Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Senate must not pass large company tax cuts: Oxfam

Oxfam started out as a chain of charity shops in England.  They have now however transmogrified into a carping Leftist pressure group.  They still seem however to understand secondhand clothes better than economics.  They complain below that many large companies pay no tax in Australia while at the same time opposing tax cuts.  Anyone see a problem there?  Surely the companies who pay no tax will not be affected by tax cuts!

Multinational companies are often in a position to take their profits in a jurisdiction where tax rates are low -- as in Singapore or Ireland -- so it is sensible for companies to do that.  So the companies that pay no tax in Australia will pay tax in (say) Singapore. 

Australian government revenues lose from that but the solution is to get Australian company tax down to the Singapore rate -- 17%.  Despite being so lacking in natural resources that it even imports water, Singapore is a very prosperous place -- so if Singapore can do it so can we.

It won't happen soon.  The Left would mount a Jihad to stop it -- while the Singapore government enjoys tax money that could have gone to the Australian government.

The unfortunate Mr Turnbull is trying to get our company tax down -- our rates are about twice Singapore's -- but the ignoramuses of the Left would rather have our money go to Singapore

Commenting on the push to have large company tax cuts pass through the Senate this week, Oxfam Australia’s economic policy advisor Joy Kyriacou said:

“The proposed $65 billion hand-out for big business would make Australia the latest country to join the global race to the bottom on corporate tax rates.

“Slashing the corporate tax rate would undermine attempts to tackle inequality and poverty, both in Australia and around the world. When governments enter a race to the bottom on corporate tax rates, everyday people lose.

“It is utterly inconceivable that the Federal Government wants to push ahead with slashing the corporate tax rate when Australian Taxation Office data shows that more than one in three large Australian companies paid no tax at all in Australia for the past three years of reporting.

“Passing the corporate tax cut for large companies would be a further step in unravelling the fairness of our tax system.

“Right now, the use of tax havens and other loopholes by Australian multinationals is ripping billions of dollars from public coffers in developing countries, as well as in Australia.

“Oxfam estimates around $5-6 billion is lost to Australia’s public purse through the tax avoidance practices of multinationals – and global estimates are that the poorest countries loose well over $100 billion annually.

“This is money that should be spent on the things everyday people need: schools, hospitals, roads and public infrastructure.

“It would also be completely nonsensical to promise a crackdown on multinationals that are avoiding paying their fair share of tax in exchange for rewarding big business with these tax cuts.

“And the stubborn push for these tax cuts comes with little evidence of benefits to the economy and community – and in exchange for no more than a ‘pinky promise’ that big business will invest more in jobs and wage growth.

“What Australia should be doing is cracking down further on tax avoidance, including by introducing public country-by-country reporting that requires large companies to declare details of income, taxes paid and profits around the world.

“Oxfam calls on Senators to support the Australian people this week, not further profits for large companies. The corporate tax cuts for large businesses should be rejected.”

Via email.

Cattle the next target in climate war

Storm clouds have gathered over the long paddock as beef production becomes the target of a building global campaign that threatens to make cows the next coal in ­climate change action.

Australia’s biggest integrated cattle and beef producer, Australian Agricultural Co (AAC), has been thrown on to the defensive after it was named and shamed as a global laggard.

AAC, the oldest continuously operating company in the nation, claims a “high risk” rating by a group representing investors worth $5.9 trillion was more due to poor communication than bad management.

But a war of competing scientific views has been ramping up over the impact of cattle on ­climate, with Oxford University research rejecting the benefits of grazing and claiming diets with less meat of any kind were needed to save the planet.

Land emissions were due to surface as the next challenge for the federal government, which ­remains bogged down in energy policy and strongly resistant to plans to tighten regulations for new cars and the transport sector.

Some commentators claim Australian cattle, sheep and pig herds will need to be cut by millions of animals to meet agriculture’s share of the 26 to 28 per cent cut to carbon dioxide emissions from 2005 levels by 2030.

The fear is that climate policies would do to meat prices what had been done to electricity.

The Australian Meat and Livestock Corporation has responded to pressure with a public ­“ambition” to make the livestock sector carbon-neutral by 2030.

Rather than cut animal numbers, the industry says better land management, improved stock ­selection and handling can offset the impact of methane and carbon dioxide emissions from cows.

About 13 per cent of Australia’s carbon emissions come from agriculture compared with 35 per cent from electricity generation and 17 per cent from transportation.

The livestock sector represents about 70 per cent of emissions from agriculture, with beef cattle production mostly responsible.

Beef cattle produce high levels of the potent greenhouse gas methane when they graze and when they pass wind.

A spokesman for the federal Environment Department told The Australian the $2.5 billion emissions reduction fund allowed at least six methods the livestock industry could use to generate ­additional income while providing productivity benefits.

A government paper said to ­reduce the emissions intensity of beef, growers could reduce the ­average number of days from birth to slaughter, reduce the ­average age of the herd or reduce the number of animals in the herd.

CSIRO is exploring ways the industry can be carbon neutral while the national herd can ­remain stable at 28 million cattle and 70 million sheep.

MLA managing director Richard Norton said paths to becoming carbon neutral “don’t require the heavy hand of regulation”.

“What they do require is the commitment of industry, the right policy settings from federal and state governments and continued investment in research and development,” he said.

Mr Norton said the red meat industry had already reduced its share of Australia’s total emissions from 20 per cent of Australia’s 600 million tonnes total emissions in 2005 to just 13 per cent in 2015.

AAC said it was committed to working to further reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.

“To do this, we recognise the importance of better understanding agricultural greenhouse gas flows at pasture and production level,’’ the company said. “Better data and industry benchmarking will help us drive further, long-term improvement.’’

Australia currently ranks as the world’s third largest beef ­exporter behind Brazil and India.


Bill Shorten’s frontbench team rich in assets

Bill Shorten’s asset-rich frontbenchers, who have led attacks on the personal wealth of Malcolm Turnbull, will continue to have ­access to the benefits of negative gearing on dozens of investment properties under Labor’s plans to axe the ­lucrative tax break for new investors.

As the opposition ramps up its class-war attack on “millionaires”, The Australian can reveal many of Labor’s frontbenchers are multi-millionaires, courtesy of bulging property portfolios. Parliamentary records show Labor’s 45 frontbenchers own or have an interest in a total of 105 properties, including 57 classified as residences, and up to 48 classified as investments, holiday houses or blocks of land.

The Opposition Leader has pledged to axe negative gearing, while “grandfathering” arrangements for those already in the market, in a move that would benefit senior members of his leadership team.

An analysis of parliament’s register of pecuniary interests reveals some Labor MPs also make use of family trusts, control self-­managed superannuation funds, and declare share portfolios. Labor’s wealthy frontbenchers ­include deputy leader Tanya Plibersek, who lists four properties in the register of pecuniary interests, owned by her or her spouse, including one in the Slovenian capital of ­Ljubljana.

Mr Shorten’s leadership rival, Anthony Albanese, lists four properties in the register with his wife, former NSW Labor deputy premier Carmel Tebbutt, including residences in inner-Sydney Marrickville and Canberra, and two investment properties in Sydney. Legal affairs spokesman Mark Dreyfus has a primary residence in the leafy Melbourne suburb of Malvern — a long way from his seat of Isaacs — and declares investment properties in South Yarra, Camberwell and Airey’s Inlet, owned by him or his wife.

Labor agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon has an interest in five properties, including a residence and commercial property in Cessnock, NSW, a block of land, and two properties in Canberra.

Labor’s biggest property ­moguls include communications spokeswoman Michelle Rowland, who owns six properties with her husband, including several owned through a family trust; and mental health spokeswoman Deb O’Neill, who lists six properties owned jointly with her husband.

Labor Medicare spokesman Tony Zappia also lists an interest in six properties.

Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar last night branded the Labor frontbench “typical ­socialists who enjoy the fruits of capitalism”.

“Unlike the Labor Party, we don’t begrudge anybody for ­aspiring to get ahead,” Mr Sukkar said. “But it looks like these Labor property investors are happy to enjoy the benefits for themselves but want to lock the gate behind them, with their massive housing taxes.”

Labor has pledged to axe negative gearing of property for new entrants in the market, except for those investing in new housing stock. It would also wind back the 50 per cent capital gains discount on the sale assets held for longer than 12 months from 50 to 25 per cent, in a package of changes that would raise an estimated $32 billion from taxpayers over 10 years.

Opposition Treasury spokesman Chris Bowen said Labor had been careful not to penalise everyday Australians who were already benefiting from negative gearing, or those who wanted to invest in new housing stock. “Labor’s policy is well-targeted and designed to get negative gearing working for the economy and housing supply by maintaining it for new properties only,” Mr Bowen said. ­“Importantly, any Australian who is currently negative gearing an apartment or house will be able to continue to do so.”

The Prime Minister told parliament yesterday that Labor’s property tax changes would have a devastating affect on the property market. “It will smash into the value of the largest single asset class,” he said. “The Labor Party is a massive threat to the savings, to the futures and to the prosperity of all Australians.”

Opposition finance spokesman Jim Chalmers yesterday said Mr Turnbull was a former banker who “always sides with the millionaires and the multinationals over Middle Australia”. Mr Turnbull ­donates more than the equivalent of his $500,000 salary to charity through the Turnbull Foundation each year, The Sunday Telegraph revealed in 2015.


How unis can beat the cheats by finding 'fingerprints' in their essays

The telltale signs of a cheat could be lurking in a comma or a seemingly innocuous double space after a full stop.

As universities grapple with a rise in contract cheating – which involves students outsourcing their assessments – technology is clamping down on the unethical practice by monitoring students' unique writing styles.

The software, which has been created by US-based company Turnitin and will be launched later this year, is being developed and tested at Australian institutions including Deakin University, the University of New South Wales, the University of Wollongong and the University of Queensland.

Forensic linguists – the experts who scrutinise ransom notes and suspicious wills – helped identify 70 different factors that feed into a person’s unique writing style.

These include the use of commas, parentheses and dashes, how they list examples and whether they double space after a full stop.

Turnitin vice-president of product management Bill Loller is reluctant to go into more detail, because he’s concerned it could lead to contract cheating websites modifying their essays to escape scrutiny.

“There are unique fingerprints around writing,” Mr Loller said.  “It's very unique in that it doesn't vary across your writing, whatever you do, you always do.”

The cheating detection software also calculates a student’s readability score and compares this with previous essays they have submitted.

Machine-learning algorithms determine whether students are writing at an undergraduate or postgraduate level. Their writing style, content, vocabulary variety and sentence complexity is assessed, and if there is a significant difference between two essays submitted by the same student, alarm bells start ringing.

“These give away whether the document has been written by the same person,” Mr Loller explained.

The software also helps university staff scrutinise the metadata of essays to pick up anomalies.

Mr Loller said his company decided to tackle contract cheating after receiving a visit from Australian university representatives in the wake of the MyMaster scandal uncovered by Fairfax Media in 2014.

That investigation revealed that thousands of students had paid up to $1000 for a Sydney company to write their university essays and assignments and sit online tests.

Mr Loller said contract cheating was a lot more nuanced and difficult to prove than plagiarism, which his company had previously focused on.

“Teachers and tutors have this gut instinct that something isn’t right when they see a paper but they don’t know what to do. They might talk to a student and a student might wave their hands and say, 'I did it, or I was a little off and had a drink the night before.' But it is really hard to prove and it is time consuming.”

In some cases, it has taken university staff up to 40 hours to prove one case of contract cheating.

While the new technology doesn’t conclusively say whether a student has engaged in contract cheating, it provides university staff with a detailed report on the likelihood of cheating and may recommend further investigation.

University of South Australia plagiarism expert Tracey Bretag tested the technology with essays her university had already deemed to be examples of contract cheating. The technology was useful in identifying them.

Dr Bretag's research found that 6 per cent of Australian students had engaged in cheating. This included obtaining an assignment to submit as their own, giving or receiving exam assistance and engaging in exam impersonation.

She said the new tool was “potentially very useful” but some students would always find a way around it. She said cheating students were inserting white Hebrew characters, invisible to the naked eye, into essays in an attempt to dupe plagiarism software.

“People who want to cheat are always going to find a way to cheat. We can't stamp it out 100 per cent,” she sad. “If we keep putting in place a lot of things to show we do care about this, we will reduce their ability, they will think 'this is getting hard'.”


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

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