Accenture: We do not dodge tax:

National Corporate Affairs Lead of Accenture Australia, Stephen Ries, writes: Re. “Huh? Tax Office awards contract to tax haven company” (Friday, item 6). A recent article by Chris Seage in Crikey on 9 November misrepresents the facts about Accenture. Mr Seage wrote that Accenture is “based in the well-known tax haven of Bermuda” and thus implied that Accenture does not meet its tax obligations in Australia. The fact is that Accenture pays, and has always paid, taxes in each of the countries in which it generates income, including Australia. Historically, Accenture operated as a group of more than 40 locally owned partnerships and other entities, coordinated through a Swiss-based entity. In 2001, Accenture’s 2,500 partners, more than half of whom were non-U.S. citizens, agreed to move to corporate form and seek a public listing. It was important, as a cultural matter, for the organisation to select a neutral location for its parent company. Bermuda — with its stable political and economic structure and its well-settled and predictable corporate legal system — was seen as a neutral location for Accenture’s diverse and global business. Bermuda was not then, and is not now, considered to be a tax haven by the OECD. Even analysis by the U.S. Government Accounting Office has stated that Accenture’s Bermuda incorporation does not give the company a tax cost advantage over other U.S.-based companies.

Charging more for the olive in the martini:

Damien Mugavin writes: Re. “Rates rise, Coalition vote dives: Morgan Poll” (Friday, item 1). The duck shoving we have seen from politicians regarding increases in official interest rates is understandable but decidedly dishonest. The level of interest rate is the price of money and relates both to the supply and demand from all sectors of the economy. Yet our political leaders are currently engaging in an orgy of spending promises that, if delivered, will result in astronomical demand for goods and services which the economy does not have the capacity to deliver. Where they frank with the voters, there would be promises of increases in income and company taxation, removal of exemptions from capital gains tax (including the exemption of private residences), abolition of negative gearing on rental property and undertakings to build up foreign reserve holdings. To simply rely on interest rates is rather like charging more for the olive in the martini; it won’t reduce the likelihood of getting drunk if you drink too many.

What we won’t see in the campaign:

Marcus L’Estrange writes: Re. “Abjorensen: 15 things we won’t see (unfortunately) in this campaign” (Friday, item 9). Abjorensen missed the fact that the two million plus Australians searching for work must be wondering when it is their turn to rate a mention in the election campaign. Their anxiety is exacerbated by the fact that there are only 172,000 vacancies (advertised / not advertised) for the two million plus unemployed.

Flint on education:

Denise Marcos writes: Re. “Flint: The real arbiters of this election are still undecided” 9Friday, item 10). Professor Flint declares” “…people are less educated than previous generations”. Having mulled over this since Friday’s tiffin I’m prompted to ask: Dear Professor, this less informed generation to which you refer seems to have transpired during eleven years of the Howard government? Surely, sir, you’re not alleging we’re being denied information and dumbed down on Howard’s “watch”! Only a blackguard would suggest it.

Lower pay and conditions for autoworkers?:

Andrew Whiley writes: Re. “The next poll shock: a car plant closure” (Friday, item 4). Ken Phillips never veers from the standard IPA analysis: “It’s the Unions fault! Now what was the question?” This time it’s the future of the car industry. As always he ducks the question of what “labour reform” means. Lower pay and conditions for autoworkers? How will this make the industry internationally competitive? Please explain…

Bunnings and Coles:

Robert Hulands writes: Re. “Some (gratuitous) advice for Wesfarmers” (Friday, item 36). I have recently left the employment of Bunnings after 11 months of frustration and disappointment. I was one of very few people who knew anything about the products we sold or cared about customer service or understood the concept of continuity of supply. It seems that the promotion of managers is purely based on who is the best crawler and each shop is set a ridiculously low target of turnover. Bunnings now only succeed because they have eliminated almost all of the competition in their field. Mitre 10 and Home hardware are not in any way like Woolworths so if they try to emulate their Bunnings strategy with Coles, heaven help the shareholders who put their trust in them. The Bunnings store in which I worked had the worst staff morale of any business I have ever worked in my 50 years of diversified working life so if they try to take that over to Coles as well, heaven help us all.

Howard’s reign:

Mike Burke writes: Tim Mackay (Friday, comments) wrote: “John Howard is asking for 18 more months as PM. Can someone (anyone?) at Crikey (or even a Liberal supporter among your readers) please, please answer me this: What specifically is John Howard seeking to achieve as PM in those 18 months that Costello as PM could not achieve?” Wrong question, Tim. The question ought to be: What specifically is John Howard seeking to achieve that Costello could not achieve? The answer to that is simply “To win the election for the Coalition.” Howard’s chances of doing that might well be slim, but Costello’s are infinitesimal.

Gavin Findlay writes: Re. Tim Mackay. Short answer: To give the Coalition even the remotest chance of winning. Long answer: To improve his “batting average”… In winning this election Howard would equal Bob Hawke’s second place mark of four election wins. Howard’s extra longevity as PM would counteract his single election loss (compared to Hawke’s unbeaten status) to elevate him (in his own mind) to Number Two on the Prime Minister batting stats.

Knowing a gizzard from a giblet:

Maria Conidaris writes: Re. “Bahnisch: The postmodern election” (Friday, item 11). Mark Bahnsich writes that “almost daily Newspoll gizzards are picked over by the resident augurs to find a good omen somewhere”. I’m very surprised by this as an augur wouldn’t know a gizzard from a giblet, but they would be able to give you a good prognostication based on the way the chooks were carrying on in the coop. A haruspex, on the other hand, would give you a perfect reading of the entrails… is he trying to say some thing about the Oz ?

Doctor’s wives:

Stiofan MacAedh writes: Re. “Doctors’ wives and North Sydney” (Friday, comments). In due deference to Catherine Rytmeister, let’s use a new, more accurate term: “people whose commitment to social justice issues is in direct proportion to their partner’s earning power and their own leisure time”. And John Robinson is right: It might be just possible that North Sydney has a high proportion of young people, starting in jobs, looking to buy a house, starting a family. In fact, they’re probably the same people who feature regularly on the ABC and in the SMH , moaning about how they can’t afford a nice little terrace in some inner-city nook. Could one be radical and suggest that, if you’re a young person “starting in jobs, looking to buy a house, starting a family”, North Sydney is not the place to be? You’d be considerably better off in a more far-flung and cheaper suburb.

Get some hope, Crikey!:

Harry Buskens writes: Lately, after reading my daily Crikey newsletter I feel like jumping off the West Gate bridge. Apart from the fact that amongst your contributors you have more than your share of Howard Haters, (like about 9 to 1) it appears that there is not one decent, sane, sincere, genuine person in the world, everyone in the public light is a lying, scheming, conniving, cynical, opportunist. I happen to think the world is not such a bad place (and really do want to stay here much longer) but by far and away and by a vast majority, the world is made up of sincere, decent, caring, idealistic, well meaning and helpful people. Seems that very few of your contributors know any. We all know that it is only journalists who are all-knowing, truthful and right and that theirs is the only viewpoint that counts, but the continuing negativity in the Crikey Newsletter is definitely something I don’t need. Just a little positivity and less condemnation, please. Hope Springs Eternal.

Iced vovo’s and Gerard Henderson:

Dean Galloway writes: Please replace any and all future contributions from Gerard Henderson with commentary by Patrick Garson (Friday, comments). I can’t stop laughing at his all-too-accurate description of Henderson and his almighty ego. I’m off to the shops to buy iced vovo’s at once!

The Finns:

Andrew Dempster writes: Re. “The French kill their livers, while the Finns kill their lovers” (Friday, item 21). Guy Rundle discusses Finland: “The country is famously depressive, even for Scandinavia”. Generally, Finland is not (but can be) considered part of Scandinavia (see here). The Finns I know don’t consider themselves Scandinavian. “Nordic” however is not ambiguous…

A new list:

Guy Byrne writes: Re. “Sheridan to Musharraf: More massacres, please” (Friday, item 7). Might is certainly right for Greg. Over the years I have read a variety of Sheridan puff pieces on dictators, from Suharto to Marcos … maybe Crikey could start a new list!

The Greens, the Dems and GLBTI people:

Luke Miller writes: I like the Greens, but their attempt to claim the high moral ground this election by telling outrageous lies does dent my confidence. For example, Robert Humphreys’ preposterous claim (Friday, comments) that the Greens are “the one major party that has consistently stood up for justice for GLBTI people” is as disturbing in its revisionism as it is insulting and hurtful. Not only do the Australian Democrats have a far more impressive legislative record on GLBTI issues, but on a personal level, Senator Andrew Bartlett’s choked and tearful speech during the senate “debate” on the gay marriage ban is one of the finest human rights moments in the history of this country. What galls me is that Humphrey’s insulting claim comes on top of further false statements from the Greens that they are the only environment party and the only animal welfare party. I’m not sure what the Democrats have done to earn this hostility, but the Greens should be trying to build on the legacy of the Democrats instead of tearing it down.

The Tele :

Kael Driscoll writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (6 November, item 5). I remember seeing something last week about the Daily Telegraph busting open some scandalous story about K-Rudd that was going to make the Scores story pale in comparison (or some such nonsense), due for release on Friday. I had a look at their web site on Friday and I am guessing that this rumoured election-result-altering bombshell isn’t related to any of the following important headlines: Fabio vs. George: It’s lucky he didn’t end up in ER; Furlong too fast at School; Woman knocked out at PM store; Aussie DJ tells of Gun Slaughter; Carmen Body Slam; Bottom line in stunts. So where is the good stuff on Kev? Looking at the Tele web site almost makes me think the West Australian is a half-decent newspaper.

Neither a tip nor a rumour:

Jim Hart writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (Friday, item 8). Its one thing to let Ben Sandilands write about airline incidents since he generally seems to know what he’s talking about even if he does get a tad earnest sometimes. But it’s quite another to give space to any amateur planespotter who gets scared seeing two aircraft at the same time from his window seat and thinks he has a scoop on a near-disaster. Let’s assume that pilots don’t taxi anywhere without specific instruction from a controller who knows exactly how long until the inbound aircraft needs the concrete. These standard practices generally work efficiently every day (even at airports bigger than Canberra) so everyone can come and go safely with minimum delay. And if by any chance the one on the ground doesn’t get out of the way the inbound pilot will simply go round and try again, burning enough extra fuel to melt another polar bear and giving all the Crikey readers on board an extra view of Lake Burley Griffin and something to bore their friends with when they get home. But until something genuinely significant happens there’s really no need for them to tell the rest of us.

The drought:

John Boyd writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (Friday, item 8). Crikey published: “A little known fact is that the last time Labor won with Hawke and before that Whitlam, the drought broke…” I remember the drought breaking in March 1983, Lake George filled to overflowing etc. There was a lovely Pryor cartoon in the Canberra Times depicting a Moses-like Hawke coming down from the mountain saying “well that’s fixed the drought, now for the deficit.”

Cricket Australia:

David Liberts writes : What a ridiculous assertion by Mike Smith (Friday, comments) that Cricket Australia own the IP rights to cricket. Cricket Australia owns the broadcast rights, and various other rights to exploit replica uniforms and bits of marketing guff. Cricket, like other sports, belongs to the players and fans, and like other sport administration bodies which lose sight of this vital rule in pursuit of other agendas, Cricket Australia risks opening itself up to a backlash from a very broad community.

Mark Vaile is the new Homer:

Janet Keniger writes: Re. “Campaign lite: the Friday wrap” (Friday, item 18). It’s just uncanny. The storyline is the same, just insert new characters… As the ratings for Itchy and Scratchy (John and Peter) plummet, the studio (Coalition) commissions a study (Poll) about what people would want to see in a revamped show (Front Bench). All the answers they get back are contradictory and in the end they come up with a new character for the show, Poochie – a hip, edgy, cool, popular, rebel party dog that Homer ends up providing the voice for.

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