroiled the Morrison government? Rosie Williams finds that the problem is worse than the most pessimistic assumptions.
The PM’s boast in 2019 became rather hollow after the Esther Foundation started to unravel less than six months after he granted the public funds.
As has been the pattern with the Morrison government’s rorting of federal grants for electoral purposes, it turns out the “#carporkrorts” scandal is even worse than it first appeared.
The car park fund dwarfs sports rorts, revealed by the auditor-general last year. And it’s the latest in a very long list of slush funds, misdirected grants and pork-barrels, many of which are now forgotten. Here’s a quick run-through.
PM’s Park Rorts
A car park planned to be built in Woy Woy on the NSW Central Coast will cost more than $210,000 per space, which is 430 per cent above the benchmark figure, according to an Australian National Audit Office report. The audit found the Urban Congestion Fund was used to bankroll commuter car parks in mostly Liberal-held or marginal seats across the country.
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
“I suspect Orwell would see, as he did back in the 1930s, the rich and outrageous irony of governments using the resources of the people to manipulate them and to keep them acquiescent, passive and apathetic.” Shadow Minister for Public Accountability, Kelvin Thompson’s introductory remarks for the Government Advertising (Prohibiting use of taxpayers’ money on party political advertising) Bill 2005. Unfortunately the Thompson’s bill never got up. John Howard’s majority saw to that. It has now become widespread practice for Coalition ministers to spend public money advertising their political parties. Government ministers are using official ministerial announcements as a platform for Liberal Party and National Party advertising, drawing widespread condemnation for misuse of public money. The dubious practise reached a flashpoint this week after Health Minister Greg Hunt was caught branding an announcement for Pfizer vaccines with the LNP logo early. Hunt was questioned about the political party advertising by ABC presenter Michael Rowland and responded with personal insults, branding Rowland a “leftie”.AdRorts: Comrade Hunt deploys Communist propaganda tactics in government advertising – Michael West
It’s time to tackle charity rorts, writes William De Maria. The richest schools are charities, as are big businesses like Queensland Sugar Limited. Even the likes of AI Group and NSW Business Chamber Ltd, organisations which fight against higher pay and better conditions for workers, enjoy charity and tax exempt status. Why should taxpayers foot the bill?Charity Rorts: how private schools and big business rob from the poor to give to the rich – Michael West