Monday, June 13, 2016
Multinational tax dodging costs the government billions
It is undoubtedly true that profit-shifting reduces government tax revenues but one has to ask if that is good or bad. Leftists don't even think about that. To them, nothing is too much for government. Once the money is in government hands they have an opportunity to influence its spending.
But for anyone who asks the unmentionable, the answer is not so clear. Is it best for funds to be wasted by an incompetent government or is it best for resources to be carefully saved for future investment? And that is not just rhetoric. The Rudd/Gillard government showed how colossal government waste can be. They added half a trillion to Australia's national debt and what did we get for it? More bureaucrats mostly.
So any money that can be kept out of government hands should be. It will be much more usefully employed by those who earned it
I might also mention that the poll commissioned by Oxfam should not be taken seriously. Oxfam are anything but impartial and will be sure to have designed the poll to get the answers they want
Nearly $AU9 billion that could be spent on schools, hospitals and critical infrastructure in Australia and in poor countries is instead being hidden by Australian-based multinationals in tax havens, according to an Oxfam report released today.
According to The Hidden Billions – How tax havens impact lives at home and abroad, and based on the latest available data, tax haven use by Australian-based multinationals cost Australia around USD $5 billion (AUD $6 billion) in lost tax revenue annually, and cost developing countries an estimated USD $2.3 billion (AUD $2.8 billion) every year.
The report is being launched with an online poll that shows 90 per cent of Australians polled think the Government should do more to stop multinational corporations avoiding paying tax in Australia and in every country in which they operate.
Oxfam Australia Chief Executive Dr Helen Szoke said the report showed how much the public lose out when big companies do the wrong thing and governments don’t step in and stop them.
"The Oxfam report, for the first time, puts dollar figures on what Australians and poor people in our region are missing out on because Australian-based multinational companies aren’t paying their fair share of tax like the rest of us," Dr Szoke said.
The Oxfam-commissioned poll also found:
* 60 per cent of Australians polled believe the main thing the Federal Government should do to raise revenue is crackdown on tax avoidance by multinationals;
* 90 per cent of Australians polled believe the Federal Government should legislate to prevent all multinationals operating in this country from moving their profits to tax havens to avoid paying tax here;
* 87 per cent think that those Australian companies who operate in developing countries and in Australia should publicly report their earnings and how much tax they pay everywhere.
Globally, tax-dodging is rampant in developing countries, with big companies ripping USD $172 billion (AUD $209 billion) of tax revenue out of their economies in 2014, money that could have been used to fight poverty and generate equality and prosperity.
Dr Szoke also said The Hidden Billions report found that use of tax havens overseas by big businesses based in Australia would cost developing countries USD $4.1 billion (AUD $5.6 billion) in desperately needed revenue for essential public services over the next five years, including many of Australia’s poorest neighbours.
"Over the next five years, it’s estimated that Indonesia will be deprived of around USD $360 million (AUD $493 million) that could have gone towards education, and PNG stands to lose around USD $17 million (AUD $23 million) in expenditure on essential services such as hospitals, schools and sanitation," Dr Szoke said.
"This is shocking, given in PNG, 60 per cent of the population don’t have access to clean water.
"In Ghana, funding lost due to the use of tax havens by Australian-based multinationals could pay for an estimated additional 1,400 primary school teachers, and nearly 600 nurses, a year. In The Philippines, an estimated 1,700 new classrooms per year could be built.
"It doesn’t have to be this way. Australia should show that it’s tackling this issue by making the tax affairs of Australian-based multinationals public – not only for their operations in Australia, but for every country in which they operate.
"Our research relies on IMF data, which shows the flow of money from Australian-based multinationals. Unfortunately, there is no way to find out which individual companies are dodging tax, as they’re not required to publish their tax affairs on a country-by-country basis."
Dr Szoke said this lack of public reporting enabled big companies to hide billions of dollars they should be paying in tax.
"Other countries, including the US, France and Canada, have made tax reporting public for high-risk sectors in big business, such as for mining companies and big banks; it’s time Australia caught up," she said.
Dr Szoke said the report showed that Australia was a major part of this global problem that affected so many lives here and overseas.
"With inequality worsening around the world, making the fight against poverty even harder, companies must pay their fair share of taxes, so that the revenue can be used to improve people’s lives, both here and for the world’s poorest people," Dr Szoke said.
Universities warned on ‘flimsy evidence’ of Aboriginality
Vindication for Andrew Bolt? He got sued under "human rights" laws for saying roughly the same thing
Indigenous-specific enrolments and scholarships at Australian universities are being awarded to students with "flimsy evidence" of their heritage, according to one of the nation’s leading Aboriginal academics.
Bob Morgan, head of the University of Newcastle’s indigenous Wollotuka Institute, has joined a push for tougher checks across the community of claims to Aboriginality and benefits, which in some cases are given on the back of a single statutory declaration.
A forum of native title holders, indigenous leaders and regulators in Sydney has been told of suspected rorting at universities, in the public service and in gaining access to government grants.
A national register of indigenous people was proposed by academic and activist Stephen Hagan and backed by the chairman of the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council, Warren Mundine. Dr Hagan said the register was needed to stop "the problem of fake Aboriginals", which could include people on Federal Court-vetted records of native title claimants.
"A first nations register is needed to eliminate the concerns around the authentication of Aboriginality of an individual," he said. "People who cannot provide genealogical proof of an apical (kinship) ancestor that links them to a tribe can have their name entered into the register for a period of 12 months until they can prove their links to a tribe."
The forum heard there had been a "gradual watering-down" of the federal test of Aboriginality, requiring proven indigenous descent, self-identification and acceptance by an Aboriginal community. Professor Morgan said the problem had now emerged in the university sector, where student applications for indigenous places, scholarships and other support were being accepted with little evidence. In some instances, he said, a statutory declaration of self-identification had been accepted.
"I share a concern within the academic community about the lack of appropriate processes to determine the bona fides of claimants to Aboriginality," Professor Morgan said. "It has become more problematic as both state and federal governments have put in place programs to best serve the interests and aspirations of Aboriginal people.
"There is no doubt people are taking advantage of poor process to get a benefit they are not entitled to, with evidence that could be described as flimsy at best."
Indigenous Australians are under-represented in the university system. About 1.4 per cent of enrolments in 2010 were from Aboriginal people, who make up 2.2 per cent of the student population. Professor Morgan, chairman of the World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Education, said he was in talks with the University of Newcastle to develop tighter guidelines that could serve as a model for the sector. "There needs to be a lot of discussions, we are aware of enrolments being accepted on the basis of a DNA test report that says a person has some Aboriginal ancestry," he said. "But I have a distant relative who was Welsh; does that make me Welsh?
"There has to be links into the community, but there is also a question about what to do about those of the Stolen Generation who may have grown up without Aboriginal connections."
He said there was no suggestion any of the 1000 University of Newcastle indigenous students were not entitled to claim Aboriginality.
In February, NSW Land Rights Act registrar Stephen Wright disqualified a claim of Aboriginality by a public servant who had held the Aboriginal-identified position of regional general manager of the Aboriginal Housing Office. Laurinne Campbell had relied on land council vetting to secure the position in Dubbo, NSW, and later set up an indigenous corporation with her family.
Coral corruption: An honest environmentalist in trouble
Honest scientists are an endangered species. Must toe the line. Below are three recent articles referring to Prof. Peter Ridd. You can see why he's got the Warmists steaming
When marine scientist Peter Ridd suspected something was wrong with photographs being used to highlight the rapid decline of the Great Barrier Reef, he did what good scientists are supposed to do: he sent a team to check the facts.
After attempting to blow the whistle on what he found — healthy corals — Professor Ridd was censured by James Cook University and threatened with the sack. After a formal investigation, Professor Ridd — a renowned campaigner for quality assurance over coral research from JCU’s Marine Geophysics Laboratory — was found guilty of "failing to act in a collegial way and in the academic spirit of the institution".
His crime was to encourage questioning of two of the nation’s leading reef institutions, the Centre of Excellence for Coral Studies and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, on whether they knew that photographs they had published and claimed to show long-term collapse of reef health could be misleading and wrong.
"These photographs are a big deal as they are plastered right across the internet and used very widely to claim damage," Professor Ridd told The Weekend Australian.
The photographs were taken near Stone Island off Bowen. A photograph taken in the late 19th century shows healthy coral. An accompanying picture supposedly of the same reef in 1994 is devoid of coral. When the before-and-after shots were used by GBRMPA in its 2014 report, the authority said: "Historical photographs of inshore coral reefs have been especially powerful in illustrating changes over time, and that the change illustrated is typical of many inshore reefs."
Professor Ridd said it was only possible to guess within a kilometre or two where the original photograph was taken and it would not be unusual to find great coral in one spot and nothing a kilometre away, as his researchers had done. Nor was it possible to say what had killed the coral in the 1994 picture.
"In fact, there are literally hundreds of square kilometres of dead reef-flat on the Great Barrier Reef which was killed due to the slow sea-level fall of about a meter that has occurred over the last 5000 years," he said. "My point is not that they have probably got this completely wrong but rather what are the quality assurance measures they take to try to ensure they are not telling a misleading story?"
A GBRMPA spokesman said last night "the historical photos serve to demonstrate the vulnerability of nearshore coral reefs, rather than a specific cause for their decline.
"Ongoing monitoring shows coral growth in some locations, however this doesn’t detract from the bigger picture, which shows shallow inshore areas of the Great Barrier Reef south of Port Douglas have clearly degraded over a period of decades." Centre of Excellence for Coral Studies chairman Terry Hughes did not respond to questions from The Weekend Australian.
Professor Ridd was disciplined for breaching principle 1 of JCU’s code of conduct by "not displaying responsibility in respecting the reputations of other colleagues". He has been told that if he does it again he may be found guilty of serious misconduct.
A JCU spokesman said it was university policy not to comment on individual staff, but that the university’s marine science was subject to "the same quality assurance processes that govern the conduct of, and delivery of, science internationally".
This is the crux of the issue for Professor Ridd: "I feel as though I am the whistleblower."
His potential downfall is the result of a long campaign for better quality assurance standards for ocean and reef research, which has come under fire globally for exaggerating bad news and ignoring the good. Reef politics is a hot topic in the wake of widescale bleaching of corals on the Great Barrier Reef as part of what US agencies have called the world’s third mass-bleaching event.
About a quarter of the Great Barrier Reef has died and could take years to rebuild. The damage is concentrated in the northern section off Cape York. The scientific response to the bleaching has exposed a rift between GBRMPA and the JCU’s Coral Bleaching Taskforce led by Professor Hughes over how bleaching data should be treated and presented to the public. Conservation groups have run hard on the issue, with graphic images of dying corals. All sides of politics have responded with increased funding to reduce sediment flow and to combat crown of thorns starfish.
University of Western Australia marine biologist Carlos Duarte argued in BioScience last year that bias contributed to "perpetuating the perception of ocean calamities in the absence of robust evidence".
A paper published this year claimed scientific journals had exaggerated bad news on ocean acidification and played down the doubts. Former GBRMPA chairman Ian McPhail accused activists of "exaggerating the impact of coral bleaching for political and financial gain". Dr McPhail told The Weekend Australian it "seems that there is a group of researchers who begin with the premise that all is disaster".
Concerns about quality assurance in science are not confined to the reef. Drug-makers generated headlines when they were unable to replicate the results of landmark studies in the basic science of cancer. Professor Ridd poses the question: "Is the situation in marine science likely to be worse than in medicine and pharmaceuticals, psychology, education? Do we have a decent system of replication and checking of results?
"Is there a chance that many marine scientists are partially driven by ideology? Is there a chance that peer review among this group is self-selecting of the dominant idea? Is there a robust debate without intimidation?"
Professor Ridd wants an independent agency to check the science before governments commit to spending hundreds of millions of dollars.
There is no doubt the current bleaching is a serious event but there are also many questions still to be answered. The consensus position of reef experts is that bleaching events will get worse as ocean temperatures continue to rise because of climate change.
Great Barrier Reef death in five years is "laughable"
CLAIMS by a James Cook University professor that the Great Barrier Reef will be "terminal" in five years have been rubbished by one of his own colleagues.
In a scientific paper released this week, JCU’s Dr Jon Brodie and Professor Richard Pearson warned the natural wonder would be in a terminal condition within five years without a $10 billion commitment during the federal election campaign to improve water quality.
They said many parts of the Reef were in bad shape from pollution, climate change, and overfishing, and they were continuing to decline.
The researchers predicted a wave of crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks in 2025 triggered by poor water quality.
But JCU marine geophysicist Professor Peter Ridd said his colleagues’ claims were "laughable". "I think the threats to the Barrier Reef are greatly exaggerated and mostly based upon science that is very poorly quality assured," he said.
Latest findings by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority show 93 per cent of the natural wonder has varying levels of coral bleaching which was worse in remote parts off Cape York.
Prof Ridd said bleaching was an entirely natural event. "It has always occurred over the millennia, and this is nothing special," he said. "It’s no different to say that on the land, when in extremely dry conditions for example, eucalypt trees lose their leaves.
"There are all sorts of response mechanisms to extreme conditions. "High temperature is one of those, and bleaching is the response corals have."
Mr Brodie said if climate change continued at its current pace the combination of its effects and a starfish outbreak or similar event could lead to permanent loss of the coral.
He said the current federal election campaign was probably the last chance for politicians to put forward their plans of action on water quality and climate change if the GBR was to avoid permanent damage.
"It takes time for change to happen and we need to start fast. If something is not done in this election cycle then we may not see good coral again in our children’s lifetime," he said.
Prof Ridd agreed that coral bleaching needed to be studied, but questioned spending too many resources to do it. "Australia faces far worse environmental problems than threats to the Reef," he said.
"Invasive species and noxious weeds on our rangelands are a much greater threat than the small amount of loss that we may or may not have had on the Barrier Reef."
Great Barrier Reef science needs 'quality assurance' to guarantee accuracy and better policy decisions: academic
A James Cook University academic claims a lack of 'quality assurance' of science about the Great Barrier Reef is failing policy makers
Audiences in far north Queensland have been told scientific claims made about the health of the Great Barrier Reef are not subjected to the same level of "antagonistic rigour" as those made in the private sector.
Physical oceanographer Peter Ridd, from James Cook University, says quality assurance is a well-understood concept in just about every industry, but not in the scientific world, where arguably claims and predictions are frequently used to influence decision and policymakers.
Professor Ridd reviewed the data and found "major problems and statistical errors" in several scientific papers in which claims were made, for example, about calcification rates and a reduction in coral cover on the Great Barrier Reef.
The widely-accepted system of scientific peer review was failing to deliver the antagonistic scrutiny or rigour required, he claimed.
"They may be your mates, they could hate you and really give you a hard time, but the crucial thing is peer review is only a read of the actual paper," he said.
"It won't delve into the data and some of the data sets are enormous and it can take you months and months of work to really check if there's not another interpretation and that's the problem.
"The peer review is a great start in terms of quality assurance and we need it for all science, but for the really important science where you're going to make big policy decisions...
"When you're going to spend a billion dollars to save the reef or you're going to close down the fishing or the coal industry, you need to have a better system of quality assurance than this peer review process and that is what we don't do.
"It does happen in the private industry, but it doesn't happen for the public good science that we're talking about."
Professor Ridd said in the absence of a guaranteed method of "proper antagonistic review", enormous resources and attention was being directed at some environmental threats at the expense of others.
"A lot of the science is proposing hypothesises that there is perhaps a threat, but the data, in many cases, doesn't actually support that there's a huge risk, that there's a risk there but maybe not as large as we thought.
"For example, we have diabolical problems with feral animals and noxious weeds, but almost no money is spent on those problems while we spend a lot of money on the reef.
"I am not totally sure the Great Barrier Reef isn't majorly threatened or majorly damaged, but what I'm totally sure about is the scientific system is not working, that we're not guaranteeing debate."
Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.). For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup of pro-environment but anti-Greenie news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH . Email me here