Showing posts with label debt. Show all posts
Showing posts with label debt. Show all posts

Monday, 11 December 2017

Adani Group still cannot find financial backers for Galilee Basin mega coal mine


Indian multinational, the family-owned Adani Group, appears to have financed its Queensland mining venture with debt.

The book value of Adani Enterprises' Carmichael mine project was just under US$2.3bn by mid-2017. While latest report shows its debt has risen by almost US$400m to US$3.83bn.

This debt is further complicated by fraud allegations and investigations by the Indian Government.

The Guardian, 7 December 2017:

Adani’s operations in Australia appear to be hanging on by a thread, as activists prove effective at undermining the company’s chances of getting the finance it needs.

China seems to have ruled out funding for the mine, which means it’s not just Adani’s proposed Carmichael coalmine that is under threat, but also its existing Abbot Point coal terminal, which sits near Bowen, behind the Great Barrier Reef.

The campaign against the mine has been long. Environmentalists first tried to use Australia’s environmental laws to block it from going ahead, and then failing that, focused on pressuring financial institutions, first here, and then around the world.

The news that Beijing has left Adani out to dry comes as on-the-ground protests against construction of the mine pick up. Two Greens MPs, Jeremy Buckingham and Dawn Walker, have been arrested in Queensland for disrupting the company’s activities.

Is China’s move the end of the road for Adani’s mega coalmine in Australia, and will the Adani Group be left with billions of dollars in stranded assets?.........

While threats to reputational damage were not effective against Adani Group, since it is family-owned, the same was not true of Australian banks, which were targeted heavily by activists.
And one by one, each of the big four Australian banks ruled out financing the mine.

The first of the big four banks declared it would not lend to the project two years ago. NAB distanced itself from the mine in September 2015 and ANZ followed suit in December.
Then in April this year Westpac became the third of the big banks to rule out funding the project, drawing criticism from resources minister, Matthew Canavan, who said the bank had a conflict of interest because of its interest in other coal-producing regions, and called for a boycott of the bank.

Undeterred, and in the face of a large campaign by environmental groups, the Commonwealth bank followed suit in August this year.

By then Adani had seen the writing on the wall, and had shifted to seek finance from overseas institutions. It entered negotiations with the state-owned China Machinery Engineering Corporation (CMEC), which was thought to raise the potential of subsidised Chinese government loans.

The Australian government, which was seeking to give Adani its own subsidised loan, had supported the company’s efforts in China, according to a freedom of information request by the Australia Institute that reveals “several hundred pages” relating to formal representations to foreign financiers by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade…….

Monday, 29 May 2017

IN MATES WE TRUST: that all too familiar stench begins to drift across Parliament Drive once more


Prime Minister John Howard with Bob Day then a Liberal donor and party figure
The Sydney Morning Herald, 11 September 2008

On 17 May 2017The Guardian reported on the matter of the eligibility of Family First’s Bob Day1 to sit in the Australian Senate:
A majority of the court found that Day was ineligible from 26 February 2016. He was paid close to $130,000 between then and his November resignation.

Ryan said Day had been warned he was required to repay the salary and superannuation he earned as a senator, and similar letters had been sent to former One Nation senator Rod Culleton.

Barely eight days pass and then……
ABC News, 25 May 2017:

The Federal Government has agreed to waive debts owed by former senator Bob Day, after receiving advice that he may not be able to repay the money.

Special Minister of State senator Scott Ryan told a Senate estimates committee he decided to waive the debts in line with decisions made in similar cases in the past.

In April, the High Court ruled Mr Day was not validly elected to the Senate last year, due to a complex arrangement involving a building previously owned by Mr Day being leased by the Commonwealth.

It was recently revealed the Senate and Department of Finance were pursuing Mr Day and fellow disqualified senator Rod Culleton, seeking the repayment of their salaries and other allowances.

Both men received letters informing them of the situation, potentially owing hundreds of thousands of dollars between them.

Senator Ryan told the estimates hearing Mr Day took up an option to formally request the debt be waived.

The Minister said he was advised pursuing the debts may not be fair.

"It may be seen to be inequitable for the Commonwealth to recover the debt, given Mr Day performed his duties as a senator in good faith," he said.

"The [advisory] committee also noted Mr Day's personal financial circumstances."

Remembering of course that the Liberal Party and its financial backers have a history of propping up Mr. Day…….

The Sydney Morning Herald, 4 February 2017:

A wealthy fundraising body linked to the Liberal Party has quietly begun bankrolling the organisations behind two of the Coalition's biggest crossbench supporters in the finely balanced Senate.

The Cormack Foundation has donated more than $40 million to the Liberal Party over the last 18 years – including more than $3 million in 2015-16 – making it one of the party's biggest benefactors.

The foundation is an investment company and "associated entity" of the Liberals that donates dividends from its share portfolio. It has stakes in a number of blue-chip companies – including the big four banks, Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton, Telstra and Wesfarmers – raising about $3.9 million last year.

But for the first time in its 30-year history, the foundation last year donated to parties other than the Liberals – giving $25,000 each to the conservative Family First and the libertarian Liberal Democrats, according to the Australian Election Commission annual returns released this week.

The foundation has eight listed shareholders, who are also the company's directors. They include Rupert Murdoch's brother-in-law John Calvert-Jones, former Reserve Bank board member and Business Council of Australia president Hugh Morgan and former ANZ chairman Charles Goode.

The donations came in a year that the Abbott and then Turnbull governments were highly reliant in the Senate on the votes of Family First's Bob Day and the Liberal Democrats' David Leyonhjelm….

It's believed to be the first occasion an "associated entity" has linked itself to more than one political party at a time.

ABC News, 2 November 2017:

The Abbott government ignored the advice of its own bureaucrats when it approved the lease agreement with former Family First senator Bob Day regarding his Adelaide electorate office in 2014.

Documents obtained under Freedom of Information reveal the Finance Department advised the Government not to allow Mr Day to relocate his electorate office from the Adelaide CBD to a building he owned in Kent Town, warning it had "concerns about how such a transaction might be perceived"……

Despite this advice, the then special minister of state, Michael Ronaldson, wrote to Mr Day in March 2014 telling him he was willing to consider the arrangement as long as the Kent Town property met Commonwealth standards and that no rent would be charged to the Commonwealth until the lease ended on the CBD office space.

Mr Day sold the building to Fullerton Investments and last December, the company entered into a lease agreement with the Commonwealth under which no rent would be paid……

Mr Day's company loaned Fullarton Investments money to make the purchase — and are ultimately liable for a National Australia Bank mortgage on the building.

Between 2004 and 2006 Bob Day’s company Homestead Homes donated $9,937 to the Liberal Party in South Australia. It is understood that the donation tally may be higher as Day owned more than one company and at least one trust which may have contributed to party coffers.

NOTES



Thursday, 4 May 2017

How soon will Adani go broke in the Galilee Basin?


Reading the information set out below leads me to wonder how the Federal Government and Queensland Government will cope, both politically and economically, if the Adani Group's Carmichael Mine and Rail Project leads to a massive derelict mine site with its twenty-six Australian subsidiaries under administration or in receivership.


2013


The Adani Group is highly geared:
 Against an external market capitalisation of US$5.17bn, The Adani Group has an estimated US$12bn of net debt, a significant portion of which is US$-denominated with limited hedging.
Adani Power is of particular concern, being loss-making with net debt over 300% of its current market capitalisation.

2015


The project would require a massive and improbable infusion of debt, but a growing number of global banks key to most major coal-mining investments have eschewed it, mostly because of the risk it would pose to the Great Barrier Reef. (The 11 banks that have taken a public pass on the project include Deutsche Bank; HSBC; Royal Bank of Scotland; Barclays; Morgan Stanley; Citigroup; Goldman Sachs; JP Morgan Chase and most recently Societe Generale, BNP Paribas and Credit Agricole. In May 2015 Bank of America announced it would move to exit coal lending entirely.


With the Carmichael coal proposal commercially unviable at current or forecast thermal coal prices, the project is increasingly unbankable. Fifteen of the world's largest financial houses have either ceased working on this proposal or ruled out involvement, including both CBA and Standard Chartered, where advisory mandates have expired.

Continued momentum in technological developments underpins the scaled up commercial rollout of renewable energy and energy efficiency globally. As such, the strategic 'moment' for large-scale export-focused greenfields coal mines has passed.

2017


Shareholders and financiers of Adani Enterprises face substantial risks due to the company's continuing development of the controversy-plagued Carmichael coal project in the face of major adverse structural shifts in market conditions.

The proposed mine, in Australia's remote Galilee Basin, remains a high-cost, high-risk project that is reliant on substantial public subsidies for it to be remotely financially viable. Even with concessional loans, IEEFA analysis shows the project is likely to be cash flow negative for the majority of its operating life.

Shifts in Indian energy policy and pricing have materially increased the risk of Carmichael becoming a stranded asset. Legal challenges and community opposition to the project persist and are likely to escalate if the project moves to construction.

With a market capitalisation of just US$1.9bn and net debt of US$2.5bn, Adani Enterprises Ltd will struggle to contribute equity for this A$5bn project. The project risks over-extending the balance sheet of Adani Enterprises to an extreme degree, creating a high level of financial risk to both shareholders and potential financiers……

In the years since Adani purchased the lease for the Carmichael mine, Indian government energy policy has shifted radically. Energy Minister Piyush Goyal has stated repeatedly that it is government policy to cease thermal coal imports—a policy that brings into question the very point of the proposed mine…..

* The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) conducts research and analyses on financial and economic issues related to energy and the environment. The Institute's mission is to accelerate the transition to a diverse, sustainable and profitable energy economy.
The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis receives its funding from philanthropic organizations.  We gratefully acknowledge our funders, including the Rockefeller Family Fund,  Energy FoundationMertz-Gilmore FoundationMoxie FoundationWilliam and Flora Hewlett FoundationRockefeller Brothers FundGrowald Family FundFlora Family FundWallace Global Fund,  and V. Kann Rasmussen Foundation.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Hindu, 5 May 2016:

"PSU banks are owed about Rs 5 lakh crore by corporate houses and of this roughly Rs 1.4 lakh crore are owed by just five companies, which include Lanco, GVK, Suzlon Energy, Hindustan Construction Company and a certain company called the Adani Group and Adani Power," he said.

The amount owed by this group "called the Adani Group" both in terms of its long term and short term debt on Thursday is around Rs 72,000 crore, he added quoting reports.
"Yesterday it was mentioned that the entire amount that the farmers need to pay as crop loans is Rs 72,000 crore. The Adani Group itself owes to the banks Rs 72,000 crore," he said.

The Hindu, 8 May 2016:

The billionaire Gautam Adani's Adani group, with Rs 96,031 crore debt [est. AUD $1.9 billion], is under pressure to sell its stake in the Abbott Point coal mines, port and rail project. The Adani Group's debt stands at Rs. 72,000 crore [est. AUD $1.4 billion]. Last year, Standard Chartered bank had recalled loans amounting to $2.5 billion as part of its global policy of reducing exposure in emerging markets. Global lenders have backed out from funding the $10-billion coal mine development project. State Bank of India has also declined to offer a loan despite signing an MoU to fund the group with $1 billion. An Adani spokesperson declined to offer any comments on the issue.


S&P Global Ratings revised its outlook on Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Ltd. (APSEZ) to negative from stable. 

ABC News, 22 December 2016:

The business behind the planned Carmichael coal mine in North Queensland is facing multiple financial crime and corruption probes, with Indian authorities investigating Adani companies for siphoning money offshore and artificially inflating power prices

Companies under scrutiny for the alleged corrupt conduct include Adani Enterprises Limited — the ultimate parent company of the massive mine planned for the Galilee Basin.

Two separate investigations into allegations of trade-based money laundering by Adani companies are underway — one into the fraudulent invoicing of coal imports and the other into a scam involving false invoicing for capital equipment imports.

"They are very serious allegations and they are being conducted by the premier Indian government agency investigating financial crime," Australia's foremost expert on money laundering, Professor David Chaikin of the University of Sydney, told the ABC.

"The allegations involve substantial sums of money with major losses to the Indian taxpayer."

Adani denies wrongdoing.

Rediff, 10 January 2017:

For the past year, Adani Power has been undergoing an overhaul for its debt, including measures such as equity infusion and refinancing. These have helped the company survive the rough times since proceeds from the compensatory rates are yet to come by. 

The firm expects its recent equity infusion, debt refinancing and the compensatory rate to lead to a turnaround in its financial position….

On December 6, the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission granted a compensatory rate for Adani Power's Mundra unit on the grounds of changes in Indonesian coal policy and shortage of domestic coal. 

In the address to analysts, after the September quarter results, the management said: "Once we have clarity in the form of CERC orders, we would obviously have the reason to work with the rating agencies and then we will make our plans."

The CERC order, however, has not led to any change of credit ratings so far for the company as its implementation hinges on the required Supreme Court approval for the same. 

CatchNews, 14 February 2017:

Earlier this year, the State Bank of India reportedly approved a loan of around $1 billion (Rs 6,600 crore ) for the company's coal mine in Australia. However, after much hue and cry in the media due to the highly stressed balance sheet of the public sector bank, the approval was withdrawn.

Hindustan Times, 11 April 2017:

The Supreme Court on Tuesday set aside an order by the Appellate Tribunal For Electricity allowing compensatory tariff to Tata Power Ltd and Adani Power Ltd, sending down shares of both companies.

Shares of Tata Power reversed early gains to fall as much as 6.78%, while Adani Power slumped up to 20% to its lowest since February 21.

The tribunal, in April last year, had said the two companies needed to be compensated as the change in Indonesian laws on coal export prices were outside the control of these companies.

Financial Review, 11 April 2017:

Indian billionaire Gautam Adani has told Malcolm Turnbull his company will seek a taxpayer-funded concessional loan of up to $1 billion to support his proposed $21.7 billion coal mine in Queensland......
Following a meeting with Mr Adani and his executives in New Delhi on Monday night, Mr Turnbull cautioned the loan – to help build a $2 billion railway line to link the mine to the coast – would have to be approved on its commercial merits by the independent board which administers the $5 billion Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund.

The Northern Star, 16 April 2017:

Shares for Adani Power Limited, the Adani Group subsidiary energy provider in India, were trading at 44.25 rupees (AU$0.9) on Monday, but dropped to 32.90 rupees by the end of trading on Friday.
Adani Enterprises, the subsidiary connected with the Carmichael Coal project, traded on Monday for 120.10 rupees ($AU2.46) a share, but has also dropped, reaching 116.85 by the end of Friday.


….the International Energy Association’s (IEA) modelling indicates that under a two degree scenario thermal coal demand will peak in the current decade and decline thereafter…..

However, for new thermal coal proposals we will: Limit lending to any new thermal coal mines or projects (including those of existing customers) to only existing coal producing basins and where the calorific value for that mine ranks in at least the top 15% globally. We define the top 15% as having a specific energy content of at least 6,300 kCal/kg Gross As Received. This value is referred to as the Newcastle high energy coal benchmark.

Friday, 3 March 2017

#NotMyDebt: it has spite writ large all over it


Despite any current or future ministerial or departmental denials, ‘explanations’ or excuses, I find it hard to believe that this 22 February 2017 end of business day release of a Centrelink client’s personal, sensitive, protected information to a journalist was accidental.

Particularly as this act was clearly repeated.

It has spite writ large all over it.

The Guardian, 2 March 2017:

The office of human services minister, Alan Tudge, mistakenly sent a journalist internal departmental briefings about a welfare recipient’s personal circumstances, which included additional detail on her relationship and tax history.

Senior departmental figures were grilled at Senate estimates on Thursday about the release of welfare recipient Andie Fox’s personal information last month.

Fox had written an opinion piece critical of Centrelink and its handling of her debt, which ran in Fairfax Media in February. The government released her personal details to Fairfax journalist Paul Malone, who subsequently published a piece attacking Fox and questioning the veracity of her claims.

Two responses were given to the journalist, one from the department of human services and the other from Tudge.

The department said its response – three dot points containing only minimal detail on Fox’s personal history – was cleared by lawyers and was lawful. The minister’s office then added two quotes from Tudge and sent its own response to Malone.

Guardian Australia can now reveal that the minister’s office also accidentally sent the journalist two internal briefing documents, marked “for official use only”, which had been prepared by the department.

Those documents contained additional information on Fox and her personal circumstances, which went beyond the dot points prepared by the department. They included further detail of her relationship history, including when she separated from her partner.

Those documents were then sent to Malone. The documents were also mistakenly sent to Guardian Australia when it raised questions about the disclosure of Fox’s personal information.

No mention of those documents was made in Senate estimates on Thursday, despite repeated questioning of what the minister had disclosed to Malone. Tudge’s office has now conceded the documents were sent to Malone in error. But the office says it was of no consequence, because all of their contents had been legally cleared by the department.

A welfare recipient’s personal details are considered protected information under social security law, and any unlawful disclosure is considered a criminal offence. Earlier, the department told estimates that social security law only allowed it to disclose the minimal amount of information needed to correct the public record. [my highlighting]

On 2 March 2017 Labor MP for Barton and Shadow Minister for Human Services, Linda Burney, wrote to the Australian Federal Police Commissioner requesting an investigation into the personal/sensitive information release by the minister and/or his staff:


BACKGROUND



http://northcoastvoices.blogspot.com.au/search?q=centrelink
Protection of personal information



Our obligations under the Privacy Act 
This policy sets out how we comply with our obligations under the Privacy Act 1988 and the Australian Privacy Principles which are set out in a Schedule to that Act. 

The Australian Privacy Principles (APPs) regulate how the department, as an APP entity, must collect, use, disclose and store personal information. The APP

What personal information and sensitive information is

The terms 'personal information' and ‘sensitive information’ come from section 6 of the Privacy Act.

References to personal information throughout the Privacy Policy include sensitive information unless otherwise indicated.

‘Personal information’ means: 
Information or an opinion about an identified individual, or an individual who is reasonably identifiable:
a) whether the information or opinion is true or not; and 
b) whether the information or opinion is recorded in a material form or not.

‘Sensitive information’ means: 
a) information or an opinion about an individual’s:
i. racial or ethnic origin
ii. political opinions
iii. membership of a political association
iv. religious beliefs or affiliations v. philosophical beliefs
vi. membership of a professional or trade association
vii. membership of a trade union
viii. sexual orientation or practices
ix. criminal record. 
b) health information about an individual
c) genetic information about an individual that is not otherwise health information

d) biometric information that is to be used for the purpose of automated biometric verification or biometric identification e) biometric templates


Sky News, 2 March 2017:

It was also confirmed Centrelink staff trawl social media for complaints about the welfare agency and may refer serious gripes to the responsible minister.

Senior bureaucrats responsible for Centrelink say their workers sift through print, broadcast and social media for individual complaints.

Deciding on whether to report grievances to the human services minister depended on the circumstances of each case.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Tony Abbott MP: the man who lied about a carbon tax is preparing to lie to voters once again


The week former chief of staff to Tony Abbott, Peta Credlin, confirmed that he had deliberately lied when characterising the Gillard Government’s price on carbon as a "carbon tax", The Sydney Morning Herald reported this:

Tony Abbott has laid out a five-point plan for the Coalition to have a chance at the "winnable" next election, including cutting back immigration and scrapping the Human Rights Commission.

In a major speech in Sydney at the launch of a new book, Making Australia Right, on Thursday evening, Mr Abbott gave the clearest signal yet he believed the Turnbull government is failing to cut through with voters, and that the contest of ideas - and for the soul of the modern Liberal Party - between the current and former prime minister has a long way to run.

Mr Abbott noted nearly 40 per cent of Australians didn't vote for the Coalition or Labor in the 2016 election: "It's easy to see why".

In a sign a return to the leadership was on his radar, Mr Abbott set out ideas on how to take the fight to Labor and win back Coalition voters thinking of defecting to Pauline Hanson's One Nation.

"In short, why not say to the people of Australia: we'll cut the RET [renewable energy target] to help with your power bills; we'll cut immigration to make housing more affordable; we'll scrap the Human Rights Commission to stop official bullying; we'll stop all new spending to end ripping off our grandkids; and we'll reform the Senate to have government, not gridlock?"
He said the next election was winnable for the Coalition, however, "our challenge is to be worth voting for. It's to win back the people who are giving up on us". [my highlighting]

So let’s look at this jumble of potential three-word slogans being readied for the next Coalition federal election campaign.

RET –renewable energy target

In 2014 the Abbott Government ordered a review of RET. This review found that RET tends to lower wholesale electricity prices and that the RET would have almost no impact on consumer prices over the period 2015–2030.

Despite Abbott's downgrading of RET targets when he was prime minister, in 2017 the Turnbull Coalition Government (of which Abbott is a member) continues its support of these targets.

According to the Dept of Industry, Innovation and Science network costs are the biggest factor driving up the cost of electricity and  a large part of these higher costs has been the need to replace or upgrade ageing power infrastructure, as most electricity networks were built throughout the 1960s and 1970s.

Housing affordability

In December 2016 the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) recorded 11.3 million houses/units/flats purchased by investors for rent or resale by individuals and a further 1.3 million for rent or resale by others. [ABS 5609.0 Housing Finance]

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) in June 2015 clearly indicated that purchase of housing stock by investors had increased to almost 23 per cent of all housing stock and, that increased investor activity and strong growth in housing prices were occurring along with an increase in negatively geared investment properties. [RBA, Submission to House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics Inquiry into Home Ownership]

The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) put the matter bluntly in Fuel on the fire: negative gearing, capital gains tax & housing affordability - The tax system at both the federal and state level inflates housing costs, undermines affordability, and distorts the operation of housing markets. Tax settings are not the main reason for excessive growth in home prices, but they are an important part of the problem. They inflate demand for existing properties when the supply of new housing is insufficient to meet demand. Ironically, many public policies that are claimed to improve affordability - such as negative gearing arrangements, Capital Gains Tax breaks for investors, and first home owner grants for purchasers – make the problem worse.

Competition between investor-developers recently saw $1.3 million added to the sale price of an older house at a Sydney metropolitan auction.

Although population growth is a factor in competition for housing stock, nowhere in reputable studies or reports can I find mention of immigration levels significantly contributing to this competition.  Which is not surprising, given that natural population increase and increase through migration do not occur uniformly within Australian states & territories and natural increase will outstrip migration in some states and territories in a given year.

Human Rights Commission

On 26 December 1976 the Fraser Coalition Government announced its intention to establish a Human Rights Commission which would provide orderly and systematic procedures for the promotion of human rights and for ensuring that Australian laws were maintained in conformity with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and in order that citizens who felt they had been discriminated against under specific Commonwealth laws such as laws relating to discrimination on grounds of race or sex (but excluding laws in the employment area) would be able to have their complaints examined.

The Commission was created in 1981 by an act of the Australian Parliament and later rebirthed as the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission in 1986 by another act of the Australian Parliament.

Whilst ever no Commonwealth statute exists which sets out the core rights of Australian citizenship the federal parliament continues to fail to guarantee protection against its own legislative or regulatory excesses.

The Human Rights Commission is one of the few points at which ordinary citizens without considerable financial means can seek redress of a wrong or harm done to them.

No new spending

I simply refer readers to Tony Abbott’s economic record in the slightly less than two years he spent as Australian prime minister, when on his watch economic growth was slowing and living standards were falling.

Senate reform

This is Section 57 of the Australian Constitution which would have to be amended and is required to be taken to a national referendum before reform can occur:

Disagreement between the Houses
                   If the House of Representatives passes any proposed law, and the Senate rejects or fails to pass it, or passes it with amendments to which the House of Representatives will not agree, and if after an interval of three months the House of Representatives, in the same or the next session, again passes the proposed law with or without any amendments which have been made, suggested, or agreed to by the Senate, and the Senate rejects or fails to pass it, or passes it with amendments to which the House of Representatives will not agree, the Governor-General may dissolve the Senate and the House of Representatives simultaneously. But such dissolution shall not take place within six months before the date of the expiry of the House of Representatives by effluxion of time.
                   If after such dissolution the House of Representatives again passes the proposed law, with or without any amendments which have been made, suggested, or agreed to by the Senate, and the Senate rejects or fails to pass it, or passes it with amendments to which the House of Representatives will not agree, the Governor-General may convene a joint sitting of the members of the Senate and of the House of Representatives.
                   The members present at the joint sitting may deliberate and shall vote together upon the proposed law as last proposed by the House of Representatives, and upon amendments, if any, which have been made therein by one House and not agreed to by the other, and any such amendments which are affirmed by an absolute majority of the total number of the members of the Senate and House of Representatives shall be taken to have been carried, and if the proposed law, with the amendments, if any, so carried is affirmed by an absolute majority of the total number of the members of the Senate and House of Representatives, it shall be taken to have been duly passed by both Houses of the Parliament, and shall be presented to the Governor-General for the Queen's assent.

The last national referendum held in Australia was in 1999 and cost $66,820,894 according to the Australian Electoral Commission for a vote on two questions.

Like 34 of the 44 referendum questions before them these two questions did not carry. In fact the last referendum questions to be carried were in 1977.

Prospect of successful right-wing reform of the Senate? 

Friday, 24 February 2017

Company tax rate cuts in Australia and the banks that benefit


There has been some finger pointing in mainstream and social media of late over Labor’s use of $7.4 million as the amount banks would be able to retain under the Turnbull Government’s progressive cuts to the company tax rate included in the 2016-17 Budget.

According to the Australian Tax Office on 3 January 2016:

The government announced a reduction in the small business tax rate from 28.5 per cent to 27.5 per cent for the 2016–17 income year. The turnover threshold to qualify for the lower rate will start at $10 million and progressively rise until the 27.5 per cent rate applies to all corporate tax entities subject to the general company tax rate in the 2023–24 income year.

The corporate tax rate will then be cut to 27 per cent for the 2024–25 income year and by one percentage point in each subsequent year until it reaches 25 per cent for the 2026–27 income year.


ABC News reported in May 2016 that Treasury Secretary John Fraser told Senate Estimates: The cost of these measures to 2026-27 is $48.2 billion in cash terms.


So where did the $7.4 billion for banks come from?

Australia is thought to have four big banks – the National Australia Bank (NAB), Commonwealth Bank (CBA), Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) and Westpac (WBA) and it appears that this amount is based on projections done with regards to these banks by think tank, The Australia Institute.

The Australia Institute, media release 2016:

Big 4 banks $7.4 billion budget gift

The Coalition Government’s business tax plan would deliver $7.4B to the big 4 banks.

“Cutting company tax rates delivers a massive windfall to an already highly profitable banking sector,” Executive Director Australia Institute, Ben Oquist said.

“It makes no economic or budget sense to deliver the big 4 banks a multi-billion dollar tax break when Australia already has a revenue problem.

“If your agenda is jobs and growth, targeted industry assistance would deliver a much greater return on investment,” Oquist said.

The value of company tax provisions was derived from 2015 full year annual reports for the big four banks. That figure summed to $11,123 million. That figure was projected forward to 2026-27 to give the no change scenario.

The projection assumed bank profit and hence tax payable would increase in line with nominal GDP. The nominal GDP projections used the figures in the 2016-17 budget papers which give nominal increases of:

2.5 per cent in 2015-16,
4.25 per cent in 2016-17, and
5 per cent in 2017-18 and subsequent years.

Company tax cuts do not affect the big banks until 2024-25 when the current 30 per cent rate will fall to 27 per cent for all companies with further reductions of one per cent per annum until they reach 25 per cent in 2026-27.

The results of this are presented in the following table:

Table 1. Benefit of company tax cuts for big four banks, $million
2024-25
2025-26
2026-27
Total
Savings on company tax
1,756
2,458
3,227
7,441

KPMG stated in Major Banks: Full Year Results 2015 that the Australian major banks reported another record earnings result in 2015 - a combined cash profit after tax of $30 billion.

By year’s end 2016 the major banks were reporting a combined cash profit after tax of $29.6 billion.

The Federal Government’s underlying cash balance for the 2016-17 financial year to 31 December 2016 was a deficit of $33,025 million and the fiscal balance was a deficit of $31,143 million. While net government debt for 2016-17 stood at an est. $326 billion.


There is an increasing global perception that banks put shareholders’ and executives’ interests ahead of their customers and the community. This perception is more real for banks than for other corporates as they are seen to rely not only on compliance with strict regulation, but increasingly on the goodwill of the community and government to continue to operate in their current form.

We are seeing heightened scrutiny of Australian banks, including through the recent Standing Committee on Economics (the Committee) inquiry, becoming a regular feature of media and political commentary, notwithstanding eight separate inquiries since 2009. There are many reasons for this increased level of oversight, with terms such as “trust deficit” and “trust gap” often cited as the root cause.

It has been argued that the financial services industry has lost touch with the core proposition customers are seeking by forgetting its real purpose in society and becoming too inwardly focussed. These themes were repeated in testimony to the Committee.

Readers can make their own minds up as to whether banks have lived up to the historic social licence granted them by community (see bank scandals since 2009 and alleged superannuation owing in 2017) and, if they actually need any further tax relief or if that $7.4 billion would be much better in the hands of the Commonwealth Treasury.