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The jig is up. We’re looking at you

To the Business Council of Australia (aka the Biggest Con Artists) et al,

The jig is up. You have been playing the Australian people for mugs for too long.

For too long you have been feeding us lies. For too long you have been buying politicians with your ‘donations’ which should be called for what they are – bribes. For too long your lobbyists have been dishonestly portraying your contribution to a society you clearly care nothing for.

There used to be a time when integrity and trust were important in business. No longer. Today, profit is king. Rampage your way in, squeeze every cent you can out of it, then choof off to the next scene for your rape pillage and plunder.

The lower wages are, the better you like it. What you fail to understand in your greedy rush for short term profit is that the less disposable income people have, the less customers you have.

It wouldn’t matter what level of taxation you are supposed to be paying, you would whinge it was too high. You would rather pay a fortune to accountants than to pay a brass razoo in tax.

There is no social contract anymore. There is no feeling of obligation to contribute to the well-being of the people who make you your profit or the stability of the country that allows you to trade and provides the infrastructure for you to do so, to contribute to the health and education of your workforce.

Stop looking on employees as a burden. Without us you would make nothing. Big companies don’t employ people through altruism (unless there is a government grant to do so). Without workers your capital is useless.

Our society should be a partnership but when one partner is secretly siphoning off funds, as your clients are, it’s time to rethink that partnership.

It is most certainly time for tax reform and now that we have a glimpse of the truth, we know where to start.

Forget raising the GST. Forget co-payments by stealth. Forget the welfare inquisition.

Kate Carnell, Catherine Livingstone, Innes Willox, Andrew Michelmore – we’re looking at you!

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51 comments

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  1. Pilot

    And they call the CFMEU thugs!! Good grief!! The BCA makes them look like kindergarten kids! If anyone needs to be monitored it is these clowns. They support tax rorting, industrial sabotage, lies, political shenanigans, more lies, employee abuse, robbery and thievery. This is the mob TURC should be investigating, not those defending the lowest paid!

  2. Kaye Lee

    They have reapproved the Adani mine even though they admitted in court that they lied about projected employment and royalties revenue. They paid no tax on revenues of $268 million in 2013-14. They have engaged in the practice of one arm of the company making loans to another arm of the company to shift any profits away from Australia. How we can be all smiles at Paris while approving this financial and environmental disaster is beyond me.

    Oh but look at Thomson and Slipper. And we’re really sorry about Bronnie’s helicopter and the Knights and Dames thing. Look, a terrorist. Quick Tony, eat an onion with the skin on. I know, someone feed Greg Sheridan a story.

    It is crucial that Labor makes this their focus next election – corporate tax evasion and climate change.

  3. Kenneth McGrath

    Excellent writing and spot on. The problem now is to keep the pressure up because as you note there is no political will to do anything about this. It was telling that Kelly O’Dwyer was on the box defending them and not calling for them to pay more. The social contract has been dead for years but it is about time we renewed it!

  4. Anthony Element (@observationpt)

    The Business Council of Australia’s Mission Statement is: To deceive

    Their strategy is:
    a) to lie, often and always; and
    2) To buy LNP politicians to lie on their behalf,, often and always.

  5. Kaye Lee

    We pay for the schools, colleges and universities that train their workforce and the hospitals that keep them healthy. We pay for the roads, railways, ports and airports that transport materials and produce. We pay for the police and defence force that make this a safe place to do business and for the arbitration and judicial system that protects those businesses.

    And they make their billions which they distribute to a very small percentage of people to accumulate wealth beyond anyone’s need whilst avoiding making any contribution to all those things that are provided to them free of charge.

  6. ranterulze

    When business makes a political donation is it really a bribe? Or more of a retainer? If it was a bribe the politican could refuse it and take a principled stand – but I can’t think of any such instance.

  7. Terry2

    The crazy thing is that we have a government who want to reduce corporate tax rates which they say will encourage companies to pay there tax. If we can’t even collect 10% from these major corporations how do we expect to collect 28.5% or 25%.

    Paying tax has become an optional expense for major corporations in Australia and it must be very frustrating for companies who are trying to do the right thing to see the Murdoch empire, for instance, who have a significant influence on our politicians and shape the policies of our government yet pay no tax whatsoever on revenues of $3 billion.

  8. Kyran

    There was an interesting story of ABC radio this week about unpaid overtime. The premise being that the standard working week is 38 hours and the majority of people in full time employment felt compelled to work extra hours simply to get their job’s done. Over half of the overtime is unpaid and the situation is exacerbated by technology, which has made it easier for people to continue working after they get home. I couldn’t find a link to the broadcast, but did note the Australia Institute released a paper in November 2015 to assist with its campaign for “Go Home on time day”. In 2014, they (the AI) estimated the cost of unpaid overtime in Australia at $100bil. They revised this estimate in November, 2015, to $128bil.

    The current narrative seems to be that ‘business’ will be the saviour of the economy. Yet all the evidence suggests ‘business’ is the greatest recipient of ‘welfare’. There once was a time when you would rightly expect the government put in place protections for workers and consumers. That time has long gone. Government seems to have morphed into the protector of ‘business’, cause it will save the economy.

    Having previously operated a business for more than twenty years, I saw many ‘competitors’ come and go. The ones who stayed were those that knew what they were doing, understood their staff and had long term plans. Almost without exception, they participated in forums that focussed on education, training, licensing, regulation. In the past decade, governments (state and federal) have been shutting down these industry forums. They have now ingrained a culture of the “greedy rush for short term profit”.

    Thank you for the article, Ms Lee. “…now that we have a glimpse of the truth, we know where to start.” Take care

  9. Ricardo29

    Finally Kate Carnell pinged for what she is, not just a Liberal stooge but a serial whinger about the high costs of doing business when she presides over an organisation of tax avoiders. Another fine article Kaye Lee

  10. Kaye Lee

    From facebook

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/B_gmE7aWcAA96jp.jpg

  11. Keith

    As tax payers we have paid for roads, schools, hospitals and infra structure generally. Big business needs these ammenities as much as anybody else, by not paying tax they can be seen as parasites.
    Pushing for huge coal mines means death, ill health, and displacement for innocent poor people.

    Turnbull has talked about treating voters with respect, is that the same kind of platitude as “good government” ,,,will begin…?
    The LNP lost trust under Abbott, they appear to be just as sneaky now.

  12. Sen Nearly Ile

    wowowo kaye what a beaut spray, hope labor is listening because without regular reinforcement, by little billy et al, climate change science will be ‘taken care of’ by the fixer and education will be silenced by the billions from ‘no up front fees’ and $96000 for the vice chancellors etc to bleed from the ‘90% non-university’ people.
    I still think the secret is:
    2% medicare levy before deductions on all money earned in Australia.

  13. Wayne Turner

    Spot on. Great article.

    Since labels matter. I’ll go by the Libs standards of unions being evil:-

    I am sick and tired of the “Big Bosses union” having so much to say and their MSM giving them the airtime. They are self serving greedy scum. THE REAL “LEANERS” OF OUR SOCIETY.

    Also,the MASSES need to wake up and see why they should NEVER vote for the Liberal EVER. They ONLY cater and care about the members of the big bosses union.

  14. billshaw2013

    The BCA would have the CPA (Communist Party of Australia) increasing its membership and wonder why. I’m in my 7th. decade and I have not seen corporate greed at the level we have today. Their stance on taxation minimisation, climate change, TPP and the ecology will have future generations living in poverty, disease, wars and anger at our generation.

  15. Wally

    Very hard to get any action when Australia’s largest media conglomerate pays no tax, Murdock is not going to promote corporations paying a fair share od tax when is one of our biggest tax frauds.

    “Rupert Murdoch’s media empire in the US has siphoned off $4.5 billion of cash and shares from his Australian media businesses in the past two years, virtually tax free.”
    http://www.smh.com.au/business/rupert-murdochs-us-empire-siphons-45b-from-australian-business-virtually-taxfree-20150405-1meu0l.html#ixzz3uikx6Rnq

  16. Matters Not

    We need an Alphabet of tax cheats. A complete A to Z.

    A is for Apple or Anglo American. B is for BHP or Bluescope Steel. C is for Chevron. D is for Downer EDI. E is for ExxonMobil or Energy Australia. F is for Ford. G is for General Motors. H is for Health Scope. L is for Lend Lease or Lloyds . M is for Mitsubishi or Mirvac. N is for News. … Q is for Qantas. … S is for Spotless. T is for Transfield. U … V is for Virgin or Vodaphone.

    Take your pick. There’s plenty from which to choose.

    http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/datablog/ng-interactive/2015/dec/17/tax-transparency-search-the-full-list-of-1539-companies

  17. paul walter

    Never ceases to amaze me how people are fooled by Kate Carnal’s fake smile and glib spinning on teev that hides an icy interior.

  18. Florence nee Fedup

    What we should be focusing on how the wealth is divided up in this Commonwealth of ours. it belongs to all of us. Unless I am wrong, even under a capitalist system, they need labour to create wealth.Capital + Labour has created the society we have today.

    Time to drop the them and us. Time to understand it is all of us.

  19. Wally

    Isn’t it ironic how capitalists denounce dictatorship because people do not have any say or influence on government matters but the same capitalists want/need to control everything. They achieve this indirectly by having a government full of puppets tied to their strings making them dictators albeit by remote control.

  20. babyjewels10

    Frauds and criminals rule in Australia at the moment. We have to fight harder to take back our country.

  21. kerri

    Australian greedy businesses are carrying out precisely the right behaviour that will force us back to the bad old days of militant unionism, regular strikes and general workplace disharmony! The rabid right’s obsession with demolishing unions will only lead to riotous behaviour and stronger and more militant unions. What else can the workers do? We can’t rely on bosses to cooperate and that’s why unions exist.
    But I guess when you have politicians who can’t see their nasty commentary on Islam as a threat to National Security and a fairly blatant challenge to those teetering on the edge of extremism, even when the head of our national security agency warns them beforehand??? Well jeez!!
    As for Kate Carnell? The grinning puppet? I saw her once on the Drum (couldn’t find a vid or transcript) discussing the pharmaceutical co payment. She stated she had been a Pharmacist in her earlier life. She stated that the co payment would stop people from getting that extra prescription filled “just in case”!!!!
    Seriously? A Pharmacist doesn’t realise that you only get prescribed the amount of meds you need?
    Seriously? A Pharmacist doesn’t realise that you can’t get a script filled before it is due these days?
    Seriously? Kate Carnell is a dill!

  22. lawrencewinder

    Lets ask Ex IPA / Liarbril Clown, Freedom-Boy Timmy “The Twat” Wilson how he sees the “Social Contract? As policy usher to their ruling rabble office boys I’m sure he would have a “take” on what constitutes a fair social contract.

  23. susan

    How funny was it that the enquiry into Q & A recommended it have more big business representatives! As if Cate Carnell isn’t always on it pushing the rights of businesses over the citizens of Australia.

  24. francesco

    Kaye – Is this what you were trying to say?
    “There is nobody in this country who got rich on their own. Nobody. You built a factory out there – good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory… Now look. You built a factory and it turned into something terrific or a great idea – God bless! Keep a hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.”

    The quote by Elizabeth Warren, (born 1949) an American academic and politician, and the current senior U.S. Senator from Massachusetts and a Democrat. She is the Leo Gottlieb Professor of Law at Harvard Law School.

  25. Kaye Lee

    Yup that just about sums it up francesco. When someone earning $20,000 pays more income tax than a mining company earning hundreds of millions there is something wrong with your tax system. I would say it would be a very brave government who tried to reduce company tax any time soon and same for increasing the GST. Get back to me when those earning billions start paying as much as I already do.

  26. Matters Not

    While the criticism focuses on companies looking for loop holes and then exploiting same, the real problem is rooted in the current legal arrangements, broadly defined. The current ‘playing field’ should be altered. And that means significant changes to taxation law. New ‘rules’ are needed.

    But given the TPP we are about to sign, one wonders about the implications changing tax law would have for the ISDS clauses. Because of ISDS are we forever bound to the status quo?

  27. Wally

    kerri

    the bad old days of militant unionism

    Were those days so bad, work no choices would never have even got past stage 1 and even non union members enjoyed the flow on effect.

    Unions are certainly not saints but they are much more level headed and considerate than employer bodies who want a work force of peasants to service the rich for nothing so the rich get richer without doing anything.

    If we don’t become more unionised and force employers to more civil mined and less greedy there will eventually be riots in the streets. You can only trod on people, lower their standard of living and deprive them of so much before they stand up and take back what is rightfully theirs.

    I think I prefer militant unions to the alternatives, better the devil you know.

  28. Deidre Zanker

    Great article. Starting with the Howard govt, the LNP has been demonising and destroying unions to enabled big businesses to increase their power and control of our economy. Their greed appears to be insatiable. To them there is no such thing as society. We are merely economic units rapidly becoming slave labour.

  29. Wayne Turner

    I’ll take unions for workers anyday,than what we have now. Too many casual jobs,when workers such as myself want full-time work. Casual worker = no rights.

  30. townsvilleblog

    These are the parasites who want to lower our penalty rates, well, now is the time to rise up in the streets in protest and to throw this miserable LNP government out on its miserable arse once and for all.

  31. mars08

    Remember folks… every business leader got there on merit… and is a selfless, community minded, job creator…

  32. kerri

    Wally my reference to “bad old days” is by no means was meant to denigrate the unions. I have been a union member all my working life and even went on strike with fellow teachers when I was a student teacher. What I was referring to was that the disruption and inconvenience of strikes has largely been avoided in recent times and haven’t we all been better off for that? Except of course the right wing idiots who think the workplace harmony has nothing to do with Uinions and everything to do with oppression. Unions are a necessity as long as the country is run by rich assholes!

  33. mars08

    Remember folks… every business leader go there on merit… and is a selfless, community minded, job creator…

  34. Wally

    kerri

    I didn’t take your comment as anti union, I just ran with that line to add my view on unions. Hopefully in future the tag line will be “those bad old days of exploiting workers and corporate greed”. It is amazing how many people (mainly LNP voters) who believe that unions have no bearing on the wages and conditions the general population enjoy because they are not union members.

    It is obvious looking at the difference between higher paid trades ($1000 pw) and the minimum wage that the gap between the unionised workforce and the rest gets bigger as union membership dwindles. The LNP attack on unions is having the desired effect and trades that work for the general public are in just as bad a predicament as low income workers.

    Toss the trend to employ people as casuals into the mix with high house prices and a typical low income family has lost the ability to realise the great Australian dream unless both partners work 2 jobs and don’t have kids until they are 40.

  35. Michael Lacey

    Good article need to focus on their con more as well as the tax one! Between $21tn (£13tn) and $32tn (£20tn) in financial assets has been hidden from the world’s tax authorities. To put that into perspective that is a sum larger than the entire American economy. As was pointed out to me Australia being 2% of the world economy. Two percent of $32 trillion is $640 billion. A five percent rate of return on that would yield income of around $32 billion. Assume an average tax rate and company rate of 30% would yield $10 bn. And that is before capital gains tax applied to any sold assets. A pretty penny to add to the funds for public health, education and transport. The rich and their business mates do not give a toss! It is about time we made sure they do!!

  36. Lawrence Roberts

    This is not Class War it is Class Capitulation. Where has The Labor Party been all of these years?

  37. kerri

    Thanks Wally. Add to the housing dream the fact that our young folk have enormous student debt for what most of the current parliament got for free under Whitlam and you have a situation where very few young people will be able to afford any home at all. About the time they start earning enough to start saving the HECS fees kick in and put them right back where they started so give up thinking about a housing loan. Then of course there’s the women who may have to face time off to bear and rear kids and the subsequent loss of income. The businesses don’t understand that if their slaves don’t breed there will be no future workforce and no future consumers. But part of their narrow minded plan is to keep the poor in their place. No education and only enough income to be a long term renter. I really cannot stand cate Carnell!

  38. terry

    not hard to see big business running the show , very smart , ruthless people and another three years becoming reality. be worth trillions in inside trading especially NT , stick with the 20 year plan ,be early election . be no gst..another Skye just like abbott and turnbull bad guy good guy build the anxiety and then comes the relief ,everybody feels so much better and its even worse than before with our new movie stars ha ha plastic people got to love them biggest con ever ive seen

  39. terry

    when u can go from 54% in the polls to 14% in a month and nothing changed except the leader of a party and in fact they pushed for a gst after the fact , this country has got a big media problem for a start, let alone a corrupt government

  40. terry

    question is Kyne can they buy you , the truth hurts if enough people take notice , good reading ,but u trying to hold up a sinking ship, not a coincidence labour suddenly agreed to 3 fta , one with a country that still uses slave labour , there’s a bigger deal at hand here and things are going to change big time because people don’t have a clue..,after two years of abbott and hockey they only see movie stars… worked a treat

  41. stephentardrew

    Thank you Kaye.

  42. oldfart

    Carnell was an arsehole when she was chief minister of the ACT, nothing much has changed then

  43. Kyran

    This will either reaffirm your faith in justice or have you laughing so hard, tears will follow.

    “The Federal Government has introduced tough new laws targeting dodgy accounting practices in a bid to tackle bribery and corporate corruption.”

    As the Securency debacle is cited in the article, one could only presume this legislation has been nearly ten years in the making.

    “The laws will make it an offence when a person “facilitates, conceals or disguises” in accounting documents payments or benefits which are not “legitimately due”.
    This approach aims to expose all kinds of illegitimate payments, including bribes.”

    How silly am I? I thought obtaining financial advantage by deception was already a crime.

    “The new laws, if adopted, will ensure if you keep dodgy books to hide bribes or illegal payments… you may go to jail,” Mr Wyld said.
    Until now, the penalties for false accounting under the Corporations Act have been “woeful”, Mr Wyld said, making it easier for companies to pay bribes or hide illegal payments.”

    The laws seem to be targeting ‘white collar crime’ and ‘corporate crime’, as there is no reference to politicians or political parties.

    “Plenty more needs to be done,” Professor Brown said.
    The lack of a clear Commonwealth Government anti-corruption plan, he said, remained an overarching concern.”

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-12-22/proposed-laws-crack-down-on-bribery-corruption/7046230

    Ms Lee, we may be returning to an environment of integrity and trust at last. The pace will be somewhere between glacial and snail. Ms Carnell must be terrified!
    Take care

  44. Florence nee Fedup

    townsvilleblog, they want to lower wages full stop. Look at how they treat PS. Lowers wages across the board.

  45. johnlward010

    Has anyone else heard that the TPP agreement this government has signed has a clause in it that says beef and pork on sale does not have to reveal country of origin.
    So much for Barnaby Joyce and his protection of farmers income. Suckered again.

  46. Kaye Lee

    johnlward010,

    I hadn’t heard that. I know with the ChAFTA that beef exports have a ceiling on them after which tariffs will be charged again and the ceiling is something we would have reached through natural expansion without the free trade agreement.

    “China has a safeguard clause which allows it to add customs duties to fresh and frozen beef carcasses and meat when Australian beef imports hit a volume trigger of 170,000 tonnes.

    “In 2013-14, Australia exported 161,000 tonnes of beef to China worth $787 million,” Mr Fua told the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Treaties.

    “The concern here is that given the growth in Australian beef exports to China, which has been exponential in the last few years, the risk here is that the trigger will be reached fairly quickly and China is able to apply extra customs duty which appears to be against the spirit of chapter two [of the FTA],” he said.

    Mr Fua said a similar situation applies to Chinese imports of Australian milk and cream solids.”

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-07-27/australian-beef-not-as-free-under-china-fta-as-imagined:-inquiry/6652300

    Andrew Robb, in his haste to get signatures, has made some very poor deals.

  47. Kaye Lee

    john,

    I have looked into it further. The US Congress voted against country of origin labelling because Canada and Mexico were threatening to sue them.

    “Canada and Mexico won a final WTO ruling in May, and are now seeking retaliatory actions valued at a combined $3.7 billion a year.”

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/house-votes-to-remove-country-of-origin-labels-on-meat-sold-in-u-s-1433990294

    The TPP is not really a free-trade agreement but rather an investors’ rights agreement that intends to bypass national laws to ensure corporate profits at the expense of human health and freedom.

  48. Terry2

    Off on a slight tangent here :

    The TURC is due to deliver its final report to the government on or before 31 December and it should make interesting reading not so much for the gotcha moments that the government were hoping would damage Julia Gillard and Bill Shorten but for the recommendations likely to be made on criminal prosecution of the infamous whistleblower, Kathy Jackson.

    Ms Jackson’s appeal against the civil judgement against her have been thrown out by the Federal Court and the order for her to repay to the HSU $1,406,538 in misappropriated funds stands. Interestingly, on 22 December the Federal Court made an award of a further one million dollars in applicants costs and interest in favour of the HSU :

    http://www.judgments.fedcourt.gov.au/judgments/Judgments/fca/single/2015/2015fca1467

    Somehow I don’t see the HSU getting the money back from Jackson but they are to be commended for pursuing their action and showing up the duplicity of Jackson which could so easily have been buried in the TURC process : certainly, it is arguable whether the TURC would have taken any interest in Jackson – other than as a whistleblower – had the civil action not been pursued so diligently.

  49. David Ho

    All this talk about doing away with overtime rates or lost revenue from corporations not paying taxes the real maths is lost. Also lost is what it really means: it is a transfer of wealth from the poor masses to the wealthy few.
    For example I read that there is over a million workers who earn overtime rates. For easy maths and the fact I don’t have the proper numbers, say a million workers are losing, say, 100 dollars a week from any proposed reduction in overtime rates, this amounts to a transfer of wealth of 100,000,000 each week from the many to the few (for one year this is a big transfer of wealth). This also represents a loss of taxpayer revenue and it must be assumed that the wealthy few won’t be paying the lost worker income tax as income/corporation tax. The overtime issue is always presented as the suffering of some poor coffee shop owner having to pay for labour on Sunday.

  50. jim

    Here a good read from the union”thugs” at Red flag, One thing stands out from the United Nations Climate Conference in Paris: Australia has proven itself a true world leader in blocking any serious, binding, action on climate change.

    Whoever wrote Malcolm Turnbull’s speech for the conference should be given an award. Rarely has an empty void – the most accurate depiction of the government’s “commitment” to climate action – been dressed up into something appearing so earnest and substantial.

    Australia, Turnbull announced, would ratify the second stage of the Kyoto Protocol – committing it to a 5 percent reduction in carbon emissions below 2000 levels by 2020. This is already a pathetic target, but behind the scenes Australian negotiators were lobbying hard to make it even more pathetic than it appears.

    The point of contention was what could be counted as an emissions reduction. Australia’s achievement of a 5 percent reduction depends on the inclusion of a slowing in the rate of deforestation. You might think that a commitment to reduce emissions would involve, for example, things like planting more trees. But as far as the Australian government is concerned, it’s enough that we don’t chop down as many of them as we otherwise might.

    Ever wondered what it means to do worse than nothing? In this area, Australia’s contribution to the world’s effort to tackle climate change is to continue to clear the land of forest, only at a slower rate.

    The Australian negotiators’ furious efforts to forestall any attempt to close this loophole reflect its importance to the government’s climate policy. Researchers at the University of Melbourne found that, were a slowing in the rate of deforestation not counted as an emissions reduction, Australia would be on track for an 11 percent increase in emissions by 2020.

    Another headline announcement in Turnbull’s speech was the allocation of an extra $800 million over five years to assist Pacific Island nations to deal with the impacts of climate change. In the small print, however, we find that the entire amount is to be redirected from the foreign aid budget.

    So, for example, money that might previously have been spent on water sanitation projects in Papua New Guinea or the Solomon Islands will now be spent on “climate resilient” water sanitation projects. And given the almost $1 billion slated to be cut from the foreign aid budget in 2016, there will be a lot less of it than previously.

    To be fair to the government, this could count as actually doing something about climate change. No doubt someone in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) spent a chunk of time making a new “climate funding” spreadsheet and transferring the numbers across from the sheet for foreign aid.

    The third “big-ticket” item announced by Turnbull at the conference was a plan to double the government’s investment in clean energy research and development to around $200 million by 2020. At first glance this is all very commendable. But the $200 million pales in comparison to the more than $10 billion in subsidies that, according to an Environment Victoria analysis, the government gives to the fossil fuel industry each year.

    This is a set-up that Turnbull and his diplomatic henchmen have proven themselves loath to give up on. Shortly before he strode onto the world stage to trumpet the values of clean energy innovation, he was on the phone with New Zealand government officials, informing them that Australia would not be signing on to a communique they had formulated on the phasing out of such subsidies.

    Almost forty other countries signed on to the agreement – a small but important step. Meanwhile, in Australia, the likes of Gina Rinehart, Clive Palmer and other fossil fuel dinosaurs were rubbing their hands.

    Australia’s role in Paris, of climate vandal in chief, should come as no surprise. Over the past few months there have been numerous indications of the government’s real agenda.

    In October, environment minister Greg Hunt gave the final go-ahead to the construction of the Carmichael coal mine in Queensland. The mine will be Australia’s largest ever; once fully operational, it will produce more carbon pollution than New Zealand.

    The government also signed off on the Trans-Pacific Partnership – a trade deal involving 12 countries in the Asia-Pacific region, which collectively produce more than 40 percent of global GDP. The deal is not a positive step for the environment. As 350.org policy director Jason Kowalski put it:

    “The TPP is an act of climate denial. While the text is full of handouts to the fossil fuel industry, it doesn’t mention the words climate change once. The agreement would give fossil fuel companies the extraordinary ability to sue local governments that try and keep fossil fuels in the ground.”

    In explaining the “benefits” of the agreement, the Australian government has singled out mining as a particular area of opportunity. According to DFAT, the TPP lays the basis for continued expansion of Australian coal and other fossil-fuel exports and creates “major new opportunities for Australian miners and oil and gas companies to find and develop reserves in the region”.

    Malcolm Turnbull may present as a scientifically literate man of vision – a clear break from the dark days of Tony “coal is good for humanity” Abbott. But behind the carefully crafted rhetoric, it’s business as usual – throwing a bone to the popular sentiment for climate action, while fighting to protect the super-rich minority who profit from trashing the Earth.

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