There’s a predictable response from the rural managed investment scheme promoters to the federal government’s inconsistent toughening up on the Managed Investment Schemes tax lurk – drag out some rural poor to justify their high commissions and often questionable investments.

And some of the dopier backbenchers are predictably going along with it. A Timbercorp executive director is even trying to enlist the drought as a reason for continuing the tax rort.

Although the MIS promoters have been given another June 30 crop of tax minimisers to harvest before these businesses have to be treated like any other, there are already convenient stories of rural workers being sacked.

If the community wants to subsidise employment and investment in rural and regional Australia, there are vastly more efficient and transparent ways of doing it than through the inflated commissions and marketing charges of outfits preying on the tax fiddlers.

The real story remains the total inconsistency of the Howard cabinet in allowing the 100% up-front tax deduction for forestry plantations but not for, say, pecan plantations, or any other rural venture. It’s an inconsistency that Wilson Tuckey is prepared to highlight.

It looks like Gunns and the timber plantation lobby is listened to more closely in Canberra for some reason or other. No wonder they’re pleased to donate to the Liberal Party.

Peter Fray

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