Tasmanian Times

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Economy

NATION: The Hole in Malcolm’s argument …

*Pic: PM Turnbull … Sweet Custard Bun, as our dragon-bone divinating PM is known in China … very little yet to suggest that the Sweet Custard Bun is any more nourishing or sustaining to a nation hungry for real leadership in a time of critical international and domestic challenges than his predecessor the junkyard dog …

The Week …

National Anti-Poverty Week sees the richest PM in Australian history explaining his investments while his predecessor is stressing now that his salary has been cruelly slashed from $539,338 to just $200k.

How will poor Tony ever meet the mortgage payments on his Forestville home? Retirement is out of the question; it would only bring him $307,542 for life. Perhaps his ‘mate’ Malcolm, lustily singing his praises as our deliverer to NSW Liberals and to the House only recently, could help out. PM number 29, aka that smartarse millionaire bastard, Turnbull, certainly has all the answers.

Turnbull defends his own use of Cayman Islands’ Ugland House, a five-storeyed office building in George Town, Great Cayman, the registered address of several of his family investment trusts. Others do it, he says, even Shorten’s unions. 18,856 other businesses and funds, in fact, use the address. That’s enough to confuse any postie. Or, as Barack Obama said in 2008, ‘that must be one big building. Or one big scam’.

Of course, The Toff huffs loftily, it’s all legitimate. An honest to goodness, true-blue, Cayman’s fund, the PM assures the House, helps the Turnbulls to pay tax in Australia. He keeps a straight face while skewering Labor. It is sophistry they won’t hear from any other PM. Or want to. A civilised society works only if members who enjoy its benefits are also prepared to pay their share of the costs. It may help if you keep a few lawyers out of politics, too. Lower the bunkum level.

Rather than being a way of paying no or very little tax, their raison d’être and their irresistible appeal to vulture fund operators, the PM’s Cayman accounts help him pay tax. He says. A sceptical ATO, on the one hand, has previously pointed to US investors keeping money offshore indefinitely. Australian investors may do the same.

Turnbull does not divulge his rate of tax, be it zero, five, ten or twenty percent. Nor do we have any means of finding out, a situation which fuels speculation, perhaps none so bizarrely figurative as touring comedian Russell Brand who protests,

‘having your money in the Cayman Islands is like putting your dick into custard. We all want to do it, but there’s no rational reason to do it. If your dick’s in a bowl of custard you’re doing it for a reason.’

Caymans’ laws prevent even the ATO from finding out what tax whack Mal, who is also known as Tang Bao in China or ‘sweet custard bun’, is paying.’ Our own secrecy laws prohibit ATO officers divulging clients’ tax details. Quixotic Sam Dastyari and other ‘class envy party’ members risk looking impertinent, personal or just plain naff as they challenge Turnbull’s use of managed funds domiciled in a place called home by tax evaders, rock iguanas and red-footed boobies.

… if their use is appropriate …

Dastyari knows that Cayman Island tax havens are legal but this does not prevent the PM or members of his media claque from repeating this irrelevance. Sam wants to know if their use is appropriate for a PM whose government promises to pursue companies ‘off-shoring’ or using tax havens to reduce their tax liabilities. Dastyari, alleges a conflict of interest at least if not the abuse of privilege and that by resorting to such elite services, Turnbull fails to lead by example.

Exclusive funds in the Turnbull portfolio such as the Zebedee Growth Fund, the Bowery Opportunity Fund and the 3G Natural Resources Offshore Fund are only for the well-heeled. Mum and Dad investors, don’t try this at home. They require a one million minimum investment from clients but can return them 20 per cent per annum.

Bowery, which targets distressed and bankrupt companies, boasts 21 per cent since 2009. The PM could invest $539,338 or just a year of his salary at this rate today and ten years later he would have roughly 3.5 million.

Turnbull personally has as much right as any other Australian to seek high returns, but as PM he should be leading the charge to unwind ‘off-shoring’. The PM is no ordinary investor. The Caymans are not ‘bog-standard’ investment houses, despite his protestations that even Aussie Super uses them. He deflects the Labor attack, however, like the barrister he was.

Turnbull accuses Labor of a personal smear campaign inspired by the politics of envy. On this front, he declares, wearily that his wealth is no secret. Nor is his ‘success’. Luck and virtuous hard work have made him a fortune. He bears it well.

… dismisses out of hand …

‘The fact is that Lucy and I have been very fortunate in our lives. We have more wealth than most Australians, that is true. We’ve worked hard, we’ve paid our taxes, we’ve given back.’ The model taxpayer then dismisses out of hand all suggestion that he might disclose further tax details.

It is inconceivable, he implies, that his riches could ever cloud his judgement, impair his perspective or that his path to a Caymans account or three have been anything but virtuous even if those thousands of ordinary Australians who lost their savings in the collapse of HIH after it paid too much in its takeover of FAI might tell a different story. Of course he knows how ordinary Australians live. He uses public transport. Why, his friends include some … quite ordinary people.

In 1998,Turnbull, then chairman of Goldman Sachs Australia advised FAI Insurance on a $300 million takeover bid by HIH. The bank’s role and the advice it gave to FAI were key themes in a 2002 Royal Commission which failed to nail any wrong-doing although this did not prevent the HIH liquidator Tony McGrath, of McGrath Nicol & Partners from bringing his own legal action. In 2009, a confidential settlement by his former employer, spared Turnbull from appearing in court as a defendant in a private $450+ million lawsuit.

Nothing to see here, Turnbull reminds the House, he has no say in investment decisions made by his funds. Putting your wealth into blind trusts, where it may be invested in anything, anywhere, he makes appear responsible, ethical, the only proper course of action.

Turnbull’s example will doubtless inspire the 1 million to 1.5 million ordinary Australians who live in poverty, based on their access to necessary goods and services and social exclusion measures. The figure may be higher. The Australian Council of Social Service estimates that 2.55 million Australians live below the poverty line. These include 55 per cent of Newstart recipients. Even the Business Council of Australia wants to raise Newstart. But not a peep from Bun’s government, however, just a steely resolve to serve the interests of the rich.

The Turnbull government marks anti-poverty week by repealing a Labor measure that required private firms with revenue over $100 million a year to disclose their tax details. ‘The changes will restore the long-held general principle of fundamental rights of taxpayers’ privacy, including for Australian-owned private companies,’ inquiry chair and Liberal senator Sean Edwards says in his report, while Josh Frydenberg sees it as protective, claiming business owners fear publication could increase the risk of their being kidnapped and held for ransom. Doubtless Ugland House fund operators applaud his logic and would use his case themselves if they could get away with it.

… one per cent … now owns fifty percent of its wealth …

The euphonious Ugland House is also financial home to another endangered species, a tiny mob of investors, pure as the driven snow, who, like our PM, are ‘lucky’ enough to rank amongst the one per cent of the world which now owns fifty percent of its wealth as Credit Suisse reports recently. And that one per cent may be declining. Surely, we must do all we can to protect this tiny minority. Certainly Greg Hunt, aka Hunt Greg for his recent backflip over renewables to suit his new boss, is helping us all to do our best.

Environment Minister Hunt is seen to press his lips to a violet-scented Turnbull ear-lobe before slipping out of question time under cover of Thursday’s fat-cat-calling. His government’s steamy, coal-seamy affair with Adani demands his personal attention. Minutes later, Hunt’s office announces Carmichael mine may go ahead.

It’s good news for cash-strapped international entrepreneurs, the Adani brothers, one of whom, at last count was down to his last 7 billion and whose shares are trading lower than the belly of an ornamental snake. Now, if only a bank will lend them some money, they will be able to go ahead with Australia’s biggest coal mine, and the coalition’s biggest economic and environmental disaster. If only one of the 14 major banks which have turned them down would ignore the inconvenient truth.

Our ‘agile’ 21st century government, naturally, prefers a different view. The Adani Carmichael mine, we are told, will produce only artisanal, hand-crafted ‘clean coal’, carried by reef-friendly, accident-proof ships with highly-paid, well-trained local Australian crews with the navigation system of a Mars landing. Nothing bad could possibly happen to the water table or the ecosystem of any living creature. Adani will bust a gut to pay loads of tax, as only a multi-national corporation can.

Unlike any other open-cut mine in history, Adani will be a big employer. Huge. Created will be at least one 21st century job for every Australian for life. All we need to do is help fund a proposed 16 billion coal-dedicated railway between Galilee Basin and Abbott Point’s expanded port facility, which is set to become the biggest coal terminal in the world, a nifty bit of engineering which Aussie battler Gina Rinehart and other ‘lifters’ diligently ‘growing the economy’ may also be able to use in a serendipitous stroke of pure good fortune on top of the billions of government subsidy we foist upon her.

… ‘it’s not a priority …

But let’s not get too far down the track. Boyish Josh Frydenberg, Minister for resources, energy and Northern Australia and protecting corporate bosses from kidnap, is busting to take his new portfolio out for a spin, is a bit too quick off the blocks. Giving the rail an OK before Mal’s OK leads to a carpeting from his boss. Now Josh says – ‘just joshing – ‘it’s not a priority’, meaning we will pay for the rail when the fuss has died down a bit or the next Federal election is closer.

Dipping into the Northern Australia Infrastructure fund to turn may allow coalition fiscal wizards to misappropriate enough to enable the Adanis to build an unusable, ecologically irresponsible coal mine which no-one wants or needs and that neither the current market nor any future can bear in an industry which Goldman Sachs and others say is in structural decline. At worst it will be moth-balled immediately.

‘Hunt’s hole’, as it will be known, will however, serve as his government’s most fitting monument. A vast, useless pit, measuring 247,000 square kilometres and visible from space, it will warn even extra-terrestrials of the suicidal madness which seized the Neo-Cons of Oz, a maniacal abdication of reason more akin to nineteenth century Polynesian cargo cults than to any 21st century government with the very best available science and technology.

If only our Easter Island leaders had taken heed. For those future politicians with macro-economic perspectives this is what a stranded asset looks like. For the rest of us a caution. Money talks. Unfortunately. But when money is doing all the talking, woe betide the rest of us.

Guardian: Josh Frydenberg puts ‘strong moral case’ for coal exports to prevent deaths

SMH: Fairfax-Ipsos poll shows dark days for Labor as Coalition surges under Malcolm Turnbull

Adam Bandt, Peter Whish-Wilson: Big banks winners from government Financial System Inquiry response

• Use the TT NEWS dropdown menu (top Nav Bar) for breaking news/comment on the financial system inquiry …

David Wroe, The Age: Yes, terrorism in Australia is horrible. But we also need to talk about the threat of war with China

David Wroe, The Age: Malcolm Turnbull an ally on climate action, says French ambassador

SMH: Goodbye Joe …

Andrew Wilkie: A statement on the China Free Trade Agreement I support free trade and I support a free trade agreement with China. But the bill that passed the House of Representatives today is flawed. Instead of rolling over to get its tummy tickled, the Labor Party should have pushed the Government harder to remedy the deficiencies. I was pleased to support the Greens’ amendments that would have tightened labour market testing.

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17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. Basil Fitch

    October 21, 2015 at 3:47 pm

    I thought No.6 had ‘fell off the perch’!

    Actually, I have only ever placed Morgan Poll updates on TT, however they fall. Basil

  2. Robin Charles Halton

    October 21, 2015 at 9:31 am

    Trade Union activity in Tasmania is on the nose as bribery allegations involving the removal of $7000 from a union safe against former Union heavy weight Kevin Harkins is now being contested in court.

    Unions are the dirty word Australia wide, members are being fleeced by corrupt and uncontrolled actions of union officials (in my opinion)

    The Labor Party can expect poor followings in the polls unless they can find new directions distinct from those of the union movement.

    Labor needs to engage with professional bodies with more standing in the community if they want to regain any ground in this country.

    Shorten is probably a doomed individual as the Federal case against union corruption digs deeper and deeper finding more and more evidence being destroyed at the point of request by Justice Dyson.

    The Turnbull government as was the Abbott government on the right path to continue with the Unions investigations to clear up all manner of operating and accountability to members and the Australian public.

  3. Robin Charles Halton

    October 20, 2015 at 11:22 pm

    PM Turnbull is ready to tackle the unions Industrial Relations control of $10M of members Super contributions.

    The government wants to ensure workers have a choice therefore competition in the Superannuation industry funds of choice.

    There is a push to ensure all financial advisors have University qualifications as a part of better regulation of the Superannuation industry.

    Labors union affiliations are being tested to the limit at present as to whether or not Labor leader Bill Shorten is clean or not with wide spread rorting of members funds as we have seen with deals done with John Holland where the evidence was destroyed days before the Royal Commission requested it to be presented.

    We also have the spectacular attempt by Lawler to prove his innocence as a heavy of the Fair Work Commission and his female partner Kathy Jackson who has been ordered to repay the HSU $1.4M of monies she spent for private use on holidays and Mortage payments.

    Shorten as leader of the Opposition’ future and that of the operations of Trade Unions is becoming under the ever watchful eye of Justice Dyson leading the Unions investigation.

    I would forecast once the entire business of covert operations of the union movement, Labor as a political party should carefully re consider its position with union affiliates becoming party members, Shorten may end up being one of those.

  4. Lynne Newington

    October 20, 2015 at 8:33 pm

    #Basil a great analysis thanks..
    I’m not surprised with the ALP’s 18-24yr olds, it’s a pretty vulnerable age group and the union can be of great assistance when employment issues arise, especially if new to the work force
    I have to admit they certainly helped a young family member deal with a dreadful situation with a government traineeship having been taken advantage of by the employer, never forgotten and been a loyal ALP member ever since.

  5. Basil Fitch

    October 20, 2015 at 2:24 pm

    Latest Morgan Poll:- L-NP 56%,ALP 44%, Greens 15.5%,…

    “In mid-October, in the third Morgan Poll since Malcolm Turnbull became Prime Minister, L-NP support is 56% (unchanged) cf. ALP 44% (unchanged) on a two-party preferred basis. If a Federal Election were held now the L-NP would win easily.
    Primary support for the L-NP fell 0.5% to 46.5% while ALP support was unchanged at 27.5% (the equal lowest ALP primary support for more than three years since May 2012).

    Support for the Greens rose to 15.5% (up 1.5%) while Katter’s Australian Party is 1.5% (unchanged), Palmer United Party is at a record low 0.5% (down 1%), while Independents/ Others are at 8.5% (unchanged).

    This week’s Morgan Poll on Federal voting intention was conducted over the last two weekends, October 10/11 & 17/18, 2015, with an Australia-wide cross-section of 3,052 Australian electors.

    Roy Morgan Government Confidence Rating

    The Roy Morgan Government Confidence Rating rose again this week to 112 (up 3pts to the highest rating since November 30/ December 1, 2013) with 47% (up 1.5%) of Australians saying Australia is ‘heading in the right direction’ and 35% (down 1.5%) saying Australia is ‘heading in the wrong direction’.

    Analysis by Gender

    Analysis by Gender shows a majority of both genders supporting the L-NP. Men: L-NP 60% (up 1.5%) cf. ALP 40% (down 1.5%); Women: L-NP 52% (down 2%) cf. ALP 48% (up 2%).

    Analysis by Age group

    Analysis by Age group shows that Turnbull’s biggest problem is convincing younger voters to support the L-NP. The ALP leads with 18-24yr olds: ALP 51.5% cf. L- NP 48.5% and leads the L-NP amongst 25-34yr olds: ALP 51.5% cf. L-NP 48.5%. However, the L-NP leads comfortably with all older age groups: 35-49yr olds favour the L-NP 55% cf. ALP 45% while 50-64yr olds favour the L-NP 55.5% cf. ALP 44.5% and those aged 65+ easily favour the L-NP 66% cf. ALP 34%.

    Analysis by States

    The L-NP now has a two-party preferred lead in all Australian States. West Australia: L-NP 60% cf. ALP 40%, New South Wales: L-NP 59% cf. ALP 41%, Queensland: LNP 58% cf. ALP 42%, South Australia: L-NP 53.5% cf. ALP 46.5%, Tasmania: L-NP 52.5% cf. ALP 47.5% and Victoria: L-NP 51.5% cf. ALP 48.5%.

    The Morgan Poll surveys a larger sample (including people who only use a mobile phone) than any other public opinion poll. The Morgan Poll asks Minor Party supporters which way they will vote their preferences. *News Corp’s poll does not measure or reference the PUP vote!

    The Morgan Poll allocated preferences based on how people say they will vote – allocating preferences by how electors voted at the last Federal Election, (as used by News Corp’s Newspoll) shows the L-NP (55%) cf. ALP (45%) – for trends see the Morgan Poll historic data table.”
    Basil

  6. Lynne Newington

    October 19, 2015 at 12:31 pm

    #Steve, your summary is a fair statement and anyone serious would have to appreciate the talents he has in enriching the country and gain us some respectability.

    He has Arthur Sinodinos on his team, a smart cookie in his own right and wouldn’t have been chosen to run the Mary McKillop Foundation if he wasn’t capable although his name is no longer linked to it. The ICAC investigation did clear him of any impropriety connected to Eddie Obeid [$20 millions worth] but I guess we’ll never fully know the in’s and out’s of that one.

  7. john hayward

    October 19, 2015 at 12:05 pm

    Steve, #7. You might reflect on the fact that Turnbull’s money came largely via the same route that brought us all the GFC.

    Gambling on private banking and hedge funds is not quite the same as running a country for its collective benefit.

    John Hayward

  8. Stephan

    October 19, 2015 at 10:02 am

    Coal (or fossil fuels really) is to our civilisation like nicotine is to the addict.

    We know we’re killing ourselves and yet we continue to smoke the stuff.

    I can give it up any time I feel like it.

    Wanna fag mate? Here ya go.

  9. phill Parsons

    October 19, 2015 at 9:29 am

    68% may not be the peak of Bun’s popularity, he may even be elected PM in his own right but sure as he will become the Emperor parading his new clothes.

    Currently the blackout curtain has been lifted and people are blinded by the light revealed, their heads awash with whole sentences.

    One must also remember simmering on the side is a seething mass of far right ideologues with the tools of the triple by-pass for their boy.

    Bill, who for many years believed that if he donned a cape would be a super-hero able to soar to the dizzying heights of a Labor PM is very likely to find the fall from the roof very painful.

  10. phill Parsons

    October 19, 2015 at 9:21 am

    Frydenberg’s argument is false. For the coal to alleviate the poverty of rural India you will also need to end the caste system, put poles and wires everywhere and end indebtedness to money lenders, crash the climate that drives India’s food production [the monsoon].

    With solar the lives of many can be improved without the humungous centralized energy distribution infrastructure, people will have increased learning opportunities eroding both the caste system and the power of the money lenders and the climate has a chance to regain stability and so reduce the chance of famine.

  11. Steve

    October 19, 2015 at 12:25 am

    Is it just me or are there others who can’t get too stressed about having a PM who’s proven he’s capable of success prior to coming to office?
    Quite frankly I don’t care whether his personal investments sail close to the wind, I’m more concerned whether he’s now prepared to put his talents to work on behalf of Australia, rather than his personal enrichment.

  12. TGC

    October 18, 2015 at 10:18 pm

    Basil Fitch’s analysis of the Age Poll – and others- should make interesting reading.

  13. Mick Kenny

    October 18, 2015 at 3:20 pm

    Is that Malcolm, or a finely crafted wax effigy, pictured above?

  14. Chris

    October 18, 2015 at 2:30 pm

    #2
    This is Fried Hamburger’s argument, which is a direct borrow from the anti climate lobby, they introduced it several months ago.
    Welcome aboard Frydenberg no one can say that you have a mind of your own.

  15. john hayward

    October 18, 2015 at 1:02 pm

    When Malcolm claimed he had parked his money in the Caymans to avoid perceptions of a conflict of interest, I knew he was modelling himself on Michael Rimmer.

    It’s very difficult to become obscenely rich by the same tax rules that most people have to live by. If you want a godzilla of a conflict-of-interest, get into a notorious tax haven while purporting to be a PM for all the mugs back home whom you are feeding austerity.

    John Hayward

  16. Karl Stevens

    October 18, 2015 at 11:52 am

    Josh Frydenberg’s ‘strong moral case’ for exporting coal to India reminds me of Mother Teresa fighting poverty by banning contraceptives.
    According to Frydenbergs Liberals, massive over population in India is now Australia’s problem? Really?
    So is ‘Mother Teresa’ Frydenberg going to donate coal to India?

  17. Stephan

    October 18, 2015 at 9:50 am

    The “art” of politics has always infuriated me. I can never understand why people simply have to attach another.

    Malcolm T would be screwed either way he went in this stupid rich man/poor man debate. So he’s rich, get over it or really, really work towards changing the system so that poor old Joe Public can become PM. That’s screw with the exclusivity club though wouldn’t it?

    If we go to being a republic then it’ll be millionaires and billionaires for PM just as it is in the US so get used to it.

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