Sunday, December 20, 2015

More Queensland police arrogance

Taken at the Morayfield shopping centre in S.E. Queensland on December 14 at 6:37pm


The picture of the car seems a bit wobbly.  I wonder what that is about?

Crocodile baloney

The Warmists never stop.  Always a new scare.  This time it's crocs that are going to eat you as a result of global warming.  Why?  Because global warming will drive them towards the cooller waters of Southern Australia.  Just one problem:  Crocs are reptiles and they LIKE warmth. The warmer they are, the more active they are.  So where are they generally found?  In TROPICAL Australia -- around Cape York Peninsula and the Top End.  It's the HOTTEST part of Australia that they like.  They vote with their feet to show the best habitat for themselves. No wonder those who know crocodiles well in the wild dismiss the laboratory study reported below

And I have done my usual trick of looking up the underlying academic journal article (Diving in a warming world: the thermal sensitivity and plasticity of diving performance in juvenile estuarine crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus)).  When I do that, I often find that the authors have concluded what they wanted to conclude regardless of what their results show.  And so it seems here too.  I note the following sentence in the Abstract: "Maximal dive performances, however, were found to be thermally insensitive across the temperature range of 28–35°C".  Come again?  28–35°C is the temperature range they studied and the central claim of the article is that crocs can't stay underwater for long if the water is hot.  Yet that sentence asserts the exact opposite.  I give up!

The little lady whose Ph.D. research the article was based on -- Essie Rodgers -- would appear to have been very poorly supervised


Saltwater crocodiles may be forced to migrate from the north of Australia to the southern states because of global warming.

A University of Queensland study has found the man eaters may be ill-equipped to adjust to rising water temperatures, prompting them to migrate to cooler environments.

The researchers found the higher water temperatures hindered their diving ability, putting the young crocs at risk from predators.

Professor Craig Franklin of the university's School of Biological Sciences said they have found crocodiles are not hardwired to adapt to water temperatures – unlike other cold blooded animals.

'It's likely that if the water is too hot, crocodiles might move to cooler regions, or will seek refuge in deep, cool water pockets to defend their dive times,' he said.

Lead author for the study, PhD student Essie Rodgers, said the study showed increases in water temperatures severely shortened crocodiles diving times.

'Crocodiles are ectothermic animals – where environmental temperatures strongly influence their body temperatures,' she said.

The lethal temperature for crocodiles is in the high 30s to low 40s, making water a critical refuge for the reptiles to avoid dehydration.

Experts have cast doubt on the study, with Crocodylus Park expert Grahame Webb telling NT News the prehistoric animals are highly resilient.

'They've been through plenty of dramatic changes in temperature and they've gone through that okay,' he said.

'I think its important to be careful with these doomsday predictions.'


How do a third of the top Australian companies pay no tax?

The comments below are a corrective to a minor public uproar  going on at the moment.  The writer is probably a bit optimistic about profit shifting however.  A lot of that does go on internationally.  American companies are particularly prone to it because of the high American company tax rates.  And our company tax rates are similar to the U.S. ones.

But all the huffing and puffing is needless anyway.  A 2% turnover tax (on gross receipts)  would be simple to levy and would ensure that all businesses paid their way.  Any business that was sent bust by such a tax would be very shaky anyway

Almost 600 of the largest companies operating in Australia did not pay income tax in the 2013 to 2014 financial year, ATO figures show.

These are wealthy companies with high annual incomes and it has led to speculation that Australia is missing out on billions of dollars of tax.

How much? According to a 2014 report, about $8.4 billion dollars a year. The corporate tax rate is set at 30 per cent, but almost a third of companies are paying an effective tax rate of about 10 per cent, according to the report.

And this is while there is talk of increasing the GST to 15 per cent to make up for a shortfall in taxation revenue. The GST hike would raise about $27 billion per year.

You may ask, how does a company avoid paying tax?

Here we get to an important distinction; between tax deductions (legal) and tax evasion (illegal). Not paying tax does not necessarily mean tax evasion.

Give us an example

One of the more controversial examples is a company like Apple.

The technology giant has a total income of about $6.1 billion, but only $247 million (about four per cent) of that was taxable income.

It paid $74 million tax - 30 per cent of its taxable income, or one per cent of its total income.

So what is taxable income? It's a company's total income minus expenses. If a company doesn't turn a profit in a financial year, it doesn't pay any tax.

This happens quite often.

In the last decade, each year between one fifth and one third of the top 500 companies have not made a profit. The number of companies not paying tax in 2013-14 was nothing unusual.

For example, Qantas and Ten Network are two of the companies that paid no tax. They also recorded losses of $2.84bn (Qantas) and $80mn (Ten).

If a company does make a profit, it can also make deductions to reduce its taxable income. These deductions are perfectly legal. They include:

    Prior year losses (a company can deduct losses from a previous financial year from its taxable income in the current financial year)

    Research and development (money spent on R&D earns tax credits)

    Franking credits (a company can offset its tax liability against the dividends it pays to shareholders)

This is why it can be misleading to look at taxation as a percentage of total income, rather than taxable income. The more interesting figure is the difference between total income and taxable income.

The figures released by the ATO do not explain why there is a difference - in many cases it's a result of tax deduction, not tax evasion.

The ATO figures simply show there is a difference, and this is nothing new.

To work out if there is anything illegal about the difference, you need to closely audit a company's accounts; a project for another day.

So nothing to see here?

Not really.

Tax deductions may be legal but they may not be good policy. The release of the ATO figures may generate debate about whether there are too many corporate tax deductions.

Aside from this, there are also murkier ways a company can reduce its taxable income. The dark arts of corporation tax evasion include:

    Debt dumping - a company brings debt from one of its overseas subsidiaries into Australia to reduce its taxable income.

    Profit shifting - a company sends profits offshore to avoid tax.

To get back to the example of Apple, in April, senators at an inquiry into corporate tax avoidance accused the company of shifting profits overseas, namely to Ireland.

Apple boss Tony King denied this was the case.

The inquiry came after the Australian Financial Review reported Apple had shifted an estimated $8.9 billion in untaxed profits over the last decade from its Australian operations to a tax haven structure in Ireland.

The ATO figures are no 'smoking gun' of corporate tax avoidance, but they may put the onus back on some companies to explain how they are paying little or no tax.


Australian and Japanese universities now to recognize one-another's degrees

STUDENTS with degrees from Australian universities will have their qualifications recognised by Japan next year.

Universities in Japan and Australia have also agreed to deepen ties in the area of energy, health and medical research.

The two steps were taken Friday on Malcolm Turnbull’s first trip to Japan as Prime Minister, where he is promoting his “ideas boom” message.

Mr Turnbull met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe following a morning in which he took a selfie with the world’s most advanced humanoid robot ASIMO during a visit to the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation in Tokyo.

Recognition of Australian degrees would not only encourage freer movement between the two countries “but also that of ideas”, he said.

A roundtable with leading researchers in innovation and Australian university vice-chancellors was followed by the signing of a new deal with Japan on regenerative medicine.

Regenerative medicine includes treatments around stem cells and gene therapy intended to restore the function of damaged organs and tissues.

The market in Japan for regenerative medicines is projected to grow to more than $17 billion by 2030, according to the Japanese government.

The deal involves a memorandum of understanding with Japan’s peak industry body, the Forum for Innovative Regenerative Medicine. Austrade and FIRM will identify ways to help Australian and Japanese researchers and companies collaborate to advance commercial outcomes and therapies.

The Prime Minister also used his bilateral meeting with Mr Abe to raise Australia’s concerns about Japan’s whaling plans, as well as discuss trade and investment.

“Australia is very disappointed that Japan has resumed whaling in the Southern Ocean this year,” Mr Turnbull told reporters in Tokyo.

“We will, as good friends should, be upfront and frank about our differences of opinion, put them on the table and deal with them and seek to resolve them,” he said.


Australia plays key part in Ramadi fight

Australian combat aircraft, special forces and training troops have contributed to operations which have killed about 1000 Islamic State insurgents in bitter fighting around the Iraqi city of Ramadi.

Chief of defence force joint operations Vice Admiral David Johnston says IS is under growing pressure on multiple fronts and its ability to move forces and resupply was increasingly constrained.

Much of the fighting now centres on Ramadi, 100 kilometres west of Baghdad, which was seized by IS in May.

Some 500 of their fighters are believed to remain.

"An accurate number of how many have died in the fight is almost impossible to obtain," Vice Admiral Johnston told reporters in Canberra on Friday.

"We'd think more than 1000 Daesh (IS) fighters would have died."

Australia's 80 special forces facilitated air strikes for the Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Service brigade, the lead unit of Iraqi military forces seeking to expel IS forces from Ramadi.

That led to more than 917 air strikes.

The majority of those missions occurred in the vicinity of Ramadi, killing many IS fighters, the destruction of more than 420 defensive fighting positions and 85 IS vehicles destroyed, many of them vehicle-born improvised explosive devices.

The 300 Australians and 100 New Zealanders had now jointly trained more than 3000 Iraqi troops, many engaged in fighting around Ramadi.

"Iraqi commandeers have observed a commensurate improvement in the confidence of their forces who have received this training," Vice Admiral Johnston said.

There had been improvements in targeting, which combined with the Iraqi military shift to offensive operations had boosted the tempo of air strikes, including by Australian aircraft.

Since starting operations in October 2014, RAAF aircraft have flown more than 1000 missions, releasing more than 600 bombs.

That includes 12 missions over Syria during which nine bombs were dropped.

Colonel Matt Galton, who commanded the first training team rotation, said Iraqi troops had it in them to win the fight and that training had had a visible impact.

"It's a matter of time until they do retake Ramadi and hopefully, in the not too distant future, they will start to move further north," he said.


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