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Politics of the first resort

I wish I could say that I find the reaction of this politician surprising.

Google has refused to explain why it paid just $74,176 in Australian tax last year, despite making an estimated $1 billion in revenue from the Australian market.

The opposition communications spokesman, Malcolm Turnbull, said yesterday the growing digital economy was creating headaches for lawmakers. He said corporate giants like Google were able to generate billions in revenue within Australia, ”much of it at the expense of local media outlets”, but pay minimal tax by creating subsidiary offices in low-taxing foreign jurisdictions.

For readers outside Australia note that this is the opposition communications spokesman here – Malcolm Turnbull is a member of, and has even been the leader of, what persists in calling itself the Liberal Party in the absence of any real interest in liberty that I can see. To answer the implied question, it’s called the global marketplace, Malc, and this is no more than an indication that Australia’s tax regime is sadly uncompetitive. Instead of getting your cock in a knot about the relatively small dollar amounts of tax that Google and Facebook pay here why not consider why it is that these companies do not choose to pay the bulk of their tax in Australia. I’m guessing that it’s something to do with them preferring to pay tax at 15% in the Irish Republic than pay at 30% here.

Now it strikes me that we could piss and moan about it, we could talk about changing the tax laws and generally fight like hell to avoid doing anything as simple as matching or beating the Irish on tax rates and the general desirability of running large parts of an international business here. We could do that… Or we could start by just looking at the dollar value Google paid the Irish taxman at Irish rates. Because if it’s more than $74,176 – and I reckon it will be substantially more – it would seem to suggest that you’d get more out of them by making Australia a more tempting place to pay tax than Ireland.

You see, Malc, and it really pains me to have to explain this to a member of a party whose website says (my bold):

We believe…

* In … a lean government that minimises interference in our daily lives; and maximises individual and private sector initiative
* In government that nurtures and encourages its citizens through incentive, rather than putting limits on people through the punishing disincentives of burdensome taxes and the stifling structures of Labor’s corporate state and bureaucratic red tape.
* In … the encouragement and facilitation of wealth so that all may enjoy the highest possible standards of living, health, education and social justice.

In short, we simply believe in individual freedom and free enterprise…

You see, Malcolm, if taxes are a necessary evil then in this modern world where companies can establish their operations wherever it’s most profitable nations are in competition for taxpayers, and the more successful governments in that competition may not be the ones that take the biggest slice of their GDP pie but the ones who realise that a smaller slice of a much larger pie is actually a greater quantity of pie. The Australian Tax Office, and it seems both main parties in Canberra if Malcolm Turnbull’s an indication, are more concerned with the size of the government’s slice than the size of the pie, and as long as that holds I expect Google, Farcebook and others will continue to choose countries such as Ireland as their preferred nations in which to pay much of their taxes.

Not just the UK where the main political parties are largely alike. Why is being competitive the last resort even of a nominally liberal politician?

A little bit of politics?

This is CCTV footage of a man with a fire extinguisher putting out the eternal flame at Melbourne’s Shine of Remembrance at 8:20 yesterday morning, and is being reported by both press and broadcast media as vandalism.

A man who snuffed out the Eternal Flame at the Shrine of Remembrance could face additional penalties under laws designed to give the war memorial special protection from vandals.


A HEARTLESS vandal used a fire extinguisher to put out the Eternal Flame at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne yesterday morning.

Police have released CCTV footage of the man and want the public to help track him down.

That second quote there is The Herald Sun being so keen to help catch the guy that they put the rest of the article, including the man’s description, behind the paywall.


For what it’s worth he’s apparently Caucasian, early 40s, slim build, about 170cm tall (or near enough 5’7″ in old money), and wearing a dark jumper, and I would say that he’s also a prick for doing that. But I can’t help feeling that if he’s caught this is going to turn out to be something a bit more complex than simple vandalism. Take another look at the guy: does he look like a vandal? Is he acting like a vandal? And was what he did a wanton act of property destruction that’s typical of vandals?

To my mind it’s no to all three – he looks like a guy on his way to work, which at that time on a weekday he may well have been, and he behaves like someone who’s thought the act out in advance and gone out with the intention of putting the flame out, nothing more and nothing less. It’s vanishingly unlikely that he just happened to find a full fire extinguisher lying around in the street and decided to use it on the flame, and if he had and had also been your stock vandal you’d have expected the extinguisher to have ended up being hurled at something breakable. Nor does his dress or age seem like that of someone committing a random act of vandalism. Instead it seems more likely that he’s decided to put the flame out for some reason, gone and bought an extinguisher in advance – one that’s large enough to do the job but small enough to go in a bag – for that specific purpose, and then quite cooly gone about doing just that. It’s also something that will cause outrage but not any permanent damage. Didn’t leave the extinguisher behind either, I notice.

This may legally be vandalism but I suspect the motivation for it is something a bit different, and wouldn’t be surprised if it turns out to be some kind of fucked up anti-war or anti-capitalism protest. And I say fucked up not just because I wouldn’t agree with it as a form of protest but because people who do something designed to provoke outrage from the general public in order to draw attention to whatever cause they’re into normally do so with the expectation, if not the intention, of arrest. The Femen protestors in the Ukraine who keep showing up at public events and getting their tits out, that muppet who swam in the Thames while the university boat race was on, people who chain themselves to things, they all do it with the aim of getting lots of attention and accept the risk of arrest as a fair price for it. What they don’t do is calmly flash boobs in a random direction when nobody’s around or swim in rivers on a completely unimportant day, and then equally calmly leave the scene. I just can’t help feeling that this guy was getting something personal off his chest, and I’d be astonished if all of this hasn’t already occurred to Victoria Police’s investigators.

He may be a dickhead for what he’s done but he seems unlikely to be your typical vandal, and I’d have thought it’s at least possible that that difference might lead police to him. So why is the media happy simply to paint him as a common or garden vandal and run off some fairly brief copy about it, some of which is behind paywalls anyway?

Right-on Dave strikes again

Cameramong’s latest brain spasm, it seems, is to force companies to appoint women, showing once again that he has absolutely no understanding of the concept of freedom.

David Cameron warned that the UK’s inability to exploit women’s full potential as entrepreneurs was “failing our whole economy”.

Okay, this may be true, and I think we can take it as read that in an economy the size of Britain’s there will inevitably be a number of positions occupied by men which could have been done better by one of the female applicants for the job. However, that doesn’t mean that the answer is quotas because it’s just as certain that some of those positions could have been done better by one of the male candidates. Or someone who didn’t apply for the job at all because they were happy where they were. You see, Dave, companies try to get the best person for every job but if they were always successful then nobody would ever be fired, would they? Sometimes they get it wrong and very often the best person isn’t available anyway, but in any case if someone isn’t free to screw up then they’re not free full stop. Why not just let those companies run by misogynistic morons who insist on hiring less capable males over women because of the CEO’s rampant vagina-phobia carry on doing so, and let those who aren’t fussy about applicants’ sex hire those more capable women who were rejected by the vagina-phobes? In the long run the latter should become more successful and the former are more likely to go tits up (pun very much intended).

The Prime Minister is attending a summit in Stockholm to learn from countries such as Norway and Iceland, which have successfully introduced quotas to increase the number of women in boardrooms.

The wording of this sentence is extremely interesting. It says that they’ve successfully introduced quotas, not that the introduction of quotas has been an economic success, and since on a list of countries ranked by recent growth Norway and Iceland are both well behind even the poor performing UK I’m interested to hear what evidence there is that it’s made any bloody difference at all. If it was me, Dave, I’d be thinking of going to summits to learn from, oh, I don’t know, maybe the top four or five growing economies – Qatar, Singapore, Paraguay, India (yeah, that’s right, India which the DFID insist still need UK aid) and Taiwan – rather than countries ranked at 159 and 180. Out of 183. Christ’s sakes, Norway and Iceland aren’t even in the top five for Europe, though to be fair neither is the UK or anyone in the Eurozone, and the only EU member in the top 5 is Bulgaria – draw your own conclusions.

Government figures suggested that Britain’s slow progress was costing the economy more than £40 billion in lost potential each year, roughly equal to the defence budget.

Ah, and more corporate red tape will help, will it, Dave? Ideological state interference with the actual running of a business will do  more than clearing the way for the ones with the best business models, which I’d anticipate would probably include not giving a rip either way about the contents of senior employees’ underpants, to become successful? It’ll help more than reducing the tax burden on both businesses and their customers so that turnovers and profits can go up, businesses can expand and more jobs can be created? It’ll help more than doing something about the estimated £65 billion annual cost to the economy of Britain’s continued EU membership?

Mr Cameron said the Nordic-Baltic Summit would generate ideas for how Britain can “help women become entrepreneurs and take up leading positions in business”.

Electing a government that stopped screwing up the economy would be a terrific start. Just my 2¢.

A government policy paper, presented to the summit, estimated that if female entrepreneurship reached the same levels as in the US, “there would be 600,000 extra women-owned businesses, contributing an extra £42 billion to the economy”.

And ignoring the possibility, which I’m sure is vanishingly remote, that this figure of £42 billion (wasn’t it £40 billion a minute ago and what made it increase by 5% in a few paragraphs?) wasn’t just pulled out of someone’s arse at the Treasury, is the extra rate of female entrepreneurship in the United States because businesses there have federally imposed quotas for hiring females in senior positions along the lines you’re thinking of, Dave? Because if it’s not and the Obamarised US has no such law – which this 10 week old Forbes article suggests is the case – then it’s all pretty irrelevant, don’t you think?

Dave, you really are the most clueless twat Britain’s had for Prime Mentalist since… erm, well, since the last one.

Doomed. We’re all doooomed.

Yes, Gingerella, you can go to the ball

Okay, the handsome prince has turned out to be eBay rather than the First Bloke Tim, but at least your shoe has turned up.

Half inched from the Sydney Morning Herald

Online auction website eBay has taken a listing for Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s missing shoe off the site.

Except it might not have.

It was not clear whether it was actually Ms Gillard’s missing shoe, but it seemed unlikely as the seller used news photographs from the protest on the listing.

The outrageous bids also suggested the sale was a hoax.

Okay, mildly amusing, but funnier (in quite a not really funny way) is something that helped kickstart the whole incident off. I know from a comment by JuliaM on the Australia Day post that the Tent Embassy protest that the PM got caught up in made news in the UK, but I’m not sure how widely reported it was that the protestors were actually baying for the blood of the leader of the opposing (il)Liberal Party Tony Abbott for suggesting that the Tent Embassy was justified when it began 40 years ago but wasn’t really needed anymore.

Look, I can understand why the tent embassy was established all those years ago. I think a lot has changed for the better since then. We had the historic apology just a few years ago, one of the genuine achievements of Kevin Rudd as Prime Minister. We had the proposal which is currently for national consideration to recognise indigenous people in the Constitution. I think the indigenous people of Australia can be very proud of the respect in which they are held by every Australian and yes, I think a lot has changed since then and I think it probably is time to move on from that.

Personally I don’t agree. I’m all for the right of people to protest peacefully for as long as they feel they’ve got something to protest about, and up ’til now the Tent Embassy’s been a hell of a lot better than some of the Occupod lot. In fact it’s been so unobtrusive that I’ve never even seen it myself despite visiting Canberra a few times. I don’t know, maybe they trashed the place a lot in the past and I just haven’t lived here long enough to know, but looking at Google Earth they don’t seem to be really in the way or making a mess so what’s the big deal? It’s not as if you’ll find all that many people who don’t think that they certainly had a cause to begin with – even Tony Abbott thinks that. However, for me they lost the moral high ground when they lost their shit and decided that what he meant was that it should be torn down and the protestors kicked out, which is something absent from any direct quote of Tony Abbott that I’ve seen and which he’s explicitly denied saying. Yet they went nuts about it anyway.*

And it’s not just the protestors who’ve gone down in my estimation, though to be honest since this other person is a political media advisor even rock bottom isn’t that far to fall. But what makes it funny is that it’s none other than Gingery Dullard’s own media advisor.

THE spark for the riot near the Aboriginal tent embassy that threatened Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott came from the Prime Minister’s own office when information was passed to protesters about the Opposition Leader.

One of Ms Gillard’s media advisers, Tony Hodges, resigned last night after conceding he had disclosed Mr Abbott was at The Lobby restaurant, next to the tent embassy, and information was passed to protest organisers.

Ms Gillard and Mr Abbott were surrounded by about 50 angry protesters at a medal presentation on Australia Day after a meeting outside the tent embassy was incorrectly told Mr Abbott had said that morning the 40-year-old symbolic embassy should be torn down. The crowd was told Mr Abbott was attending a function next door, which led protesters to go to the restaurant, bang on the glass walls and threaten the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader.

And it gets worse, or better depending on your point of view.

Ms Gillard’s office did not deny Mr Hodges had wrongly told protesters that Mr Abbott had earlier suggested the tent embassy should be “torn down” or “shut down”.

So it’s accepted that this Hodges guy sparked the incident by telling them where Abbott would be, and it sounds as if he may also have grossly distorted what Abbott had actually said. If that doesn’t grant him membership of the Jo Moore club I don’t know what will.

H/T Skepticlawyer.

* I should add emphatically that not all Aborigines involved in the Tent Embassy were involved in the bust up or lost any moral high ground.

“It defeats progress,” [Matilda House] said. “You’re not a hero for burning the Australian flag. How many Aboriginal men and women went to war and fought under the flag?”

She said the activists who launched Thursday’s violent protests against Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott were trying to be heroes. “But they weren’t heroes in my eyes,” she said. “The heroes were here in 1972 and those people just destroyed everything for the 40th anniversary by going on like they did.”

Rest here, though it’s a subscription article at the Aussie and you may have to cough up to read it.