ATO SCANDAL WIDENS

The fallout continues from what’s being called the biggest white collar crime in Australian history. Raids yesterday by 300 Australian Federal Police on 28 premises led to nine arrests — including two children of a deputy commissioner — and revealed an alleged tax fraud syndicate worth $165 million. 

The Australian calls it an “unprecedented crisis” for the Australian Tax Office, with Deputy Commissioner Michael Cranston facing two charges of abusing his power to seek information about an investigation into tax fraud by his son, Adam Cranston, while also detailing the “fast cars, luxury properties, ­expen­sive watches and guns” the syndicate accrued. The Australian Financial Review records the tax industry “shock” over the ATO veteran of 35 years pending arrest.

The Fairfax papers report “high-ranking lawyers” and Sydney journalist Steve Barrett have been implicated in the scandal. The ABC is reporting concerns among senators about the affect the allegations will have on other ATO investigations such as the Panama Papers. The Herald Sun, meanwhile, focuses on Adam Cranston’s love life, calling him the “tax cheat Casanova.”

SURVEILLANCE LEVELS ON MANUS REVEALED

The Guardian has exclusively obtained documents detailing the “forensic” level of surveillance endured by refugees and asylum seekers on Manus Island detention centre. According to the documents and interviews with detainees, there are roving patrols, CCTV and guards monitoring public and private spaces (as well as phone and computer use). Staff report back to central databases on issues such as minute as inmates’ appearance, manner, and who they associate with.

READ ALL ABOUT IT

‘We should celebrate our victories’: Anthony Albanese critiques Shorten’s budget reply

Generational evolution forces Nationals to consider adopting emissions intensity scheme

Banks question $6.2 billion tax revenue projections

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Brisbane: Treasurer Scott Morrison to speak at a Brisbane chamber of commerce breakfast.

Melbourne: Representatives of Fairfax bidder TPG to appear before Senate public interest journalism inquiry. 

Melbourne: Social Services Minister Christian Porter to meet with NGOs and attorneys-general to discuss redress scheme for child sexual abuse survivors.

THE COMMENTARIAT

Rhetoric won’t save us from real economic pain — David Crowe (The Australian $):”If Labor takes power, its first budget will bear little resemblance to the comfortable assurances Bowen offered on Wednesday, when he made fiscal repair sound as easy as tightening up some tax concessions.”

Why the smashed avo meme refuses to die — Josephine Tovey (The Age): “The avocado toast meme has proved such a stayer because it gives succour to one audience — the older readers of The Australian or viewers of 60 Minutes — reassuring them their own ability to purchase homes was the result of their personal virtue, and that they shouldn’t feel guilty about outbidding that young couple to acquire their second investment property.”

Malcolm’s next crew on the good ship Turnbull — Sharri Markson (The Daily Telegraph $): “Christian Porter or Michaelia Cash could replace Brandis, with Mathias Cormann as the new Senate Leader.”

THE WORLD

Father of Fox News Roger Ailes has died aged 77. Ailes helped found Fox News with Rupert Murdoch in 1996, overseeing the network and turning it into a conservative political juggernaut in the United States. One of the most powerful men in television, Ailes finally lost the backing of the Murdoch family last year after a string of sexual harassment allegations and a lawsuit from Fox News star Gretchen Carlson. — New York Times

The US airforce has attacked pro-Syrian government fighters in the country’s south. The strike is believed to have killed six people involved in a pro-government militia group. — Al Jazeera

One person has been killed and 22 injured after a car mounted the curb in Times Square, New York. The driver, who had a history of drink driving offences, was taken into custody, while New York City mayor Bill de Blasio said there was no indication the incident was a terror attack. — New York Times

WHAT WE’RE READING

My family’s slave (The Atlantic): “I was 4 years old when we arrived in the US — too young to question Lola’s place in our family. But as my siblings and I grew up on this other shore, we came to see the world differently. The leap across the ocean brought about a leap in consciousness that Mom and Dad couldn’t, or wouldn’t, make.”

Today they struck us in the heart (Riodoce): “A group of gunmen assassinated our friend, Javier Arturo Valdez Cárdenas. They waited for him to leave the office of Ríodoce where he had been working in the morning. They viciously killed him. It’s a devastating blow for us, for his family, but also for journalism — for Sinaloans, for Mexicans, and, more than anything, for all who investigate, write, and publish in freedom.”

Free advice to Trump aides: quit while you can (New York Times): “These men and women are suffering personally while propping up a presidency they appear to hold in contempt. They are allowing themselves to be permanently tarnished through their association with a man whose name is destined to become the root of a political epithet signifying disgrace, like McCarthyite or Nixonian.”

Accelerationism: how a fringe philosophy predicted the future we live in (The Guardian): Accelerationists argue that technology, particularly computer technology, and capitalism, particularly the most aggressive, global variety, should be massively sped up and intensified — either because this is the best way forward for humanity, or because there is no alternative. Accelerationists favour automation. They favour the further merging of the digital and the human. They often favour the deregulation of business, and drastically scaled-back government. They believe that people should stop deluding themselves that economic and technological progress can be controlled.”

Saudi Arabia experiments with reform amid economic downturn (Der Spiegel): “Things are changing — even in what may be the world’s most conservative country. The government has stripped the notorious religious police of their power and the more than 3000 guardians of morality, who terrorized women for wearing makeup and arrested unmarried couples for walking next to each other on the street, are a rare sight these days … The primary reason is the disappearance of Saudi Arabia’s fairy-tale riches.”

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Peter Fray

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