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Cherchez des revenus

When my husband lost his job not long after the birth of our first child, my immediate reaction was to ring my old boss and go back to work. I didn’t sit there thinking what spending I could cut – I actively pursued employment. We were already pretty frugal, living on one income, so cuts would have meant a lowering of our living standard – doable but not my first choice.

Which is why everything this government is doing in the budget seems so wrong to me.

They screamed blue murder about the burden on cost of living imposed by the carbon tax but the cuts they are making take far more away from those least able to afford it than removing the carbon tax will replace. The poor, the sick, the elderly, the unemployed, our students – all will face a substantial reduction in future disposable income.

While we increasingly hear about the lack of affordable housing, and a possible housing price bubble due to low interest rates and a burgeoning investment market sending prices soaring, both parties hasten to say they have no intention of changing the negative gearing tax concessions. Why not?

Negative gearing allows investors to deduct losses made on rental properties from their other income, thereby reducing their overall annual tax liability. The Grattan Institute says it costs the federal government $2.4 billion a year, and there is “little justification for it.”

The Reserve Bank said strong demand by investors meant investor housing loans now accounted for about 40 per cent of all home loans. It said it had become so concerned about Australia’s overheating property markets that it was openly questioning whether bank lending practices were “conservative enough.”

Once again, I find this an odd statement. If the banks’ lending becomes more conservative, the people who will miss out on loans are the first home buyers, not the investors. Why not make it less attractive to investors by removing negative gearing They are the ones driving up the prices.

Then there is their approach to superannuation.

As Treasury revealed in the budget, the annual cost of superannuation tax concessions is set to surge in coming years, making the current cost - nearly $32 billion - look paltry as it rises to a remarkable $50 billion in 2017-18. At that point the cost of superannuation will exceed the cost of the age pension

Australia’s richest taxpayers will collect over $35.5 billion in tax concessions via the superannuation system over the next five years, and by 2017-18 they will be taking over $8 billion a year.

And far from contributing to the burden of helping repair the deficit, the top 5% of taxpayers will enjoy an increase in tax concessions above current levels of over $2.9 billion dollars by 2017. That increase by itself is almost enough to wipe out the revenue generated by the government’s temporary deficit levy on incomes over $180,000, which is forecast to yield just over $3 billion in that period.

Just curbing the growth between now and 2017-18 could deliver nearly $15 billion to the government, several times more revenue than the temporary tax levy, twice as much as the cuts to foreign aid, and many multiples of savings through punitive cuts to Newstart.

Hockey also removed the legislation to tax retirement incomes at 15% on the excess over $100,000 pa, foregoing over $3 billion in revenue.

At the other end of the scale, the people most likely to qualify for an old age pension are having their superannuation savings slashed by the delay of the superannuation guarantee increase by 7 years and the removal of the low income co-contribution.

And then we have capital gains tax concessions.

The other big costs are the capital gains tax exemption on the family home (estimated to grow to $57 billion over the three years to 2017-18) the 50 per cent discount on capital gains (which could hit $70.5 billion over the same period) and the cost of CGT discounts for individuals and trusts (estimated at $28.3 billion).

Whilst removing the CGT exemption from the family home could have deleterious impacts, a broad-based land tax (preferably in place of stamp duties) would encourage a more efficient use of the housing stock and improve labour mobility, penalise land banking and vagrancy (increasing effective land supply in the process), and help to make infrastructure investments self-funding for governments (since any land value uplift brought about through increased infrastructure investment would be partly captured by the government via increased land tax receipts).

A report released earlier this year by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimated that Australia has the highest tax expenditures in the OECD when measured against GDP. These include government revenues foregone as a result of differential, or preferential, treatment of specific sectors, activities, regions, or agents. They can take many forms, including allowances (deductions from the base), exemptions (exclusions from the base), rate relief (lower rates), credits (reductions in liability) and tax deferrals (postponing payments).

There is a strong case to limit superannuation concessions, which have increasingly become a mechanism for richer older people to avoid paying tax, rather than a genuine means for Australians to pay for their own retirement and avoid drawing on the Aged Pension. There are very good reasons to quarantine negative gearing losses, so that they can only be applied against income from the same asset, as well as removing the capital gains tax concession on investments (why should they be taxed at a lower rate than income?). These concessions are skewed towards the wealthy and high income earners, undermining the progressiveness of the tax system.

Mathias Cormann assures us that we have very strict tax avoidance laws.

These “strict” laws allow 75 individuals who made an average of $2.6 million each in 2011-12 to pay no tax at all – no income tax, no Medicare levy and no Medicare surcharge.

These “strict” laws allow almost a third of Australia’s largest companies to pay less than 10¢ in the dollar in corporate tax.

Ernst & Young is the auditor of Westfield Group, James Hardie and 21st Century Fox, all of which pay less than 1 per cent tax, according to the report, Who Pays for Our Common Wealth, produced by the Tax Justice Network and the union United Voice.

It is also the auditor of some of the US multinational tech companies accused of paying minimal tax in Australia, including Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook.

Accounts show 21st Century Fox spent $US19 million on tax advice from E&Y in 2013.

The G20 assure us that they are talking about how to cut down on tax avoidance. A deal struck at the G20 summit in Cairns will see authorities in more than 40 countries sharing information – including bank balances and income – to identify companies that avoid tax.

But Australia will not begin swapping the financial details until September 2018, one year after countries including Britain, Germany, India, Ireland, The Netherlands and a handful of tax havens.

Why wait? We make our own laws, we could close the loopholes right now if we wanted to. Instead, we are slashing staff at the Australian Tax Office by so much (4,700 over the next few years) that they will not have the personnel to pursue tax cheats.

“Morale is down and 3000 of our most senior staff have recently taken redundancy package,” said one former officer. “There was also an absurd clear out of senior transfer pricing staff about two years ago, so there is very little likelihood of the ATO ‘manning-up’ on multinationals any time soon. The general impression among senior ATO officers is that we are supposed to give the big firms what they want and to usher the revenue out the door. The News decision (not to appeal the $882 rebate to Rupert) is symptomatic of that and a lot of staff were pissed we caved on that case.”

With reports that one in three elderly Australians are living in poverty, despite being among the most highly educated senior citizens in the world, that 17% of our children live in poverty, that making unemployed people under 30 wait six months for income support and raising the eligibility age for the dole to 25 could breach human rights to social services and an adequate standard of living, I would suggest that if Tony Abbott wants to spend hundreds of billions on defence and border security he starts taxing his party donors, beginning with Rupert.

Perhaps you may want to see how the French are approaching their deficit.

Il est evident. Cherchez des revenus, stupide.

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  1. Lorraine Stansfield

    Good article!

  2. Marg1

    Well said Kaye. Unfortunately this government only got in on a pack of lies and they are still lying. They have no conscience.

  3. Terry2

    Interesting that Mr Abbott, whilst in New York, couldn’t find the time to attend the Climate Summit but did find time to dine with Rupert Murdoch.

    As Mr Abbott would no doubt say, it’s all a question of priorities.

  4. diannaart

    Impossible to have any faith in a government which slashes its revenue streams while crying “budget crisis”, “Labor’s mess” and “EVERYONE must lift” when there is no evidence of a crisis, blaming previous administration is way too easy and some people are more special than others by having their taxes reduced.

    Australia egalitarian? Pig’s Arse! I mean le cul de cochon!

  5. Kaye Lee

    Every Australian political leader since Black Jack McEwen and John Gorton has cosied up to Rupert Murdoch – or tried to – but none has done it quite so publicly or effusively as Tony Abbott.

    The Australian newspaper, according to Mr Abbott during his enthusiastic celebration of the paper’s 50th birthday, has been Mr Murdoch’s gift to our nation.

    In 1969, Murdoch needed to transfer enough foreign exchange out of Australia to buy the British paper News of the World, but there were all sorts of official regulations on such a currency transfer.

    His friend Black Jack McEwen, then deputy prime minister, keen to bypass the less-than-helpful treasurer Billy McMahon, phoned Mr Gorton.

    ”John, we have a bit of a problem,” Mr McEwen said, according to Mr McEwen’s press secretary Bill Carew, quoted in Peter Golding’s book Black Jack McEwen, Political Gladiator.

    ”Young Rupert Murdoch needs some foreign exchange out of the country and we can’t track Billy down. Can you do it?”

    ”Righto, John,” said Mr Gorton, who only wanted a bottle of scotch out of the deal.

    And so the PM signed and, in Mr Carew’s words, ”Gorton went off with his scotch. Rupert went off to buy his newspaper.”

    Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/pm-leads-cheers-for-murdoch-gift-20140716-3c1lr.html#ixzz3EruFqKTu

    What Rupert wants, Rupert gets.

  6. stephentardrew

    It makes me wanna choke on a old overripe pickle cucumber.
    Dumber and dumbest just floating along with the tide, one screwing the poor, the other living in fear of making a stand.
    Facts, facts glorious facts yet no one seems to care.
    That is no one who matters in big speak bloviating right wing media land.
    Good heavens if only we could imprint such facts upon the brows of the meek and easily led lazies of conformist stupefaction.
    This corrupt government would fall in a thrice.
    Poor fools ignore honest lions of truth for lying despicable lice.

  7. Michael

    Looking at the Wixxyleaks website today at the copious material now publicly accessible on Kathy Jackson, I was reminded of how vigorously Tony Abbott and Christopher Pyne defended her in parliament, as a putative fearless whistleblower fighting against Union corruption.

    What they didn’t say was that as a union official, she ran to the most extravagant of tastes, and an ability to draw on the funding of members that was, and indeed is more than a match for Tony Abbott’s advanced capacity to reimburse himself from tax payer money, for every single thing he does. One can’t help but notice a congruence of values with respect to their own respective elevated sense of entitlement to draw on the public purse. And what we now know since September 2013, is that most of Tony Abbott’s public statements need to be viewed as the reverse of what he believes and what he will actually do.

    Then I recollect that Bob Santamaria was one of Abbott’s cherished mentors. Like his protege, Santamaria, if nothing else was an obsessive master of political intrigue, as well as being an ideological warrior, and I began to wonder just how Kathy Jackson, a person who seems to have been a fellow traveller with those in the R.H. Nicholls Society,(less so with those in the union movement), came to be such a prominent member within the Health Services Union. Admittedly, Jackson is bright, articulate and assertive, but LNP connections, I suspect she has more than just a few. And of course, Abbott has political intrigue form if we recollect his shadowy role leading to the conviction of Pauline Hanson, a decade ago.

    Among that Wixxyleaks archive of material was Craig Thomson’s statement to Parliament on 21 May 2012, which now makes very interesting reading, given what has since happened to Michael Williamson and what perhaps still awaits Kathy Jackson. But it is Thomson’s final angry statement directed at Abbott that from the perspective of late 2014 has political prescience. Thomson concludes that the then Leader of the Opposition was not only unfit to be Prime Minister, he was unfit to be an MP. On so many fronts, we are learning Thomson was right in his judgement of Abbott.

    Thanks again Kaye for yet another disturbing article about what is band of weird people are doing to this nation.

  8. Ana Milosevic

    Every word in your article has aright place. It really is very disturbing to watch where we are taken by this fascist government.
    We may just wake up and find out that we “slept” far too long in a complacent little world of ours

  9. Kaye Lee

    Speaking of weird people….

    Maurice Newman, the prime minister’s business adviser, has called for a government-funded review of the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) to “dispel suspicions of a warming bias” in its temperature record-keeping.

    “As a member of the World Meteorological Organisation, the BoM is inevitably caught up in global warming politics,” he wrote.

    “After all it was the WMO that part established the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and it remains an anthropogenic warming propagandist.”

    In 2011 and 2012, an international panel conducted a review of the BoM’s Australian Climate Observations Reference Network – Surface Air Temperature (or Acorn-Sat) dataset. The experts ranked the BoM’s procedures and data analysis amongst the best in the world.

    In his latest opinion piece, Newman pulls out an Einstein quote “Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.”

    Quite so.

  10. Rotha Jago

    Thanks for the article. Very interesting comments. Smoke and mirrors all around. The treasurer in defending his budget this morning on ABC RN reminded me of the The Knights who say nigt in Monte Python movie. The knight kept asking for a fight but seemed not to notice that he was getting the worst of the battle. First he lost an arm then both his legs and then his other arm…..he still called on his opponent to fight. Ridiculous! So is our treasurer.

  11. Kaye Lee

    The Ministry of Silly Talks.

    That budget’s not dead…it’s just having a compromise.

    We are the Knights of Abbott and we want….a surplus!

  12. corvus boreus

    Kaye Lee,
    It would seem Mr Maurice Newman has augmented his customary tin-foil hat with a set of antennae fashioned from an old coathanger and a pair of ping-pong balls.
    Not content with receiving an obscene bounty(subsidised by my taxes), through a blatantly political/ideological crony appointment, to rationalise why wealthy profiteers should pay less tax and I should receive less wages, he now wants me to also foot the bill for a pointless and ridiculous witch-hunt based upon his ignorant and deluded visions of a conspiracy among the ‘Illuminati of Meteorology’.
    Wow, what a totally knuck-f*ckled loon.

  13. Kaye Lee

    She’s a scientist…..

  14. stephentardrew

    It is unbelievable that a government would align themselves with a dunderhead like Newman. That is about the dumbest weirdest thing I have ever heard. The guy is an intellectual incompetent and needs real academic assessment. A course in logic would not go astray. This demeaning of Australia’s most effective intellectuals and scientist is just beyond the pail. The media should bring a full frontal attack upon the integrity and intelligence of Newman however I fear nothing will happen.

  15. Möbius Ecko

    Rotha JagoOctober @ 9:42 pm

    Joe Hockey stated in a radio interview I switched into towards the end that his government is well on track to meet its employment target promise and is creating 30,000 new jobs a month compared to the previous government’s 5000 a month in its last year.

    JOE HOCKEY: Well, just wait and see.

    But I’d just say to you Chris, we are absolutely determined to help to strengthen the Australian economy. The best way to do that is to strengthen the Budget and that means more jobs and greater prosperity.

    And that’s one of the reasons why Chris, we’re running new job creation this year at six times the rate that it was last year under Labor.

    CHRIS UHLMANN: So a million new jobs?

    JOE HOCKEY: So nearly 30,000- nearly 30,000 new jobs a month – a month – on average this year compared to 5 000 new jobs a month last year under Labor.

    Can anyone, Kaye Lee, establish the veracity of this?

    I note that in the interview he also tells some other exaggerations and porkies, like on offshore tax evasion, where as usual he blames inaccurate reporting rather than the truth of the matter.

  16. Kaye Lee

    According to the July ABS Labour Force survey, the number of people employed full-time and part-time between December 2013 and July 2014 rose by 109,300.

    The Labour Force survey for August indicated a sharp spike in people employed, showing an additional 121,000 in the seasonally adjusted figures for the month.

    It also revised previous data, and concluded that between December 2013 and July 2014 the seasonally adjusted increase in employed persons was 115,500.

    The revised trend estimates are again similar, showing 132,400 more employed people in July than December.

    This does not however indicate the number of jobs created but the number of people employed.

    Employment growth has been less than population growth, which is why the unemployment rate is up even though more people are employed.


    The preliminary estimated resident population (ERP) of Australia at 31 March 2014 was 23,425,700 people. This reflects an increase of 388,400 people since 31 March 2013 and 111,600 people since 31 December 2013.

  17. diannaart


    Not unbelievable the Abbottoir would appoint Newman, simply very disturbing. Now, with the news Maurice Newman is to eviscerate BOM, I am freaking scared witless.

  18. Kaye Lee

    The Bureau of Meteorology faces a $10 million cut to its budget over the next four years. Estimates of average staffing levels show more than 80 staff could lose their jobs in the next year.

    BOM’s capacity to deliver climate research is also likely to be affected by the effective cessation of the Australian Climate Change Science program. The ACCSP will be folded into a New National Environmental Science Program, with an associated funding cut of $21.7 million. CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology were two of the largest players in the ACCSP.

  19. rikda

    I think it’s pretty easy to fiddle the figures with jobs & workers.
    If you count someone getting a job & getting off the dole & also those that have registered because they lost that same job. Then make an in-depth survey of how & why population grew, you can bet the figures would be a whole lot less inspiring.
    Then when they are sourced from Joe “Pinochio” Hockey, well, you know, he’s still trying to figure out who the IMF is. He thinks it’s Italian texting for “It’sa my Ferrari”

  20. Kaye Lee

    I agree rikda. Population is harder to fiddle with. If we increased by 388,400 in one year then theoretically (and without investigating the demographics – if they don’t need a job now they will in the future) we need over 32,000 extra a month to keep pace with population growth.

    The contribution to population growth for the year ended 31 March 2014 was higher from net overseas migration (60%) than from natural increase (40%).

    natural increase for the year ended 31 March 2014 was 156,900 people

    estimate of births for the year ended 31 March 2014 (306,500 births)

    estimate of deaths for the year ended 31 March 2014 (149,600 deaths)

    For the year ended 31 March 2014, Australia’s preliminary net overseas migration (NOM) estimate was 231,500 people

  21. stacky66

    So …. you’re down to one income but you don’t want to drop your standard of living.
    The government clearly needs to pick up your slack?
    Fix the simple things first.

  22. Kaye Lee

    Don’t misquote me.

    The point of this article is that we have a revenue problem rather than a spending problem…as I did at the time. There was very little slack to cut in the way we were living and I was in the lucky position of being able to resume employment immediately. Would you have preferred us to claim unemployment benefits and lose the home we had only just bought?

    It was a relatively “simple” fix considering my husband could care for our child. Our government could similarly fix our revenue problem easily should they care to do so. Instead they prefer to subsidise the wealthy by lowering the standard of living of our most vulnerable.

  23. Anne Byam

    Ref : ” Maurice Newman, the prime minister’s business adviser, has called for a government-funded review of the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) to “dispel suspicions of a warming bias” in its temperature record-keeping. ”

    I did read about this from links in Facebook. Here is just one …. if anyone wants to read the Guardian’s report on it.


    If EVER there was anything to UNDERSCORE the lengths this wicked Government will go to, to have their own way – no matter what it costs anyone or anything …. it is this bit of news.

    Nothing is too gross for them …. to try and justify their ‘ no such thing as climate change ‘ policies – even in the face of most all other countries adopting rational and inventive ways to reduce the effects of carbon emissions and other nasties that contribute to climate change.

    This absolutely floored me. ….. this government is not only inept, inconsistent, war mongering, fear mongering monsters – they have now stepped into full-on paranoia.

    THE most DANGEROUS mob, to have ever inhabited, let alone allegedly ‘lead’ … our country.

    Enough is enough.

  24. Ricardo29

    I equate Newmans claims about the BOM with the story from the Wyoming Institute of Technology, that solar panels suck up the sun’s energy and if we have too many (solar panels) the sun could die in three or four hundred years. Nutters all.

  25. trevor

    Howard Government and this Abbott rabble and corporate Australia shows the world just how corrupted the Australian Government is. Not since the AWB affair has the Australian Business elite attempted so blatantly to publicly dictate the business of the Parliament. Between Credlin with her Burka mission and F*cktard Newman and his flat earth hypocracy, there appears no end to the “low acts” thought up in Abbott’s offices to derail multicultural modern Australia. That this clown Newman even gets media space is ludicrous and shows that the business of Governing Australia eludes this Abbott Rabble with his Liarbril’s masquerading as MP’ as they gouge the public purse of MP Entitlements. This masquerading Government of Leaners and Entitlement gougers set out to Lie the way to Power and now having gained this poisoned chalice they are unable and unwilling to change the modus operandi that bought them the Treasury bench. Instead they run an undeclared war of attrition on the workers of a once proud country. Not content is Abbott with undeclared war of attrition, he now engenders a foul cultural war to further imperil the cultural fabric of Multi-ethnic modern Australia for his base political purposes. Abbott and his rabble of masqueraders care not the harm they bring as it is all part of the score they are keeping and score they are settling. From battlelines to war mongering PM. Abbott just can’t help himself as he smiles when issues of division are his media point, and barely a note of opposition from Bill the dill.. Sack Abbott and his rabble or continue to be sacked by this illegal government of corporate Leaners entitlement gougers.

  26. townsvilleblog

    The tory governments hate the working class, always have and always will. There is no surprise in what they are doing to me. This IS their policies, vote them out or suffer the consequences.

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