Crikey says: On May 10 Crikey published an item in ‘tips and rumours’ regarding Committee for Melbourne CEO Andrew MacLeod potentially running for the ALP in the upcoming Victorian election. MacLeod has informed Crikey this information is incorrect. Crikey didn’t seek comment from MacLeod before running the piece and we apologise for any upset caused.

Mining tax and politics:

Roger Colman writes: Re. “Ah for a Keating to disrupt the clash of the incompetents” (yesterday, item 9). I take issue with the tone of Bernard Keane’s writing and the logical analysis  which applies to his stories. This following paragraph is an opinion piece not becoming this journal, nor a reporting , or analysis.

“If a bunch of whingeing foreign mining companies can derail a sensible tax reform through an hysterical propaganda campaign and buying the support of a major political party, we may as well sack elected politicians and put business executives and share market screen jockeys in charge of the country.”

Here is an some analysis for Mr Keane. On ABS data on the mining sector (4 quarters 2009), the mining sector had profits before tax of $48.5b or $33.9B after notional 30% tax. The proposed  rent tax is a net $9b pa increase or another 26.5% of after tax profits. Mining  share prices have not fallen enough on this simple, but in sum, correct,  cut through. Only the probability weighting of either a Liberal win or a successful mining industry campaign, is keeping these shares above where they should fall to.

Oh!, and by the way to cover for some of Mr Keane’s previous written oversights, since the petroleum tax was rejigged in 1987 -23 years ago — total drilling meters has never again reached that 1987 level, and Australia’s hydrocarbons (taxed areas) net exports have consistently gotten deeper into deficit (APEA data). That’s what a special tax does.

Lastly,  when it comes to putting some business executives in charge of the country, that is exactly what happened in 1939-1945 when the Curtin Government essentially delegated the running of the war effort to Sir Essington Lewis of BHP and W. J “Gunboat” Smith of ACI, the later who, in charge of munitions, was central to saving Australia. Curtin just stood around making speeches and fighting his trade unions, who on the wharves and the coal mines, were intent on sabotaging and pilfering  the war effort,  instead of the Japanese.

We should have  some of these executives in Parliament at appropriate salaries equal to a typical set of Board Seats, rather than wall to wall Trade  Unionists.

Alan Lindsay writes: Re. “US study widens the mining companies’ credibility gap” (yesterday, item 1). Bernard Keane should have taken a deep breath and done a little more research before jumping in and following the government line in vilifying our mining industry with his comments on tax. He has created his own credibility gap in so slavishly following the spin of Rudd, Gillard and Swan in quoting the draft paper put out by the US group NCER.

ABC online has done what Bernard should have done in contacting the professor who was co-author of the report. He stated to the ABC that “the paper’s usefulness in comparing one sector in one country should not be overstated.”

The ABC went on to say:

Professor Shackelford acknowledged Mr Robb’s criticism about the non-inclusion of royalties and payroll tax, but says there are problems obtaining that data from many companies around the world.

“This is a comparison of corporate income taxes. So, it is true that we ignore other forms of business taxes,” he said.

“We recognize [sic] the shortcoming of limiting our analysis to corporate income taxes. We are forced to do so because few companies worldwide detail their non-income taxes.”

The mining tax campaign by the Government is an attempt to achieve what could be a reasonable exercise in improving and simplifying the mining taxation regime through vilification of the industry participants, rather than taking on the harder task of demonstrating that their approach is reasonable.

In doing so they have again shown themselves to be more spin than substance, and Bernard will increasingly find his own comments categorised this way if he slavishly follows their line.

David Campbell:

David Hand writes: Re. “Beecher: tabloid media laughing all the way to the pub on Campbell” (yesterday, item 3). I found Eric Beecher’s piece resonated strongly with me. An important protection for our freedoms and democracy is a free press. The ability of journalists and others to find out things those in power would prefer remain private is a vital right. It has exposed many stories of corruption over the years and made a tangible contribution to the open and free society we enjoy today.

Which is why it is so distressing to witness the tabloid media, led by Channels Seven and Nine, exploiting this important principle to all our disadvantage. The latest appalling behaviour by Channel Seven over David Cameron has cost the taxpayers of NSW another minister. I say this as a Liberal supporter; there is something deeply unsettling about the loss of two Cabinet Ministers in NSW through the tabloid media, led from the top, going to any lengths for a shameless invasion of people’s privacy.

Whatever flimsy gloss the protagonists may put on it, the loss of Cameron and Della Bosca from Government is undermining the freedoms the fourth estate is supposed to protect. The tabloid media’s loss of a moral compass is such that it is beginning to affect our democratic structures. Good people who might consider service will think twice.  Others will campaign with a real chance of success for protection from invasions of their privacy.

There is a real threat to one of our key democratic liberties and it is not coming from the rich and powerful who might profit from restrictions on press freedom but from those fools who filmed someone leaving a Kensington night club last week.

The BRW Rich List:

Don Dowell writes: Re. “Rich List: the names you’ll see (and the ones you won’t)” (yesterday, item 4). I’d love to see a BRW Rich List with a column added for how much each individual is estimated to have paid in personal income tax.

Then we could check out who were the  most successful “Tax Minimisers” as well , with a breathless little admiring story detailing off-shore tax shelters, the Head Office based in the Caribbean etc.

That’ll be the day.

UK Labour:

Mitchell Lawlor writes: Re. “UK Labour wrestles with the ghosts of Iraq” (yesterday, item 13). Charles Richardson suggests that invading Iraq was “far outside the bounds of civilised conduct”. Say what you like about the apparent opportunism and poor planning, but removing from a power a warmongering megalomaniacal genocidal dictator sounds remarkably like highly civilising conduct.

A TV blooper:

Stephen Williams writes: Re. “Last night’s TV ratings” (yesterday, item 19). I always enjoy Glenn Dyer’s media section, even if he does occasionally think stuff I like is boring.  I came over all funny yesterday, however, when he started talking about “digital penetration” on the weekend.  We’re just talking about TV, right?