The Hidden Wealth Of Nations: The Scourge Of Tax Havens Gabriel Zucman University of Chicago Press 2015, 129 pages Criminal heists do not come any bigger than the global theft every year by the ultra-rich of about US$200 billion courtesy of the off-shore tax haven banking industry. The Panama Papers has grabbed headlines, but in The Hidden Wealth of Nations, Gabriel Zucman, economics professor at the London School of Economics and Political Science, also takes a close look at the famous tax-evading practices in Switzerland.
Sometimes there are things that appear in the media that just make you shake your head in disbelief. Take for example the tale of Duncan Storrar, the man on ABC's Q&A who dared to ask why the budget was looking after higher income earners while ignoring those on the lower end of the scale. For his trouble, Storrar was mercilessly attacked by sections of the media for everything from his tax record to his criminal history — all because he publicly dared to question the economic orthodoxy of the federal budget.
On May 16, students gathered outside the at Wesley College gate with their mouths taped shut, demanding the names of the editors of the 2014 Wesley Journal which included a page called the “Rackweb”.
The Australia First Party will not be able to use the Eureka flag as its logo on ballot papers in the federal election on July 2. Their application was ineligible because it had not been advertised for 30 days as required by law. However, the application will be considered again in 100 days' time, well after voters head to the ballot box.
The odious Peter Dutton, minister for torturing refugees, has plumbed new depths in responding to a Greens proposal to increase Australia's refugee intake from 13,750 to 50,000. "They won't be numerate or literate in their own language, let alone English," Dutton said. "These people would be taking Australian jobs, there's no question about that. "For many of them that would be unemployed, they would languish in unemployment queues and on Medicare and the rest of it so there would be huge cost and there's no sense in sugar-coating that, that's the scenario."
Hundreds of nurses from the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association protested outside health minister Jillian Skinner's electorate office on May 17.
A multi-generational delegation from the Borroloola Aboriginal community in the Northern Territory's Gulf Country were front and centre at a protest outside global mining giant Glencore's Sydney headquarters on May 19. The protesters demanded that Glencore close its McArthur River mine and rehabilitate the site as well as the river and the surrounding land, on which they have traditionally relied for food.
Sydney University campus came alive with political discussion, talks and workshops for three days during the Socialism for the 21st Century Conference, held over May 13–15. The conference had more than 30 sessions and 50 speakers, including international special guests Marta Harnecker, Michael Lebowitz and Ian Angus. Local and international activists shared their experiences of struggle and discussed the necessity of building alternatives to capitalism today. Up to 400 conference-goers faced the task of choosing from a range of stimulating sessions on offer.
About 3000 people, young and old, women, men and children, kayaked from Horseshoe Beach and blocked Newcastle Harbour to stop the coal ships on May 8. Organised by 350.org and other climate change campaigners, the Break Free event was a great success and also fun. There was a large contingent of First Nations people from all around Australia and internationally, from Samoa and other Pacific islands that could disappear due to rising sea levels.
The Coalition government’s arts funding cuts have deepened in a confused, inconsistent fashion that has only added to the sector’s turmoil. The Australia Council for the Arts has told 62 small-to-medium-sized arts companies and organisations that their applications for grants for the next four years have been rejected. Yet more than 40 new organisations have been given grants.
Heavily armed “anti-terrorist” police raided homes in Melbourne and arrested a teenager in Sydney on May 17. This foiled two unrelated terror plots, according to saturation media coverage based on information from police and security agencies that is too secret to be heard in court. In Sydney, 18-year-old Tamim Khaja was arrested in Parramatta and charged with planning a terrorist attack and preparing for “foreign incursions”.
Duncan Storrar, the man who dared to ask a question about tax thresholds on ABC TV's Q & A program on May 9, has thanked Australians for their support and criticised the Murdoch press after he was villified in News Corp newspapers the following week. A GoFundMe crowdfunding campaign in the following days raised more than $60,000 for Storrar, after he questioned the Coalition government's tax policy, introducing himself as someone with a "disability and a low education".