EDITORIAL EXCERPT: Tax cheat Turnbull attacks cheats

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(Cartoon by Mark David / @MDavidCartoons)

Malcolm Turnbull has some nerve calling the Australian cricket team “an absolute disgrace” after being caught out trying to cheat Australian taxpayers out of $65 billion.

PRIME MINISTER MALCOLM TURNBULL took a few shots at Australia’s cricketers this week, on Tuesday declaring them“a terrible disgrace”:

“This has been a shocking affront to Australia. How many of us as children. How many of us as fathers and mothers have had children who have looked up to the Australian team … [as] role models ... [and] their idols. This cheating is a disgrace…. It is a terrible disgrace.”

Yet Turnbull and the Business Council of Australia (BCA) cronies are themselves engaged in win-at-all-costs campaign to pass a $65 billion tax payout to the biggest and most profitable corporations the world. They say the benefits of the tax cut will trickle down to the people (though they are careful not to use those exact words) in the form of greater investment, more jobs and higher wages.

Yet, we know Turnbull and his friends are lying.

How do we know? Because of history, for a start, because trickle down economics has been shown, repeatedly, right around the world, to barely, if ever, increase growth but to always add to inequality. More specifically, we know because business leaders in the U.S. and Australia have confirmed ‒ in private, though the truth has trickled out ‒ they won’t pass on corporate tax cuts on to the people.

In the United States, this was confirmed at a Wall Street Journal “CEO Council” event that featured the Trump’s senior economic advisor Gary Cohn as key speaker.

CEOs in the room were asked:

If the tax reform bill goes through, do you plan to increase investment ‒ your companies’ investment ‒ capital investment.”

Only a few hands go up in the vast room, leaving Cohn to ask:

“Why aren’t the other hands up?”

Cohn should have known that hands weren’t up because highly profitable companies don’t need tax cuts — they already making plenty of money and can raise more to finance investments any time they want. Tax cuts are just the cream on the top — and we all know fat cats hate to share cream.

Back home, a secret BCA survey of Australia’s “leading executives” leaked to the Australian Financial Review (AFR) found

‘… fewer than one in five would use the proposed company tax cut to directly increase wages or employ more staff.’

Other documents leaked to the AFR showed Australia’s biggest companies refused to sign a BCA agreement committing them to paying tax and providing greater transparency about their tax affairs. Nevertheless, 12 of the BCA's top member executives ‒ including the CEOs of Fortescue, Qantas and BHP ‒ wrote to the Senate last week urging them to pass the company tax cuts, vowing to invest more in Australia, yet declining to commit to raise workers’ wages or employ more staff.

The commitment to “invest more” in Australia as a result of company tax cuts must also be regarded with scepticism verging on disbelief. A tax plan designed to reduce taxation of new investments might achieve that, perhaps. But most corporate profits are the result of historical activities, so a tax cut will merely provide a windfall for existing capital, which will be passed on to investors as dividends. And in Australia, most of the biggest and most profitable companies are owned by overseas investors, who would be receiving a tasty bonus courtesy of the Australian taxpayer — you and me.

The corporate tax cut arguments, therefore, are a sham. In cricketing parlance, they are cheating —in this case, us out of our money. Despite this, the BCA ‒ guest starring PM Malcolm Turnbull ‒ yesterday launched a TV advertising campaign at Parliament House designed, it said, to restore “faith and trust” in business, while at the same time spruiking lower tax to build “stronger businesses”. It is all rather reminiscent of a similar campaign by the big miners against Rudd’s mining tax — and, indeed, many of the businesses are the same. It would all be funny if it wasn’t so brazen.

Is it really any wonder our professional cricketers ‒ young men without that much worldly wisdom, apart from whatever they may have learnt on the cricket field ‒ attempt to cheat in order to win, when our leaders shamelessly do the same. They say our sportspeople should set an example for youngsters growing up, but the truth is we all must set an example — and that includes most particularly our political and business leaders. When our politicians lie and our business leaders cheat, all to achieve personal power and financial gain, this sets an example that “trickles down” to every section of our society. One only needs to watch Parliamentary Question Time ‒ or even the nightly news ‒ to feel a sense of shame and disgust for what we have become.

Sure, the cricketers did the wrong thing, but rather than condemn and cast stones, perhaps we should instead look towards ourselves and our society. A society that appears to encourage youngsters to make these sorts of decisions. At the self-centred, iniquitous, dog-eat-dog land we have become and consider who is really responsible for all this.

Malcolm Turnbull called our cheating cricketers “a terrible disgrace”. Perhaps he should remove the bat from his own eye before seeking to remove the bail from his neighbours’?

This is only half the story! The full version of this editorial, originally published as part of the Independent Australia weekly subscribers' newsletter, may be read in the IA members only area. It takes less a minute to subscribe to IA and costs as little as $5 a month, or $50 a year — a tiny sum for quality journalism and many great extras! 

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You can follow managing editor Dave Donovan on Twitter at @davrosz.

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