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John Passant

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April 2013



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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

Sick kids and paying upfront


Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. (0)

I am not surprised
I think we are being unfair to this Abbott ‘no surprises’ Government. I am not surprised. (0)

Send Barnaby to Indonesia
It is a pity that Barnaby Joyce, a man of tact, diplomacy, nuance and subtlety, isn’t going to Indonesia to fix things up. I know I am disappointed that Barnaby is missing out on this great opportunity, and I am sure the Indonesians feel the same way. [Sarcasm alert.] (0)



Tax: some recent unpublished Financial Review letters

I have written recently to the Australian Financial Review – a newspaper in the process of joining the fruitcake faction of capital and becoming a more educated version of The Australian – on mining companies and tax and superannuation. In the interests of free speech for more than just billionaires and their sycophants I reproduce below my to date unpublished letters.


Sinclair Davidson says that the mining companies pay a fair share of tax because their effective tax rate is 28.5 per cent. (Sinclair Davidson, ‘Mining pays its fair share of tax’ The Australian Financial Review Wednesday 27 March). However Davidson uses a disputed measure for effective tax rates (ETRs), tax paid compared to taxable incopme. An alternative measure of ETRs is the amount of tax paid by a company or industry divided by their accounting income, not taxable income, the base Davidson uses.

That effective tax rate figure is much less than the 28.5 per cent figure Davidson cites, often in the range of 15 to 20 per cent. One paper estimated it at less than 10 percent in one recent GFC year.

Second, Davidson uses the latest ATO statistics, those from 2009-10. It is surprising (or perhaps not) that he doesn’t mention that those figures show that the industry with the highest number of non-taxable companies is the mining industry. 73% of mining companies pay no income tax.

Add together the declining contribution mining made to public coffers over the last decade as their profits boomed, the very high return on investment, the low effective tax rate the industry has and the large number of non-taxable mining companies and it looks to me as if a super profits tax, one that does actually tax the mining companies on their currently lightly taxed very high profits, is appropriate.


Maybe Professor John Freebairn is right and the fabulously wealthy will move some of their investments into ‘other tax-effective strategies such as negative gearing’ and of course the tax free family home. (Katie Walsh, ‘Henry expert slams Labor super threats’ AFR Tuesday 2 April page 1). I say maybe because there is only so much the extremely rich can pump into their family home and there are only so many rental properties to buy.

Even accepting that the lurks and perks men and women would do that, it should not be beyond the wit of even a mildly social democratic party to tax the capital gains of the family homes of the rich, say those worth more than $2 million. Second such a government, which of course does not exist in Australia in the dog eat dog political world of neoliberal nonsense, could, heaven forbid, quarantine rental losses against rental income.

As the failed Minerals Resource Tent Tax shows, and the Resource Super Profits Tax before it, any attempt to tax the fabulously wealthy has to be systemic rather than just pick off individual parts of the tax system.

In addition, new taxes to soak the rich could be implemented. A wealth tax of just 1 per cent on the top 20 per cent could yield about $40 billion a year; a super profits tax on all economic rents (think all minerals and the banks for starters) could yield perhaps $15 billion; a steeply progressive tax system on those earning more than $120,000 a year and with a 100 per cent rate for those earning more than $250,000 would yield billions; treating capital gains like all other income could yield billions; abolishing the business tax concessions would add perhaps ten billion.

It is no accident that the rentiers hold sway in the major newspapers of … the rentiers. That explains why simple calls for more equity in the superannuation tax system (as one example of attempts at some meek and mild form of tax justice) are met, just like the Resource Super Profits Tax was, with fake outrage and real political mobilisation. Lies become the truth.

This is no surprise. The fabulously wealthy and powerful who are suckling on the teat of government in the superannuation system or gaining undeserved profits through their position as miners or bankers aren’t going to give up their undeserved benefits without a fight.

Maybe the time has come for the Gillard government to start a class war against Labor’s allies over the last 30 years, the fabulously wealthy, and perhaps, just perhaps, win a few votes. Taxing the rich till their pips squeak might stave off political and electoral disaster.

Given the capitulation of the Gillard wing of neoliberalism to the mining companies in 2010 I hold out no hope for that to happen.

After 30 years of class collaboration Labor’s deserved disaster awaits them on 14 September.


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