John Passant

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Me quoted in Fairfax papers on tax haven use
Me quoted by Georgia Wilkins in The Age (and other Fairfax publications) today. John Passant, from the school of political science and international relations, at the Australian National University, said the trend noted by Computershare was further evidence multinationals did not take global regulators seriously. ”US companies are doing this on the hard-nosed basis that any [regulatory] changes that will be made won’t have an impact on their ability to avoid tax,” he said. ”They think it is going to take a long time for the G20 to take action, or that they are just all talk.” (1)

Sprouting sh*t for almost nothing
You can prove my 2 ex-comrades wrong by donating to my blog En Passant at BSB: 062914 Account: 1067 5257, the Commonwealth Bank in Tuggeranong, ACT. More... (12)

My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole

Real debate?

System change, not climate change



How about increasing taxes on the rich?

Finance Minister Matthias Cormann has suggested if the government can’t get the rest of its Budget attacks on the poor, the sick, the disabled, the unemployed and workers through the Senate, it will consider tax increases.

I agree. Taxing the rich and well off could easily address the Budget ‘emergency’ and have enough left over to adequately fund better public health, public education and public transport as well as a move to a fully renewable energy society over the next decade. Not to mention decent pensions at a decent retirment age, decent disability pensions, decent unemployment benefits.

Imagine a wealth tax applying to the top 20% of wealth holders, those who own almost 50% of the more than $6 trillion of Australian assets. Even a 1% wealth tax on these people would yield about $30 billion a year.

Abolishing the superannuation tax concessions for the top 20% would recoup some of the $15 billion annually in revenue foregone.

Some of that revenue foregone if abolished would flow into negative gearing. OK, so allow rental losses only to be offset against rental income. This quarantining of negative gearing losses would yeild a few billion.

Capital gains on assets held for more than 12 months are discounted by 50 percent. Eighty percent of taxable capital gains are made by the top 20%. They benefit from this concession to the tune of billions. Tax capital gains like all other income. There’s a few more billion in revenue.

Real rent taxes on all resource companies and banks would raise tens of billions without impacting on their required return.

Deputy Commissioner Jim Killaly told us in 2010 that between 2005 and 2008 40% of big business paid no income tax. After the global financial crisis the figure is likely to be much higher. When they do pay tax, their effective tax rate (on average about 20% but in some industries like mining much lower) is well below the company tax rate of 30%. Maybe a minimum company tax imposed for example on their assessabler income think sales revenue) rather than taxable income is one way to recoup some tax from these non-taxpayers.

This is just for starters. Over to you Matthias Cormann to tax the rich.

I am sure these and the many other suggestions for taxing the rich will be taken up by this progressive far sighted government. Flying pig alert. If only unions would get off their arses and fight for better wages, for jobs, against this government’s attacks on their members and their members’ family and to tax the rich. Another flying pig alert.

Cost of Australian Tax Office job cuts outweighs salary savings

Me in today’s Canberra Times letters. Scroll about half way down.

Pamela Curr: No armed guards for asylum seeker children in detention?

Pamela Carr writes on her Facebook page about the issue of armed guards at detention centres.


HR President Triggs raises concern about the conditions on Christmas Island, saying it is a four-hour flight from Western Australia with a landing strip that is sometimes unsafe to land planes. She says she has been there three times and there were armed guards.

Bowles says: “We do not have armed guards, President. I’d like you to acknowledge that.”

Triggs promises to check.

Bowles continues: “I would like you to check that and I’d like you to retract that.” (Text from direct report in the Guardian.)

However as we know in all refugee and asylum seeker matters, truth is a flexible matter. SERCO detention guards are not armed with guns but they are not the only guards with whom children in detention have to deal. Many of the others are armed with guns, batons, sprays and other pieces of equipment.

From the moment that they arrive on Christmas Island, children are witness to and subject to a continual show of force. On arrival both children and their parents are searched and handled by armed Customs and Navy officers.

Armed Australian Customs officers

Please note they are armed with guns as well as a variety of implements.

SERCO guards are never armed with guns but they carry flexi cuffs and night torches which can be used as truncheons. Some guards carry Hoffman Knives for cutting people down.  When Children are in the detention camps these SERCO ERT (Emergency Response Team) guards enter the camp at any time for “practice and to ensure compliance”.


They march around and as a ten year old told me “they never speak to anyone and their faces are covered up”. I asked what she thought about them she said they make me “scared”.

When there is trouble the AFP may enter the camps. they are always armed with guns, batons, spray. the works.

At the Airport and all over the island armed AFP officers are in evidence.

As can be clearly seen from this small selection of photos of guards and quasi guards, children in detention are faced with heavy surveillance and frightening use of force. For those children who have experienced this in their countries of origin , the prison like environment of the camps re-traumatises children in a way which we would never allow to happen to our own children.

Every moment they are watched. They see their parents ordered around. They learn that the parents they love and from whom they expect protection are unable to give it because they too are under the control of camp guards.


Ready for action?

Happy children with unarmed protectors?

Saturday’s socialist speak out

The Abbott government remains in stasis, unable as yet to pass the worst aspects of its Budget. Treasury analysis revealed that 98.9% of the Budget had already been implemented because Labor and the Greens passed the Appropriation Bills in the Senate but some big picture items like the GP co-payment require separate legislation to be implemented. They won’t pass the Senate unless the Government does a deal with a rag tag of minor parties and interest groups and the Palmer United Party. Not just one or two of them but all of them.

The government can’t even get mining billionaire Clive Palmer to agree to abolish the Minerals Resource Rent Tax because Abbott and Hocket have linked the abolition of the tax to the abolition of the funding measures it supported on the school kids bonus and government superannuation co-contribution of up to $500 for low income earners.

This stasis has seen Treasurer Joe Hockey expose himself as an arrogant rich berk and rotten neoliberal politician. Abbott isn’t much better. However putting a smooth talking snake-oil salesman (it would be a man if it happened) in charge of the current government won’t change the fact that the problem is the shit sandwich they are trying to sell, not the salesman.

It has also seen the Government switch to fear of terrorism vaudeville, which if it weren’t so serious would be laughable. Team Australia is an exclusive club for white Anglos, preferably Christian, who like footy, beer and meat pies. Good sorts are allowed in to this blokey paradise, but not Aborigines, non-whites, communists, dissenters, lefties, gays, or Muslims, and especially not women who think for themselves.

By creating and reinforcing the threat from the ‘other,’ that is those of us outside Team Australia, Abbott and co, like all previous governments, hope to bind the white Anglos to them and their capitalist system and divert attention from the very attacks the neoliberal politicians are launching on those self same white Anglos (and others) as workers or, like pensioners, the disabled and the sick, people in need.

In Iraq the Islamic State decapitated an American journalist. This barbaric act should be condemned. But ISIS was a creature of US foreign policy and actions. The barbarism of the Islamic State pales into insignificance compared to the US itself. From Hiroshima to carpet bombing Indo-China and on to the invasion of Iraq the US is directly responsible for the deaths of millions of innocent people. Its attack dog in the Middle East, Israel, has just resumed attacking Gaza and it killed 35 innocent people overnight, taking the total of Palestinian dead to more than 2000. Most of them are civilians. The rockets of the Palestinian resistance killed a four year old Israeli boy.

Obama continues to approve drone bombings that kill innocent women and children.

The Minister for torturing asylum seeker children, Scott Morrison, argued before the Human Rights Commission that detention centres were not jails. He is right. They are concentration camps.

The censorship of voices for Palestine is increasing. A media company in Melbourne took down a billboard with one quote from Nelson Mandela and one from Desmond Tutu because of numerous complaints about the billboard comparing Israel to apartheid South Africa. Let me repat that. The powerful have censored a billboard with quotes from Mandela and Tutu. What better confirmation that Zionism is a form of apartheid?

Universities or groups within them have begun censoring pro-Palestinian groups. At the University of Western Australia, for example, according to a petition doing the rounds:

On 13 August, the UWA Socialist Alternative club received an email from the UWA Student Guild secretary informing them that their club privileges had been suspended, including the right to put up posters in Guild areas, access funding and hire Guild rooms to hold meetings.

The allegations justifying these measures are a mixture of right-wing opinion (“a student taking offence at the UWA Socialist Alternative Club’s t-shirts with ‘F*** Tony Abbott’ printed”), vague and unsubstantiated insinuation and blatant lies. They also include a complaint about a poster criticising Israel which was approved by the guild, and a complaint of “swearing” made eighteen months after the alleged incident. Such allegations would be thrown out by anything resembling a court, yet the UWA Socialist Alternative club has been judged guilty before a hearing has taken place.

To sign the petition in defence of free speech at UWA go to this link.

At ANU members of the ANU Jewish Students’ group in early March made accusations of anti-Semitism against members of Socialist Alternative.

The accusations would not hold water in any court. In March the Canberra Times of course sprayed news of a University investigation into the accusations of anti-Semitism against Socialist Alternative across its pages. Woroni, the student newspaper, on 11 March ran a disgraceful article about anti-Semitism at the ANU effectively convicting Socialist Alternative of the crimes making sure they could not receive a fair hearing. I merely note that the enquiry into the accusations has not made any comment or released any finding after 5 months of deliberations. Nor has as far as I know has the Canberra Times followed up the investigations nor commented about it.

The mud has stuck. These false accusations of anti-Semitism makes it even more difficult for pro-Palestinian activists to organise on campus. Indeed since the accusations first surfaced I have not willingly gone on to the campus.

There are other Universities where pro-Palestinian groups such as Socialist Alternative have been prevented from speaking out, or putting up posters, or setting up stalls. Meanwhile the genocide of Palestinians continues its 66 year progress.

In Sydney the Supreme Court effectively shut down a planned pro-Palestinian protest outside the Israeli Film Festival. Protesters gathered nearby faced with a strong police presence and then marched to the Theatre.

In Ferguson, Missouri, the killing of black teenager Michael Brown has exposed the racism and poverty infecting US society. The US ruing class that supports systemic segregation in Israel/Palestine supports systemic segregation at home. The riots of the oppressed in Ferguson deserve our support. Like Palestinians they are resiting an oppressive occupier.

Some Basic Thoughts on the Asian Development Model for a Conference

This short draft paper suggests that even a free market is only free in a particular country because that state allows it to be so. Of course it goes without saying that the pressures of the market, together with the institutions of neoliberalism like the austerity wavering IMF and the World Bank, plus the interests of dominant powers, can persuasively influence or even straightjacket a state in its choices. This means that the overarching goal of capitalist development is imposed, perhaps freely, on welcoming nation states eager to join the club of developed or mid ranking nations who have pulled their peoples out of absolute poverty, while the specific methods and means to achieve that are or can be debated.

To download the short paper go to the SSRN link here.

My article ‘The Minerals Resource Rent Tax: The Australian Labor Party and the continuity of change’ has been published

My article ‘The Minerals Resource Rent Tax: The Australian Labor Party and the continuity of change’ has been published in (2014) 27 (1) Accounting Research Journal 19. If you have University Library access you can have a read if your library has subscribed. It borrows from the ideas of Tom Bramble and Rick Kuhn about a capitalist workers party and the changes over time of the Labor Party.  Here is the link to volume 27(1) special tax edition of the  Journal if you don’t have Library access, but it will, I assume, ask you to pay for access.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine salutes the Black struggle in the US: The empire will fall from within

I am Mike Brown

In light of the police murder of the martyr Michael Brown and the ongoing struggle in Ferguson, Missouri, in the United States, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine salutes and stands firmly with the ongoing struggle of Black people and all oppressed communities in the United States.

Comrade Khaled Barakat said in an interview with the PFLP media outlets that “Police brutality, oppression and murder against Black people in the U.S., and against Latinos, Arabs and Muslims, people of color and poor people, has never been merely ‘mistakes’ or ‘violations of individual rights’ but rather are part and parcel of an integral and systematic racism that reflects the nature of the political system in the U.S.”

“Every time a crime is committed against Black people, it is explained away as an ‘isolated incident’ but when you see the massive number of ‘isolated incidents’ the reality cannot be hidden – this is an ongoing policy that remains virulently racist and oppressive. The U.S. empire was built on the backs of Black slavery and the genocide of Black people – and upon settler colonialism and the genocide of indigenous people,” said Barakat. “The people of Ferguson are resisting, in a long tradition of Black resistance, and we support their legitimate resistance to racist oppression.”

“As people in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Arab World see the brutality of the United States outside its borders, these communities confront its racist and colonial oppression within the borders of the U.S. The two are inextricably linked,” said Barakat. “We also see U.S. exploitation and plunder of people’s resources around the world. And inside the United States, Africans, Latinos, Filipinos, Afghans, Arabs who have suffered war and imperialism at the hands of the United States outside its borders are the same communities who face criminalization, brutality, exploitation, isolation and killings and murder at the hands of the state. We see the targeting of migrants and refugees inside the U.S. after their countries have been ravaged by imperialism, war and exploitation by the same ruling forces.”

Barakat noted that “Mass imprisonment and incarceration has been a central tool of racist control in the United States. One out of every three Black men in the U.S. will be imprisoned; every 28 hours a Black person is killed by the state or someone protected by the state. Palestinians know well the use of mass imprisonment to maintain racist domination and oppression and breaking the racist structures of imprisonment is critical to our liberation movement. We salute Mumia Abu-Jamal and all of the political prisoners of the Black liberation movement in U.S. jails and call for their immediate freedom.”

Furthermore, he said, “since the earliest days of the Black movement in the U.S., from slaves revolting for freedom to the civil rights movement and beyond, Black people, organizations and movements have faced severe state repression, targeting, incarceration and killings at the hands of the state. U.S. domestic intelligence agencies such as the FBI, who target Palestinian and Arab communities for state repression, have for years focused on attacking Black movements, leaders and communities as a central project.”

“Racism, poverty and oppression are the predominant scene faced by oppressed nations and communities in the United States. Black people in the United States are in fact under siege. And just as we demand the end of the siege on our Palestinian people, in Gaza and everywhere, we demand an end to the siege of institutionalized racism and oppression in education, jobs, social services and all areas of life, and support the Black movements struggling to end that siege.”

“When we see the images today in Ferguson, we see another emerging Intifada in the long line of Intifada and struggle that has been carried out by Black people in the U.S. and internationally. The Palestinian national liberation movement salutes the Black liberation movement, and has learned so much from the experiences of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Frederick Douglass, the Black Panthers, Sojourner Truth, and generations of Black revolutionaries who have led the way in struggling for liberation and self-determination,” said Barakat.

“The struggle inside the United States is an integral part of the struggle against imperialism – in fact it is central, as it is taking place ‘in the belly of the beast.’ This is also the case for the struggle of Indigenous peoples and nations throughout North America, where settler colonial powers have been built through land theft and genocide, yet where indigenous people have always resisted and continue to resist today,” he said.

“Every victory inside the United States and political achievement by popular movements and liberation struggles is a victory for Palestine and a victory for a world of human liberation. Those who think that the fate of people in the United States lies with the ruling class parties, the Republicans and Democrats, until the end of time, are living in an illusion. So too are those who believe Palestine can find freedom by seeking alliances or guarantees by those who oppress Black people,” said Barakat.

Global Intifada

“The Black struggle is leading the world in the struggle for an alternative political system that will bring U.S. empire to defeat. We know that this will happen only through struggle, through organization of people, emerging from uprisings and communities rising in anger against injustice,” said Barakat.

“The anti-racist movement and anti-Zionist movement are not and cannot be separated. Fighting against racism means fighting capitalism; fighting against capitalism means fighting for socialism,” Barakat said.

The Front encourages all Palestinians, and especially our Palestinian community in the United States, to continue and intensify their efforts in support of the Black liberation movement, from joining actions in support of Ferguson and in honor of Michael Brown, to long-term and sustained joint struggle and mutual solidarity with the Black movement. There are long histories of this work, and it is critical for all of our communities to expand and deepen our links of struggle and solidarity.

The PFLP sends its revolutionary greetings, its solidarity message and its salutes to the struggling people of Ferguson on the front lines confronting U.S. empire, and to the generations upon generations of Black struggle. Our Palestinian liberation movement is part of one struggle with the Black liberation movement. This has been a position of principle for the Front since its founding; we reaffirm this stand today and will always do so until both of our peoples – and our world – are liberated.

The real duds in the Australian Tax Office

Unlike Tax Office Second Commissioner Geoff Leeper, as a former Assistant Commissioner in the Office, I am quite prepared to use the ‘dud’ word to describe some ATO staff. (ATO negotiations Canberra Times Letters, 20 August 2014′. Scroll down the page to just before half way down.)

I’d start with the Commissioner and Second Commissioners, not because I think they are work shy, but because their staffing policies are duds. Clearly what the Commissioner and the other representatives of the 1% now in charge of the ATO are doing is cutting back massively on staff numbers with the effect that their mates in big business will pay even less tax than some of them now do. Of course more than 40 percent of them pay no income tax anyway.

The Tax Office will deny that job cuts advantage big business and will claim that they can collect just as much after cutting ten or twenty percent of their workforce as before,. I’d like to see the ATO, in the interests of transparency, release all their analysis of the impacts of staff cuts on revenue collections. If they don’t you’d have to question why not.

The confusion about the impact of the cuts among senior Tax officials evident at a previous Senate Estimates hearing will continue. Some of that evidence indicated that the loss of revenue could be as high as six to one, that is six times the amount ‘saved’ in expenditure on staff could be lost in revenue collected.

It is my understanding that the loss of long term experienced tax officers is already having an impact on revenue collections and with more job cuts to come the decline in collections, especially from the tax risk takers in big business, will only get worse.

But not to worry. Treasurer Joe Hockey can just use that as further ‘evidence’ to back up his false claims about a Budget emergency and cut more public services and public service jobs.

The 1% will be pleased.

Their barbarism and ours

Maybe, just maybe, the barbarism of the Islamic State is a consequence of and reflection of the West’s own widespread and systemic barbarism.

Let’s play spot the difference.

Evidently this is barbaric.

(Photo: Reuters/Social Media Website v / ) A masked Islamic State militant holding a knife speaks next to man purported to be U.S. journalist James Foley at an unknown location in this still image from an undated video posted on a social media website.


But this isn’t.

A dead Palestinian baby, killed by our allies, the Israelis


And these kids, killed by Obama’s drones, evidently aren’t examples of the West’s barbarism either.


Yossi Gurvitz summed it up nicely (a friend’s translation): ‘What a bunch of primitives are these ISIL people, beheading people. They should have killed toddlers and women by bombing them from a state-of-the-art plane, then they’d get called “The only democracy in the Middle East™.

איזה פרימטיבים הדאע”ש האלה, עורפים אנשים. היו צריכים להרוג פעוטות ונשים בפצצה מתוחכמת ממטוס משוכלל, היו קוראים להם דמוקרטיה יחידה במזה”ת

Of course China is no threat

With all this kerfuffle over Palmer United Party parliamentarians Clive Palmer and Jacqui Lambie making such anti-Chinese comments, I thought it appropriate to add my two bob’s worth.

Of course Chinese imperialism is no threat at all to the declining economic power of US imperialism. That must be why the Australian ruling class has given such a big base at Darwin to the US.

The Chinese might make a song and dance about the remarks of Palmer and Lambie but they know the real threat to their own imperialist expansion is US imperialism and that much of US foreign policy and strategy is about containing China.

The action of governments of both persuasions in Australia in joining the US-led China containment program is more of a worry to the Chinese ruling class than the caterwauling of a few PUPs. So too is Obama and Tony Abbott cosying up to a rearming Japan.

Who should the Chinese ruling class really be worried about? The Chinese working class they have created.

And who should we Australian workers be worried about? The Australian ruling class and its two political parties.

Here is Mark Textor, Tony Abbott adviser, in the Australian Financial Review in 2012 on the threat the right-wing really believes China poses.

Here is how The Canberra Times’ brilliant cartoonist David Pope captured it.