Twiggy’s philanthropy questioned

Vincent Burke writes: Re. “Crikey says: you’ve got to give it to Twiggy” (yesterday). Forgive me for seeming to begrudge the apparent generosity of Twiggy Forrest, but am I not right in questioning the extent to which his gift (probably to be more precise his company’s gift — i.e. his shareholders) is tax deductible? Given there is a tax benefit for most gifts to charities or not-for-profit enterprises, that means less tax to pay, which ultimately means we, the public, are paying. It’s the same with sponsorship — a gift to a sports organisation is justified as a business outlay, and therefore comes off the gross income of a company, thus reducing the amount of tax payable. Part of me feels happy with this. It is why Americans — as individuals and corporations — are much more generous than Australians, because they can unashamedly set their donations against their tax. I’m happy to be corrected by any expert, but let’s not get too carried away.

Dave Lennon writes: If the “philanthropist” and his ilk had not “invested” $22 million knocking over and neutering the mining tax — which was expected to raise around $4.6 billion a year — and then bludgeoned the Gillard government into introducing the anaemic, face-saving MRRT which raised a measly $200 million,  just how many more dollars would already have been spent funding education in Australia, or even Western Australia? Real philanthropists earn their money, pay their taxes and then they donate on top of that. This is a man trying to buy good publicity by giving back a measly pittance from the money he should have paid in tax, had he and his ilk not decided their wealth was more important than the Commonwealth of Australia.

On the ALP’s new leaders

Glenn Frost writes: Re. “Will Labor’s reform momentum now grind to a halt?” (Monday). When MPs pick a leader, they are betting on their own long term survival. We know that a large chunk of the electorate don’t know (or care) about their local member, they look at the party leader and extrapolate down. Labor MPs know this, so they bet on a leader who they think the electorate will favour, and who can box cleverly with the best boxer in Canberra. The ALP MPs who elected Shorten as Leader are betting he is the best bet to knock out the PM; they have a great reason to have a higher weighting in the ALP’s leadership contest; it’s their careers on the line; you can’t say that about the party membership, whose only “skin in the game” is the (very low) membership fee.

Anthony Albanese reminded MPs too much of Kim Beazley. Nice guy, but a loser. Whereas Shorten is like Rudd; you might not like him but he stands a chance of winning; and as all MPs and senators know, politics is 100% about winning. Shorten’s challenge is to work through the therapy his party and nation seems to want on Gillard (for females) and Rudd (for business), then learn how to out-box PM Abbott.

Dylan Taylor writes: Re. “Why they’re wild about Tanya” (yesterday). While I endorse everything good that is written about Tanya Plibersek, may I make a plea to the media not to overdo this. Let her do her thing, treat her like all other MPs in important positions. Please do not do to her what you have done to Julia Gillard or Carmen Lawrence — over-egg the possibilities and build up expectations to impossible levels so that she — when and if she makes it to the top — will be bound to disappoint half the population at least. Just for once, get it right and leave it.

Overhauling indigenous corporations

Bronwyn Humphries: Re. “Indigenous corporations and the low-hanging regulatory fruit” (yesterday). Would you be kind enough in your usual superb manner, to please explain how one man can use a large union such as the Health Services Union, and I quote ABC News Radio today, “as his personal fiefdom for over 16 years”, and defraud the members of approximately $5 million? How did the Australian Council of Trade Unions, supposedly the governing body, not inspect their corporate governance practices or lack of them?

Then again how did one Queensland government employee defraud Queensland of $16 million? Where are the basic checks and balances? It is beyond belief. How dare we publicise indigenous corporations for fraud …

Get more Crikey, for less

It’s more than a newsletter. It’s where readers expect more – fearless journalism from a truly independent perspective. We don’t pander to anyone’s party biases. We question everything, explore the uncomfortable and dig deeper.

Join us this week for 50% off a year of Crikey.

Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
50% off