JOHN MENADUE. The dumbed- down tax ‘debate’ and the Canberra Press Gallery.

In the ‘debate’ over tax and the attacks on Bill Shorten, not one member of the Canberra Press Gallery could be bothered to explain to us that with dividend imputation the difference between a 25% and a 27% tax rate for a small company is infinitesimal.  

The Canberra Press Gallery is incessantly feeding us with politics and personalities. What about them getting occasional background briefings from senior and well informed public servants on policy issues

The gallery has gone AWOL in helping us to understand major policy issues and not just taxation. The failings include:

  • How we are likely to be saddled with a fifth rate energy policy as we face the existential threat of climate change and increases in energy prices. The problems began with Coalition defeat of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme in 2008 and the end of the Carbon Tax. The gallery ignores the numerous obstacles the Coalition has placed in the path of good policy for a decade and focuses instead on the coal lobby, divisions in the Liberal Party and the lack of a bipartisan policy as if the ALP is equally responsible for the mess.
  • How the Iraq War has brought terrorism to Australia and refugees to our borders. The gallery treats terrorism and border control as discreet stand alone issues .A few hot headed young terrorists are here because John Howard sent out troops over there and they are still there. Anti terrorism has become a scam. Industries have sprung up to capitalise on the deliberately promoted fear. Domestic violence is a much more serious problem but our media sees only terrorists
  • The disastrous NBN and Malcolm Turnbull’s complicity with Tony Abbott to roll out a second rate system.
  • Cooperating with our security services in running the anti-China narrative. Just think of the Vanuatu beat up!
  • Unwillingness to admit that they were wrong in accepting the Tony Abbott line that he stopped the boats. He did not.
  • The widespread erosion of our liberties through legislation and power seeking by ministers and officials. We are seeing signs of a pre-fascist or pre-police state. Where is the media in all this?
  • We are now witnessing the prosecution of persons who pointed out foreign interference by ASIS in bugging the East Timorese Cabinet room. At the same time the government is pressing legislation on foreign interference in Australia. Can’t the gallery see the double standard in this.
  • Following the government line that the ALP is conducting class war when in fact it is the powerful who are conducting and winning the class war with alarming increases in inequality.

The tax debate is just another example of media failure.

In this blog on 2 July 2018, Ian McAuley ‘How political opportunism and poor journalism brought us a dumbed-down tax debate”, described quite clearly how the Canberra Press Gallery has just not understood the important policy issues involved in the tax ‘debate’. Has the gallery heard of something called ‘dividend imputation’ which dramatically reduces the effective tax rate?. And that our effective company tax rate is one of the lowest in the world.

The outcome as Ian McAuley describes is that with dividend imputation, the difference between 25% and 27% tax rate for a small company is infinitesimal.

And the public seems to know this better than the media ,the Coalition and the nervous nellies in the Labor caucus who don’t understand their own policy and became easy pickings for a gallery with no interest in facts and analysis .

Newspoll told us a few days ago that the public supported Bill Shorten’s decision to scrap the legislated tax reductions for companies with turnover between $10 million and $50 million. The poll found that 52% of voters supported Bill Shorten’s captains call (supporters included 72% of Labor voters, 64% of Greens, 54% of One Nation and 35% of Coalition voters).

Only 37% of voters opposed Bill Shorten’s plan. 11% were undecided.

The personal campaign conducted by Malcolm Turnbull, Scott Morrison and Mathias Cormann against Bill Shorten, encouraged by the gallery, was over a ‘captain’s call that the majority of voters supported. And either way there would have been marginal impact on companies.

The undermining of our democracy by the Murdoch media and the performance of our Canberra Press Gallery in recent years, points to the public benefits that we could get from a thorough public review of the performance of our media.

The banking royal commission has shown the way.

The tax ‘debate’ is just another instance of how badly we are being served by our media. We have a serious problem and it is getting worse.

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John Menadue is the publisher of Pearls & Irritations. He has had a distinguished career both in the private sector and in the Public Service.

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