taxation

The Australian operations of mining giant Glencore have been implicated in the Paradise Papers revelations – the largest leak of documents in history.

The Paradise Papers show that Glencore was involved in currency swaps of up to $25 billion between the Bermuda-based and Australian-based arms of its company.

While theoretically "legal”, these types of swaps are being investigated by the Australian Tax Office under suspicion they may be used to avoid tax by shuttling interest payments from high-tax nations to low-tax jurisdictions.

Multinational corporations are using tax havens to avoid paying tax and the filthy rich are getting richer. Paradise Papers, Panama Papers, billionaire capers – what’s new? This stuff has been going on for yonks.

Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison has ramped up calls for tax cuts to big business in an October 24 speech to launch the Productivity Commission's latest report.

Morrison claims corporate tax cuts are "an urgent matter" now that conservative governments in the United States, Britain and France are moving to slash big business taxes. Australia risks becoming an "uncompetitive tax island" if it does not follow suit, Morrison claimed.

The neoliberal agenda for the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting in Sydney on July 23 was set by NSW Premier Mike Baird, who proposed increasing the GST from its present 10% to 15%.

Baird wants the extra funds to be primarily used to fund health services, which account for almost 30% of state budgets, including spending on hospitals of about 20%. What he neglected to say was that under his mate Tony Abbott’s federal government, spending has been drastically reduced on health along with education. The total reduction across both areas is about $80 billion.

"The recent campaign by the big mining companies, which brought down PM Kevin Rudd, shows the enormous power of these giant monopolies in our capitalist society”, Socialist Alliance activist Marg Gleeson told a public forum, sponsored by the SA on July 6.

"This two-month campaign of lies and distortions by the mining barons was victorious. It underlines exactly who holds the levers of power in our 'democratic' country."

From the standpoint of conventional political analysis, Julia Gillard has had a spectacular start to her reign as prime minister.

She wrested the position from Kevin Rudd with minimal bloodshed, announced she was going to neutralise the mining tax controversy by negotiating with the mining billionaires and was rewarded with a dramatic turnaround in the opinion polls.

Much of the public discussion on Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s proposed tax reforms — made in response to the Henry tax review — has centred on the projected 40% tax on “super-profits” in the mining industry. Most people probably agree that the big mining multinationals could afford to contribute a lot more to the public purse.

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