Showing posts with label mates rates. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mates rates. Show all posts

Friday, 30 March 2018

Corporate tax cuts lead to 'jobs and growth' in Australia? Pull the other one!

This Business Council of Australia survey was apparently mothballed when initial results indicated that it would reveal the truth about outcomes flowing from the Turnbull Government’s planned corporate tax cuts - a distinct lack of jobs and wages growth.

Financial Review, 27 March 2018:

Fewer than one in five of Australia's leading chief executives say they will use the Turnbull government's proposed company tax cut to directly increase wages or employ more staff, according to a secret survey conducted by the Business Council of Australia.

More than 80 per cent said they would either use the proceeds to boost returns to shareholders or invest in the company.

The explosive revelation comes as the government is still struggling to secure the final two Senate votes needed to pass the remainder of the $65 billion package.
The survey follows a letter to all Senators last week by the BCA and 10 of the nation's top chief executive officers in which they pledged to reinvest the proceeds of the tax cuts with the ultimate aim of increasing wages.

"If the Senate passes this important legislation we, as some of the nation's largest employers, commit to invest more in Australia which will lead to employing more Australians and therefore stronger wage growth as the tax cut takes effect," the letter said.

But The Australian Financial Review has learned that the BCA directly surveyed the chief executives of its 130-plus members about a company tax cut this year, in the wake of the company tax rate cut in the United States.

The chief executives were asked which of four options they would nominate as their preferred response to the company tax cut in Australia.

These were: returning funds to shareholders; more investment; increasing the wages of their existing workforce; or increasing employment.

More than 80 per cent nominated one of the first two options while only 16 per cent to 17 per cent nominated higher wages or employment.

The survey results are understood to have been tightly held but were reported on internally in a memo entitled "the good news and the bad news".

A spokesman for the BCA confirmed the survey to the Financial Review on Monday but downplayed its significance…….

This lobby group has now decided that 'spin' is more important than fact and senators have all received a BCA video appeal promising well-paid and meaningful jobs and wages growth that only growing investment can deliver if the comapny tax cits are passed.

A neat trick given that its members are also arguing before the Fair Work Commission Annual Wage Review 2017-18 that the minimum wage should remain as is or only be increased by 34-35 cents an hour which represents no growth in real wages.

The vague, slyly worded non-promise to lift workers wages received by Senators

Google some of the businesses on this short list and one finds an unflattering employer history with regard to employee wages and job terms & conditions.

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Just because Nationsls MP for New England Barnaby Joyce is now sitting on the backbenches in disgrace doesn't mean the Turnbull Government can ignore all those dodgy water deals he made

Example of a dodgy water deal par excellence where a Cayman Islands corporation can pocket $78.8 million from a suspect water sale in the beleaguered Murray-Darling Basin........

Eastern Australia Agriculture Pty Ltd (EAA) was incorporated in 2007 and is based in St George, Australia. It operates as a subsidiary of Eastern Australian Irrigation Limited.

According to The Courier Mail on 21 March 2018; the company is based in the tax haven of the Cayman Islands.

The Land reported on 19 October2011 that; EAA shareholders are based in Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands. Its directors include former Ridley Corporation managing director Matthew Bickford-Smith and former Colly Farms's grower services manager Peter Cottle.

EEA’s portfolio comprises two properties - “Kia Ora” (7km south of St. George) and “Clyde” (10km south-west of Dirranbandi) totalling 37,590ha made up of 12,800ha of cotton producing irrigation land with further areas of development potential.

These properties are close to the notorious water harvester,“Cubbie Station”, in the Condamine-Balonne Valley.

EAA’s entire properties, including the water licences were reported to have been independently valued at est. $107m in 2017.

In 2017 the Turnbull Government agreed to purchase over 29 gigalitres of water for $80,041,455  from EEA, which originally insisted on $2,200 per megalitre. But after negotiation, the Government paid a higher price - $2,745 per megalitre.

Then Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Water, Barnaby Joyce, approved the final purchase of 29,159 megalitres of OLF licences in May 2017 - 14,969 ML from “Clyde” and 14,190 from “Kia Ora”.

Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR) due diligence later reduced the total volume to 28,740 megalitres and the price paid to $78,891,300.

The water purchased was for Over Land Flow (OLF) licences, which cannot be traded between irrigators, because they are attached to land. They have no legal status or any recognition at a location other than where they were originally purchased. That is, there appears to be no legal basis for the Commonwealth to ensure it gets to the places it is intended to be used. [The Australia Institute, March 2018, “That’s not how you haggle”, p.3]

The sale of EAA’s OLF licences represented 74% of the value of both EAA properties.

EAA recorded a $52m gain on the sale in their 2017 Annual Report. [ibid, p.8]

The purchase appears to be in breach of the Commonwealth Procurement Rules because it was not made available to all licence holders in the valley…. [ibid, p.3]

Friday, 23 March 2018

Federal Liberals behaving badly in 2018

This was the Liberal MP for Leichardt and Chair of Joint Standing Committee on Northern Australia Warren George Entsch on 7 March 2018 at

Federal Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch is calling for big ideas from the community that could help shape the future of the region.

Mr Entsch said the $272 million Regional Growth Fund would support major projects in regional, rural and remote areas that delivered long-term economic benefits.
“This is an exciting program that is set to deliver major projects over $20 million that take advantage of the region’s natural economic strengths,” Mr Entsch said.

“The Regional Growth Fund will support additional investment for sustainable economic growth, including from the private sector, other levels of government, and not-for-profit organisations.

“Initial applications close on 27 April 2018 and I encourage everyone eligible in our community to look at the program guidelines and get started on an application.”

Mr Entsch said the Federal Government would invest a minimum of $10 million toward each successful infrastructure project, representing a maximum of 50 per cent of project costs.

This was The Cairns Post on the subject of a particular pork barrel and Mr. Entsch…..

22 March 2018

It was a long and tough election campaign for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. He finally buckled late in the 2016 race and matched Labor’s pledge to fund the final $100 million to build Townsville’s stadium.

It was a welcome boost to Coalition MPs but Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch needed a lift too.

Mr Turnbull threw him a bone in the form of a $20 million regional jobs and investment package.

It wasn’t a $100 million pledge but it struck at the heart of something the region desperately needed: jobs.

The announcement received a lot of media and Mr Entsch was delivered another term in Canberra.

But 100 days after the Coalition was sworn in there was little action and even less in the way of detail on how businesses could access the funding. Time dragged on until Advance Cairns chairman and campaign director for Mr Entsch, Trent Twomey was named chairman of the Local Planning Committee for the fund in January 2017.

Among the committee’s brief was to set the eligibility criteria. The application process was finally rolled out, closing in July 2017. Throughout the process the Cairns Post has watched, waited and asked questions to ensure the fund was not just a hollow election promise. After 20 months Mr Entsch announced in February a list of recipients; among them was a $2.4m grant for QRX Group 1 to establish a first for FNQ — a pharmaceutical manufacturing and distribution centre. The project, never heard of until the announcement, has raised many eyebrows. There are questions that need answering about the true number of jobs it will generate, a key criterion of the funding, and if there is a real conflict of interest with Mr Twomey’s wife a one-third owner of QRX Group 1.

22 March 2018

Leichardt MP Warren Entsch could face a quizzing over how the wife of his campaign director Trent Twomey won a $2.4 million federal grant to expand her family pharmaceutical empire.

The Australian Federal Police is looking into a formal complaint of alleged fraud and misconduct in the handling of the multi-million dollar handout.

Far North civic and business leaders told the Cairns Post many taxpayers held concerns about LNP pork-barrelling and whether it “passes the sniff test”.

Mr Entsch, whose son works for the pharmacy company behind the deal, said it was a “brilliant project” and he was outraged by suggestions “about fraud and corruption” over the $220m Regional Jobs and Investment Package (RJIP).

“It ticked all the boxes,’’ he said.

Mr Entsch appointed his election campaign manager Trent Twomey, a local pharmacist and Advance Cairns chairman, to head an RJIP committee panel to identify key priorities for $20m in federal grants to stimulate jobs growth and investment.

The shelf company QRX Group 1 – where Mr Twomey’s wife Georgina and business partner Leo Maltam are listed in company records as directors – won $2,415,400 in funds to build a $5m pharmacy distribution facility……

The Australian Federal Police has been referred a formal complaint but are yet to launch an official “active” fraud investigation. An AFP spokesman suggested the matter might be referred to the Department of Regional Development’s internal probity and audit unit.

Business leaders and pharmacy owners said the vision to build Northern Australia’s first pharmaceutical manufacturing and distribution centre was unheard of until the grant was announced two weeks ago.…….

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Friday, 11 August 2017

Water rorting continues in the Murray-Darling Basin aided and abetted by the NSW Nationals

And local government and commercial interests in the Murray-Darling Basin have the hide to cry that they are water deprived and should be allowed to dam and divert water from the Clarence River catchment until that coastal system is a pale shadow of its vibrant self.

The Guardian, 4 August 2017:

The New South Wales regional water minister, Niall Blair, has quietly granted himself the power to approve illegal floodplain works retrospectively.

A Wentworth Group scientist, Jamie Pittock, has accused the NSW government of actively undermining the Murray-Darling basin plan as revelations have continued about the state government’s management of the river system.

Since Four Corners report raised allegations of water theft and secret meetings between a senior NSW water bureaucrat and a small number of irrigators,Blair is under increasing pressure over his water responsibilities.

This followed Daily Telegraph reports that the Nationals MP had been urging his Liberal colleague, the environment minister, Gabrielle Upton, to change the Barwon-Darling water-sharing plan retrospectively to favour large irrigators. He said the change was needed because of an error in the rules.

It has now come to light that Blair gazetted a Barwon-Darling valley floodplain management plan which gives him power to approve flood works built illegally even if they do not comply with requirements prior to the plan.

Under clause 39 of the new Barwon-Darling valley plan, a flood work that does not comply can be approved if “in the minister’s opinion” it is for an access road, a supply channel, a stock refuge or an infrastructure protection work
A spokesman for WaterNSW said three relevant applications from the Barwon-Darling region had been received since the change but none had yet been approved.

The NSW Greens MLC Jeremy Buckingham called on the NSW premier, Gladys Berejiklian, to remove the water portfolio from the National party after the regulation changes came to light.

“This is disgraceful example of the National party giving away free water to their big irrigator mates,” Buckingham said. “Many of these areas are so flat that even a 10 to 20cm bank can divert a huge amount of water into an irrigation dam and away from natural waterways.

“It’s a massive gift of water to the big irrigators. If we want to recover the water in the future then taxpayer will have to hand over huge amounts of compensation for what were illegal constructions.”

A spokeswoman for Blair said the gazettal was a “significant legacy issue” required to create a process where unapproved works could be properly and transparently assessed. She said to be considered, works must not have been previously refused and would still need to be assessed under certain criteria.

“Supply channels are one of the types of existing works that clause 39 indicates that we will accept application for,” the spokeswoman said. “Just because they are existing, doesn’t mean that they will be approved, just that they can apply. This approach is being rolled out through all floodplain management plans.”

Pittock, an associate professor in the Fenner school of environment and society at the Australian National University, said the revelations showed NSW was systematically white-anting the Murray Darling plan.

“The ‘rule error’ and other questionable dealings between wealthy irrigators, government officials and politicians in NSW highlight how the intent of the basin plan can be frustrated by those hostile to its implementation at the state level,” he told Guardian Australia.

“Changes of regulations in NSW have allowed irrigators to take erstwhile environmental flows by allowing greater pump capacity and earlier extraction based on river heights such that commonwealth-purchased environmental water in Queensland in not ‘shepherded’ through New South Wales to the lower Murray.

“Consequently towns like Broken Hill, pastoralists and Aboriginal communities, as well as the environment, have been starved of water.

Monday, 31 July 2017

Why doesn't the Turnbull Government do more to address domestic tax avoidance?

So why is it that the Turnbull Coalition Government, home to more than one millionaire, continues to allow a set of taxation rules which favour those with both wealth and high incomes over those with only average to low incomes and little to no wealth?

According to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) – now underfunded, undermanned and demoralised – there is an issue with trusts being used for tax avoidance:

We focus on differences between distributable income of a trust and its net [taxable] income which provides opportunities for those receiving the economic benefit of trust distributions to avoid paying tax on them.

In other words; discretionary trusts are used by high-income earners to distribute investment income to beneficiaries on lower marginal tax rates, in the process reducing the overall amount of tax paid and current rules allow income to be diverted to other family members, such as stay-at-home mothers or fathers, or to dependents over the age of 18, such as children at university, college or Tafe.

Australian Finance Minister and Liberal Senator for Western Australia Mathias Cormann characterises proposals to alter taxation rates on trusts to minimise their use as tax avoidance vehicles as a “tax grab”. Well he would wouldn’t he, with so many political mates to defend.

As for collecting existing tax liabilities……

The ability to enforce payment obligations and pursue avoidance schemes has diminished since 2014 when first the Abbott Coalition Government and then later the Turnbull Coalition Government cut ATO staffing numbers.

The Community and Public Sector Union clearly told the Treasurer in 2017 that:

While the public is supportive of tackling corporate tax avoidance to raise revenue for public services, there are limits to what the ATO is able to do due to significant under resourcing. Despite a growing population and increased expectations from the community, ATO ongoing staffing levels have declined. Between 2013-14 and 2015-16, Average Staffing Levels at the ATO fell by over 4,000 or by nearly a quarter. The audit team, responsible for enforcing the tax compliance of individuals and multinational companies, was hit particularly hard by these job cuts. While there was an increase in the 2016-17 Budget, it has not reversed the significant cuts experienced over the last few years.

Given the need for more, not less revenue, these previous cuts seem illogical. According to information provided to Senate Estimates by senior ATO staff, the return on investment over the last decade would be between 1:1 and 6:1, or simply put every dollar invested in ATO staff generates between $1 and $6 in revenue.[1] Some had previously estimated that the cuts could lead to a loss of nearly $1 billion in revenue.[2]

This disconnect between public expectations that tax avoidance should be tackled and what the ATO can actually do must be addressed by the Government. It should commit to an increase in base funding and staffing for the ATO if it is serious about tackling corporate tax avoidance and increasing revenue.

It seems that while the Turnbull Government talks about an ideal egalitarian society where inequality no longer exists, behind the scenes it is nobbling one of the mechanism’s available to government to ensure that there is a level playing field for all those with only earned incomes as well as those with earned incomes plus accumulated wealth.                                      
So when Turnbull & Co announced in May this year that it intends introducing a strong Diverted Profits Tax and establishing a Tax Avoidance Taskforce in the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) one has to wonder if current staffing levels allow full investigation of multinationals operating in Australia or whether the taskforce (which has in fact existed since 2016) will be adequately resourced to look into multinational tax avoidance and the black economy as mooted.

One also has to wonder why in the face of widespread use of negative gearing of investment properties and capital gains tax arrangements to avoid paying an appropriate tax rate, the Turnbull Government also fails to reform the taxation system in these areas.

Oh, I forgot……………


1. Table 1: 45th Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia party representation

Source: Australian Electoral Commission (AEC), ‘2016 Federal Election Tally Room’

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Mr. Turnbull, about those millions.....

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Bligh Turnbull, Minister for Communications Mitch Fifield and Minister for Sport Greg Hunt owe an explanation to every Australian who has taken an income support cut or an earned income cut during the last three years because of Coalition Government policies and decisions.

Show us the contract signed by Foxtel Sports Australia or News Corp!

ABC Radio Melbourne, “Mornings” program, 17 July 2017:

The federal communications department has refused to release details about $30 million in sports broadcasting funding given to Foxtel, because it says documents about the deal "do not exist".

Senior Producer for ABC Radio Melbourne Mornings, Dan Ziffer spoke to Jon Faine about the money, which was allocated to Foxtel in the 2016 federal budget to support "underrepresented sports."

"There appears to be no paper trail for the $30 million contract," Mr Ziffer said.

"Whatever was done about this deal, it certainly wasn't written down."

Director of the Australian Shareholders Association Stephen Mayne said he believed the government gave Foxtel the money to avoid making an enemy with the Murdoch media.

"Because the free to air networks were all getting a licence fee cut in the budget and the government wants to keep sweet with all of the media," he said.

"They didn't want to have an enemy in the Murdoch's so they just gave them $30 million and then had to come up with a reason."

Communications minister Mitch Fifield has come under renewed pressure to explain why Foxtel – and not a free-to-air network or public broadcaster – was given millions of dollars to boost coverage of women's and niche sports. 

The broadcaster was assigned $30 million in taxpayer's money over four years in the 2017 federal budget in order to boost "under represented sports" on subscription television….

Labor is opposed to the Turnbull government's media reforms and the package has yet to pass the Senate. Foxtel's funding was able to sail through the upper house because it was bundled into the government's appropriation bills. 


Financial Review, 4 June 2017:
A spate of recent deals show the influence broadcaster Fox Sports has on the Australian sporting scene and how it may wield that power in the future….
Government subsidies to Fox increase
Fox will also play a part in any FFA expansion plans for the A-League, with a small kicker in the rights contract for additional matches as a result of more teams at any stage of the six-year contract. It will have a say in where the new teams come from.
Then there is the budget 2017 deal with the federal government. The government will provide subscription television worth $30 million over four years to "maintain and increase coverage of women's sports, niche sports and high-participation sports which have struggled to get air-time".
Yes, that means Fox Sports – which already has an iron grip on sport with rights to all NRL, AFL, Super Rugby and A-League matches and Supercars races – will receive government funding to show even more sport.
While the notion of giving money to ensure exposure for so-called lesser sports is a positive one, it is going to a commercial organisation rather than a government funded entity such as the ABC or SBS.
ABC News, 28 December 2016:
Following a day when there was more coverage of a stomach ache suffered by one male commentator of one male sport than there was for the entire gamut of women's sports being played at the moment, a very serious question remains unanswered.
Why, on the eve of 2017, is the media still failing to report women's sport adequately while Mark Nicholas' abdominal distress is national news?
Having covered sport for more than 20 years with NewsCorp Julie Tullberg now teaches digital journalism at Monash University.
"Yeah it's pretty funny, I covered AFL many years ago for the Australian and I've been unwell but when I left the coverage no-one could be bothered writing about what I went through — if I was pregnant, or whatever — but with men, for someone live on air for a big event like a Test match, that's newsworthy because they have such a large audience," Tullberg told ABC NewsRadio.
Turn on the radio, television, or go online during the 'summer of sport' and there are updates galore on cricket, basketball and football (the round-ball variety).
But you would be excused for thinking only men play these games despite the fact there are concurrent women's domestic competitions being played at the moment.
In a country where there are four times as many journalists accredited to cover the AFL than federal politics you would be right to suggest sport is a key component of the national culture.
The past 18 months or so in Australia have been record breaking for women's sport ... new competitions, new pay deals and a new level of respect from sports bodies themselves.
Unfortunately, though, that doesn't seem to extend to day-to-day mainstream media coverage.
The Australian, 19 February 2016:
Subscription television group ­Foxtel has reported a 5.5 per cent jump in first-half revenue to $1.66 billion, driven by strong subscriber growth.
However, higher programming costs saw earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation slip by 7.7 per cent to $434 million.
Foxtel, which is owned by Telstra and News Corp, the publisher of The Australian, saw total subscriber growth of 8.1 per cent for the six months ended December 31 and broadcast subscriber growth of 7.4 per cent….
Fox Sports Australia, which is carried by Foxtel and owned by News Corp,....

Monday, 5 June 2017

NSW Berejiklian Coalition Government has decided that a new group will be added to those already receiving under-the-table largesse from corrupt developers

If the investigative history of the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) since its inception in 1988 (as well as the existence of the Pecuniary Interest & Disciplinary Tribunal) wasn’t proof enough that everyone from ministers of the Crown, members of parliament, judicial officers, public servants, local government councillors and council administrative staff, are capable of being corrupted by rapacious developers, the Berejiklian Coalition Government has decided to increase the field for the convenience of their bagmen by adding yet another layer to the development consent process.

Councils are set to be stripped of the power to determine development applications above a certain value in a governance shake-up that will mandate the use of independent planning panels across most of NSW….

Draft changes to the Planning Act released by then planning minister Rob Stokes in January proposed empowering the minister to order a council to use an independent panel for development applications in certain circumstances…..

it is understood new Planning Minister Anthony Roberts believes that mandating Independent Hearing and Assessment Panels (IHAPs) is an important probity measure.

The panels, which are optional at present, are used by large councils, including Parramatta and Liverpool.

Fairfax Media understands Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Mr Roberts are considering the change alongside a suite of housing affordability measures to go to cabinet this week.

The final shape of the independent panels has yet to be decided but it is likely they would operate in a similar fashion to the existing IHAPs.

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.


Sunday, 1 May 2016

Australian Federal Election 2016: who else is tired of Liberal-Nationals political lies concerning negative gearing?

Human Rights Commission President Gillian Triggs recently observed that Australian politicians were generally ill-informed and uneducated.

She was speaking in reference to democracy, human rights and international law.

I am beginning to suspect her observations may apply to almost any matter that is placed before them for consideration or action.

When it comes to negative gearing, Liberal and Nationals federal politicians have obviously not read beyond those party talking points released as the federal election campaign heats up and, I suspect their ignorance is wilful. 

Readers have probably already noticed how many of them have declared investment properties and accompanying mortgages in the current Register of Members’ Interests?

So in an effort to balance the one-eyed view of negative gearing held by those with vested interests, here are some facts and observations……

What is negative gearing?

This is how the Direct Property Network (Denuo Pty Ltd) website describes negative gearing:

Negative gearing: cost of the property is greater than the income generated. e.g. total cost is $2,000 per month (includes loan, council rates, real estate management fees etc) less the incoming rent $1,500/month rent received. The difference is $500 per month or $115. 38/week, which costs the investor.
The benefit of negative gearing is the cash loss is offset against income from other sources, thus reducing your taxable income, and hence the amount of tax you have to pay (compared to the tax you'd pay without the investment).
The effects of this cash loss are buffered or absorbed by the tax system.
Because of the tax effects your loss is reduced.
Simply put: the tax man and the rental income pays for your investment property!!

And this is what the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) says about negative gearing:

A rental property is negatively geared if it is purchased with the assistance of borrowed funds and the net rental income, after deducting other expenses, is less than the interest on the borrowings.
The overall taxation result of a negatively geared property is that a net rental loss arises. In this case, you may be able to claim a deduction for the full amount of rental expenses against your rental and other income (such as salary, wages or business income) when you complete your tax return for the relevant income year. Where the other income is not sufficient to absorb the loss it is carried forward to the next tax year.
If by negatively gearing a rental property, the rental expenses you claim in your tax return would result in a tax refund, you may reduce your rate of withholding to better match your year-end tax liability.
If you believe your circumstances warrant a reduction to your rate or amount of withholding, you can apply to us for a variation using the PAYG income tax withholding variation (ITWV) application (NAT 2036).

Advice from on how to negatively gear your own holiday house so that the taxman pays for your weekends away and annual holidays.

Who negatively gears investment properties?

Business Insider reported on 16 February 2015 that:

The richest 40% of Australians carry 80% of the investor housing debt.

According to the Grattan Institute on 8 March 2016:

Data is not directly available on what proportion of home purchases are made by investors. Data on new home lending from The Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Lending Finance figures indicates that between one-third and half of new lending is to investors. And ABS census data shows that just under a third of existing properties are owned by investors.
But not all of them negatively gear. Some do not borrow, and others do not borrow enough to be negatively geared: that is, their rental income is greater than the expenses and loan interest. The tax stats show us that about two-thirds of all housing investors are negatively geared. This suggests that around 20% of housing buyers are negatively geared investors.

In 2015 Australians borrowed a total of $73.54 million in housing finance [ABS, 5671.0 - Lending Finance, Australia, Dec 2015].

These figures indicate that in 2015 negatively-geared investors borrowed an est. total of $14.7 million in housing finance.

It appears that many investors who negatively gear property have borrowed up to 50 to 80 per cent of the purchase price of their investment.

This is a breakdown of who these investors are thought to be, according to Grattan Institute spokespersons writing in The Conversation on 8 March 2016:

Click on images to enlarge

That graph is supported by a second based on ATO data:

Executive Director of The Australia Institute Ben Oquist stated in The Sydney Morning Herald on 16 February 2016:

"In total, these concessions [negative gearing, capital gains tax discount & superannuation tax concessions] are worth more than $37 billion, yet the young receive only $2.4 billion of their value…
"The capital gains tax discount and negative gearing are particularly unfair for the young, with the under 30s taking approximately 1 per cent of the benefit of tax breaks worth $7.7 billion a year and climbing.
The NATSEM research also shows that 73 per cent of the benefits of the capital gains tax discount, flows to the top 10 per cent of income earners.

The Sydney Morning Herald also reported on 13 November 2015 that:

According to Tax Office data, nearly 30 per cent of anaesthetists negatively gear their properties, compared to just 3.6 per cent of cleaners.
Surgeons (27.7 per cent), finance managers (23.4 per cent), mining engineers (22.2 per cent), and lawyers (22.1 per cent) are also far more likely to use the strategy than people in lesser-paying jobs, the data shows.
Sales assistants (3.7 per cent), hairdressers (5 per cent), nurses (9.6 per cent) and teachers (12 per cent) are much less likely than surgeons and lawyers to use negative gearing…..

Click on images to enlarge

Data shows the average tax benefit that surgeons received from negatively geared property was $4161 in 2012-13, followed by anaesthetists ($3353), lawyers ($1788), mining engineers ($1336) and finance managers ($1247).
But cleaners only received an average tax benefit of $41, while sales assistants ($42), hairdressers ($167), nurses ($254) and teachers ($327) fared little better…..

Data for the 2013-14 financial year confirms the same professional occupation mix as benefiting most from negative gearing tax concessions.

It comes as no surprise that an electorate with some of the wealthiest people in Australia - the Liberal Party electorate of Point Piper held by Malcolm Bligh Turnbull MP - is also the electorate which claims the most in average rental losses from negative gearing:

ABC News, 27 April 2016, ATO (2014) and NATSEM

According to the Brisbane Times on 1 May 2016:

New research by the Parliamentary Library has found that of the 6071 people in Mr Turnbull's postcode who submitted a tax return in 2014, 592 claimed the tax deduction to the tune of almost $18 million - or $30,278 each.
That works out at about $582 a week.

Nor does it come as a surprise to find some Turnbull Government ministers have one or more geared investment properties, such as Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton, who in December 2015 purchased a $2.235 million two-story beach-front house at Palm Beach QLD with money borrowed from the ANZ Bank. He and his wife appear to own four other properties - two of which are also listed as investments.

In fact an est. 1 in 3 federal politicians own rental properties and ownership by party breaks down like this:

Qld Nationals senator Barry O'Sullivan reportedly owns 41 of these properties, Nationals MP David Gillespie 18 properties, Palmer United Party MP Clive Palmer 12 properties and Country Liberal Party MP Natasha Griggs 12 properties.

So why does multi-millionaire Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull insist that removal of the negative gearing would hurt mum and dad investors ie those with taxable income incomes at or below $80,000pa?

Well, the first point to remember is that people with genuine and 'unmassaged' taxable incomes below $80,000 per annum are more likely to be receiving negative gearing tax concessions worth less than $800 per year.

The second point is that Labor is only talking about removing the negatively gearing option from old housing stock that is not already negatively geared.

Current investment properties - no matter who they are owned by - will be exempt from proposed negative gearing changes.

Basically, removing negative gearing from old housing stock purchased after 30 June 2017 would predominately affect that section of society which seeks to aggressively avoid tax and accrue wealth by property speculation.

The simple answer to the question of why Malcolm Turnbull has taken his contrary stance is that this is a federal election year and the country is probably heading to the polls in less than six weeks - therefore both Liberal and National ministers, senators and MPs all need to keep their political donors, personal support bases and the property, banking and finance industries firmly on their side if they are to retain their seats and win the Abbott-Turnbull Government a second term in office.

I suspect that small-time investors did not genuinely factor into Turnbull’s decision to leave negative gearing arrangements well and truly alone, no matter what he argues between now and 2 July 2016.

After all, before this election year dawned negative gearing was open to debate in his own party. As the departing treasurer Joe Hockey demonstrated in Hansard on 21 October 2015 at Page 11952 when he appeared to be agreeing with an element in Labor’s draft affordable housing policy:

JOE HOCKEY: We should be wiser and more consistent on tax concessions to help pay for that. In particular, tax concessions on superannuation should be carefully pared back. In that framework, negative gearing should be skewed towards new housing so that there is an incentive to add to the housing stock rather than an incentive to speculate on existing property

In an effort to paper over Turnbull Government unwillingness to look taxation inequities squarely in the eye, Liberal and Nationals politicians are apparently blaming ordinary Australians and their supposedly shaky levels of confidence, if The Saturday Paper of 30 April 2016 is any indication:

Coalition sources say concerns about the impact on consumer confidence of big changes to the tax system – along with the assessment that the boost to growth was too small to justify the upheaval – were behind the decision to abandon an increase in the goods and services tax. 
Similar concerns also fed into the decision not to fiddle with negative gearing.

The online newspaper went on to say:

The Saturday Paper has been told cabinet took its decision to retain negative gearing some weeks ago and that it was a political – and not an economic – move.
The policy decision was made to form part of the government’s armoury in the lead-up to the election…..

What do ordinary people think of negative gearing?

According to The Australia Institute less than 9 per cent of the Australian population owned investment properties in 2012, so it is unsurprising to find this online poll in The Daily Examiner (Clarence Valley) on 29 April 2016:


Putting it quite frankly;  protecting current negative gearing tax concessions for an estimated less than 9 per cent of the population (whose cumulative tax minimisation/avoidance is by most accounts distorting the property market) at the expense of the remaining est. 91 per cent is bad taxation policy.

Favouring this less than 9 per cent, during a federal government term which saw first Abbott then Turnbull rip into the fabric of health, education and welfare safety nets protecting over 23 million people because tax revenue is not keeping pace with government spending, is mindlessly destructive politics.

A fairer approach to taxation concessions - particularly those on self-managed superannuation funds, investments and capital gains realized - which does not encourage aggressive tax minimisation/avoidance at the expense of the common good is not the bogeyman vested interests are making out.