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Principles, Alan Jones And Why People Named Rossleigh Should Pay No Tax At All!

Every now and then we have some journalist telling us that the current generation is functionally illiterate because some young person mis-spelled “manoeuvre”, while ignoring the vast number of mistakes in the mainstream media. (One of my favourtes was when Channel 10 posted underneath a photo of Brad Haddin, alleging that he was Australia’s “wicked keeper”… Mm, perhaps they may be on to something!)

However, it’s people’s lack of a basic education in legal and economic principles that most concerns me.

For example, yesterday morning, I read this piece of nonsense in “The Age”:

“Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority head Ben McDevitt says he is very confident that Essendon players received banned drugs in an 2012 injection program, despite a tribunal finding to the contrary.”

I wish to emphasise that I’m making no judgement about the guilt or innocence of anyone here, but there was no “finding to the contrary”. The tribunal simply found that there wasn’t enough evidence for a finding of guilty.

And that’s the way the law works. When you’re found “Not guilty”, it doesn’t mean that you’re found innocent or exonerated, it simply means that there is insufficient evidence to condemn you as guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

So when Mr. Smedley is found, naked and drunk, in an illegal brothel and he claims that he was a little confused and he thought he was in the doctor’s office for a medical exam, we may doubt his story, but the job of the prosecution is to prove that his version of events doesn’t stack up. At the end of the trial, he won’t be found “innocent”, it may just be that the court decideds there isn’t enough evidence to convict him. And you can be pretty sure that after the verdict, his wife won’t be saying, “How could I ever have doubted you, I’m so sorry!”

But now that the AFL tribunal has delivered the verdict, the letters section was filled with letters asserting that this proved that people had done “nothing wrong” and that the investigation was completely unnecessary and certain people in the media owed certain people a large apology.

And then, of course, we have Mr Palmer suing his ex-PUPpets. According to the lawyer, they’ll be sued under the principle of promissory estoppel, which I find rather interesting.

Now, let’s for a moment consider what a Senator is elected to do – at least in theory. Senators are elected to represent their state. They make certain statements to the electorate and the various states elect the senators that they feel will best respresent them. While parites may support them, or donors may back them, their first duty is, of course, to the state they represent.

All right, we know that it doesn’t work in practice quite like that, but I think we can all agree that if any politician came out and actually said that they knew that this would hurt their electorate, but one of their biggest donors is for it, so their electorate can get stuffed, they’d receive a backlash at the ballot box.

So what is the principle of “promissory estoppel” under which Palmer intends to sue. Well, basically it works like this: A person makes a promise, the person to whom the promise is made then makes certain decisions based on the reasonable expectation that the promise will be kept, and, when the promise is not kept, the promisee suffers some form of economic loss. In other words, you promise me that you’ll supply me with building materials. I enter into a contract to build a house for someone else and then you tell me that you’ve changed your mind in spite of our handshake deal because you’ve found that you can get a better price, so I sue you for the lost revenue on my building of the house.

It seems to me problematic for Mr Palmer to argue that he has suffered some form of economic loss because the senators left the Palmer United Party. The money spent getting them elected has already been spent. If they suddenly rejoined the Party, then neither Mr Palmer nor his party would receive any of those funds back. So essentially Palmer’s lawyers will be arguing that their first duty is not to the electorate they serve, but to the people who financed their campaigns – in this case, the Palmer United Party – because of their “promise” to be PUPs in the Senate.

If this was successful, the ramifications of anyone making any policital donation could be huge. “I donated twenty dollars to your campaign under the believe that you were going to lower my taxes because of your promise to do that, now I’m joining in a class action because, well, I spent the money at Harvey Norman on interest free terms!”

And, of course, Mr Palmer’s lawyers need to be careful that they don’t suggest that Mr Palmer expected some future economic benefit from having senators from his party in the Senate, because surely he would expect them to make up their mind on the merits of each piece of legislation and how it affected their state, because to have a party telling people to vote against the interests of the people who elected them, well, that’d just be wrong, wouldn’t it?

And speaking of parties telling people what to do – or just plain wrong – most of you probably read about Alan Jones’ little rant on what Abbott should do:

  • a judicial inquiry into ASADA, the AFL, NRL and the Gillard government
  • a “drought tax”, like the Queensland flood levy introduced by the Labor government, to help farmers in NSW and Queensland;
  • taxing everyone over 65 at only 15 cents in the dollar to encourage older people to stay in the workforce
  • taking away the entitlements of former prime ministers Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard because of their “wrecking of the economy”.

Which gets back to my point about a basic education on how the legal system works. His first point, I could dismiss with “oh no, not another inquiry”, but as I pointed out at the beginning, the fact that the Essendon players weren’t found guilty, doesn’t mean that there was nothing to investigate. And while it may be worthwhile to look at ASADA and its operations, the linking to the Gillard government makes me wonder whether Jones is suggesting to Abbott that another witch hunt is necessary, because none of the other inquiries have damaged Labor enough.

Similarly, his final point about stripping Rudd and Gillard of their entitlements has two probablems. The first is that it’s an oxymoron. If they’re “entitlements”, then people are entitled to them and one can’t strip them away. But, more seriously, where would you stop if you decided to do something like this to ex-PMs? Without entering into the rather spurious argument that Rudd and Gillard wrecked the economy – when I last looked we still had an “economy” so it clearly hasn’t been “wrecked” – could Parliaments start stripping politicians of their entitlements because they introduced legislation that they didn’t like, or didn’t reduce the Budget deficit by as much as promised?

However, it’s the second and third point that reveal most about Alan Jones. Why only to help farmers in NSW and Queensland? Aren’t there farmers in other states suffering hard times? Oh, that’s right. NSW and Queensland are Alan Jones’ audience.

And while I’m wondering about naked self-interest…

Why tax everyone over 65 at only 15 cents in the dollar? Wouldn’t that include people who could clearly afford to pay the tax? People who were earning millions as a radio shock jock for example…

And I’m still to have someone explain to me why, with such high unemployment, we’re trying to encourage older people to stay in the workforce longer. Yes, I understand that we need to plan for the future, and a few years from now, there won’t be enough younger workers to sustain all the older pensioners. But surely we should be trying to get younger people into the workforce now, so that they could earning and building up superannuation, so that they have less need for the pension when they’re older. And, in some cases, when you encourage older people to stay in the workforce, you’re depriving a younger person of a job.

But hey, I’m not an economic genius like the Liberals. The rises in the superannuation guarantee were first stopped by Howard. They’ve been stopped again by the current mob. Now, we’re hearing that we need to be putting away more for retirement, so that we’re not reliant on the pension. Perhaps, I’m missing something, but it seems to me that increasing the superannuation guarantee would be a way of doing just that.

Still maybe Jones is onto something. He should be paying fifteen cents in the dollar… Just to keep him in the workforce, not to add to his wealth… And I should be paying no tax at all, just because… well, it’d give me more money and I’d spend it and stimulate the economy and provide jobs, and that’s the only reason, I don’t just say it because it’d allow me to buy more stuff…

Ah, as Jack Lang (NSW Premier during the Depression) supposedly said: “Always back the horse named self-interest, son. At least you know it’s trying.”



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  1. jagman48

    Alan Jones frustrates me so much. He seems to have more words to say in an interview than the interviewer. And the vitriolic way he says it, frothing at the mouth like an idiot on ice.

  2. townsvilleblog

    People over 65 continue to pay GST until the day that they die, thanks to the Howard LNP government. Jones is a right wing lunatic in my humble opinion.

  3. John Fraser


    You're safe Rossleigh.

    I won't be suing you for promissory estoppel.

    I consider I have received a good return, by reading your Article, on the money I spent on solar power that is currently running my pc.

  4. Kyran

    Thank you for that. Without wishing to rain on your parade, though, didn’t Palmer use the money of one of his Chinese investor ‘friends’ to fund the campaign? I am sure it is still being litigated. It is a much funnier scenario – Palmer is suing ex candidates for money he can’t get back and wasn’t his in the first place!
    Great read, take care

  5. diannaart

    Everyone pays tax – via GST – yet complaints are constantly made that people on benefits somehow get off tax-free. Also conservatives wouldn’t be ‘doing their job’ if they didn’t throw in some kind of attack on Labor, Gillard, Rudd – that there never was a great great big budget black hole doesn’t matter – just keep repeating “Labor’s mess”, saves giving any careful thought into policy bubbles.

    As for the big Pup suing his errant senators – he does not know what else to do – this is Clive Palmer, he is very rich and always gets his way. I doubt that Jackie et al, will ever be repaying these millions – but Clive must be Clive.

    As for the future, there will be many more older folk – some will be able and willing to continue to work and some won’t – just like today.

    If the LNP could countenance investment into sustainable infrastructure there would be plenty of jobs; jobs that would actually relate to needs now and onwards to future developments in technology. But that means not paying the piper – AKA vested mining and other assorted excessively rich dinosaurs. Neo-cons hate change when applied to themselves. However, the great unwashed are expected to adjust to any thought-bubble spewed up by people who keep their money on that dark horse; self-interest.

    Thanks Rossleigh, I needed that.

  6. CMMC

    Palmer managed to get Glenn Lazarus to launch a Senate enquiry into a QLD government that affected Palmer’s coal interests.

  7. Jexpat

    My first question on hearing of Palmers suit was: “how can he reasonably assume (or reasonably rely on) that representatives elected under his party’s auspice would remain with the party?”

    Palmer’s own nasty conduct toward at least one of the two notwithstanding, Australian history is replete with representatives voluntarily leaving their parties for any number of reasons. In this case, it looks like Clive expecting (or demanding) loyalty because he’s Clive, as opposed to thinking like an ordinary, reasonable person would in the situation.

  8. David

    I laughed and laughed and then laughed some more. Just what I needed to clear the bronchial tubes which have been given me hell last few days..don’t smoke!! gave up 9 yrs ago, bit too late but we battle on… anyway back to laughter. Jones wants Abbott, that’s Abbott the Oxford Blue in boxing and as he would have us believe economics (documented proof of which is impossible to find) that very same Abbott who has presided over the biggest economic train wreck the country has witnessed in decades, a country hovering on a disaster and Loo Jones wants him to have an inquiry into Rudd/Gillard handling of the economy under their stewardship.
    That was the cause for the laughter, the suggestion is so absurd it belongs in a comedy routine

  9. Phi

    The Jack Lang comment (supposed) made me chuckle.

    Conversations with friends in the pub and in other places invariably finish with something like this “Well, I’m buggered if I know where the hell this country’s going, it’s a bloody shambles everywhere you look, so what the hell is the government doing other than getting us into a frigging mess. They’ve got no idea of what to do, so they just attack pensioners, welfare and students.”

  10. Barry Thompson.

    Those disinfectant blocks in public toilet urinals must affect the brain!

  11. stephentardrew

    Jones just addles my brain with so much paradoxical and incoherent nonsense devoid of any logic or empirical facts.

    The guy is a raving loon amongst raving loons and yes Barry this lot have a substantially greater effect than those disinfectant blocks.

    Methinks that maybe Jones has been sucking on a few too many.

  12. Bronte ALLAN

    SACK ALAN JONES! He is nothing but a trumped, up self satisfying, blow hard, who has nothing better to do in his life but to continue to “try”to “punish” or chastise both Julia Gillard & Kevin Rudd! Alright, maybe they both (maybe more so Rudd than Gillard) have sort of stuffed up in trying to do what they were elected to do, but to keep on & on & on about it just stupidty! They were beaten at the least federal election by Jone’s “best” mate Abbott, so what is he complaining about? Get a life Jones, if that is at all possible! Maybe he should be put in a hessian bag & taken out to sea & dropped overboard–after all, he thought this was ok when he “wished’ Gillard could be so treated! The whole of the liberal party should be sacked, after all, I think almost all of their “prominent” Ministers etc, have (& still do) tell one lie after another, ALL they want to do is tax the working class, the persons on Welfare, low paid workers etc so that ALL their wealthy “mates” can pay even less taxes than they do now! What about the Treasury trying to get all overseas owned corporations here in OZ to pay the tax rate they SHOULD? Also all these wealthy families & “trusts” etc who use off-shore accounts etc to minimise paying the taxes at the rate we “ordinary” folk have to pay, be investigated, & made to pay the same sorts of tax rate as we do?

  13. gangey1959

    Sorry Rossleigh.
    I’m afraid that I’m going to follow Clive’s lead, and see how I go taking YOU to court.
    I like to read your columns for the humorous way you impart the truth. This time you failed miserably.
    Therefore, once I have found the right college through which to do an online mature age law degree, worked out how to pay my fair share of the costs, enrolled, done my 4 years plus of study, and if all goes according to plan, passed, you and I have a date with destiny.
    Meanwhile, back here on Earth.
    I don’t have a lot of time for America. BUT. They do allow people to shoot one another. Only when they thoroughly deserve it, like when they live in Ferguson, or are otherwise NQU, but you get my point.
    Can we just make a rule that AJ is NQU. He is just a dickhead, and in reality not worth the expense of a bullet, but hell, do it anyway. (Mr Bolt while we are at it, because I’m sure he will want his share of the limelight for the sake of opening his mouth.)
    AJ’s list. Let’s start at the beginning.
    Its only got 4 things on it because he sucks his thumb whilst he “thinks”, and he has to count with the first finger on his other hand.
    1) A judicial inquiry into ASADA, the AFL, NRL and the Gillard government. Why stop there? Tones will shit-can any verdicts he doesn’t agree with anyway, so let’s just inquire into everything all together at the same time.
    2) A “drought tax”, like the Queensland flood levy introduced by the Labor government, to help farmers in NSW and Queensland. Obviously droughts stop at the Murray River. And I thought that the Labor Govt didn’t do anything right.
    3) Taxing everyone over 65 at only 15 cents in the dollar to encourage older people to stay in the workforce. Great idea. If we can get 15% out of Rupert, Gina, Clive, Twiggy, and all of the other mega dollar over 65’s I don’t think my 83 year old mum will object too much to paying what she pays out of what her super gives her from her years of teaching. I won’t bitch when I get to 65 either. I promise.
    4) Taking away the entitlements of former prime ministers Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard because of their “wrecking of the economy”. Go for it. I mean their ‘Insulation Scheme’ employed heaps of people. It was a shame that 4 died because they hadn’t read (couldn’t maybe) ‘wiring a plug 101′ and so the whole scheme was bogus and a rip-off, but as old Ned said, “Such is life”.
    However, again I say, Why stop with them? What would happen to our economy if the entitlements of all politicians were examined as to whether they were deserved or not.
    This being the 100th anniversary of Gallipli and the formation of the combined ANZAC forces, maybe the lost lives of our servicemen in Afghanistan and the Middle East since 2001 should have the rerelevant Prime Ministers’ entitlements removed entirely.
    Maybe they should ALL just be looked after as per their years or service, not for life. Ten years in office equals ten years of entitlements.
    That way at least we might get a little bit more from our elected officials.
    That’s it from me for now.
    Have a fun Easter.
    Don’t eat too much chocolate.

  14. Jexpat


    Apparently, you failed to read the article you cited.

    Pru Goward’s behaviour correctly drew a reprimand from the Bar, but not for the reasons you assert.

  15. lawrencewinder

    Can’t someone find a toilet for Jones to stalk in?

  16. alancharlton

    The SMHpiece should have read “in a 2012” no “in an 2012”

  17. alancharlton

    In regards to Liberal Party Commentator Alan Jones. I applauded his criticism of Sir Anthony Abbott (I brought forward next years Knighthood nominations) but it seems he has gone back to claiming he is an independant political commentator and making mentally impaired statements against the Labor Party. While there is much wrong with the Labor Party, Tony Abbotts leadership of The Tea Party (Liberal) & most of its’ policies will drive the $ down too far, initially causing interest rates also to fall, while property & unemployment continue to rise & imports skyrocket, causing interest fates to rise rapidly in a failed bidvto head off inflation

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