Feb 19, 2018

Amid denialism on company tax cuts, the ABC lets us all down

At a time when commercial media outlets like the Financial Review are misleading Australians about company tax cuts, the ABC's censorship of Emma Alberici further undermines trust in our media.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

The ABC's censorship of Emma Alberici in response to pressure from Malcolm Turnbull comes at a time when the national broadcaster's mainstream media competitors are also increasingly failing to properly inform Australians.

Far from being, as alleged by the ABC, too opinionated, Alberici's piece (available here) is a collation of straightforward facts -- levels of profit versus wages growth in recent years, the fact that few companies pay 30% tax, the high level of investment despite our "uncompetitive" tax rate, the minimal role tax plays in business investment decisions, the comparative performance of investment and wages in Australia, and Canada, where company tax rates were reduced significantly, the decline of real wages in the UK where company taxes were also cut, the Congressional Budget Office analysis showing Australia's tax rate is relatively low compared internationally; the relatively negligible economic benefits identified in the government's own modelling, the fact that we're projected to remain in deficit for several years yet.

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42 thoughts on “Amid denialism on company tax cuts, the ABC lets us all down

  1. Jack Robertson

    Exactly, spot on. Alberici’s censoring is beyond chilling. She’s a Walkley nominee on exactly this topic, ffs.


    1. thelorikeet

      And George has got a gun!

      1. Jack Robertson

        Clearly Malcom The Prefect needs to impose a ‘Bonkers Ban’ on parliamentarians too, Thel.

    2. Bethany Challen

      Chilling is indeed the word. Will no-one stand up to this government? Thankfully The Australia Institute is getting some airtime with their debunking of this trickle down bullshit but is the average “Aussie battler” numbskull really getting it!

  2. Paul

    I agree with all but the conclusion. The ABC is not a state broadcaster it is a Liberal broadcaster. They regularly attacked Gillard and Rudd and also many in the National Party.

    I challenge anyone to honestly assert that if Gillard or Shorten demanded an assessment be censored that it would be. The story would be “Labor tries to censor ABC fact checks”.

    The Sabra Lane interview with the SA water Minister last week demonstrated that the only research that the ABC now does is to read Liberal Party handouts.

    The lack of reporting from all of the media of the hypocrisy of Turnbull in demanding women be respected while allowing the disgusting attacks on Gillian Triggs, Gillard and Sarah Hanson Young is another demonstration of all of the media self censoring when reporting on Turnbull words and actions. His respect didn’t extend to giving Bishop the acting PM position after she asked for it or only inviting one senior female business identity on his US trip, so when he talks of consulting his wife about Joyce my response is that he should consult the person who is the present partner of Joyce and ask her if Joyce has disrespected her.

    1. thelorikeet

      With you Pal – the ABC has become a tory apologist institution. Morning radio is now useless (leaving the news making news breaking to Crikey! and the Guardian. And all those British tele shows – the grim ones and the unfunny ‘comedies’. Thanks Michelle. Great job. AC coming your way in the 2019 gong list

      1. John Robertson

        I’d leave the Guardian out Thelorikeet, better the A.I.M. Just my opinion.

        1. leon knight

          The Guardian is brilliant compared to any other MSM – if it was more widely read and had a TV arm, many more voters would be much better informed – but obviously not those that thrive on the sensationalism and quick grabs that commercial TV offers.

  3. Heartshunter

    This is one of my biggest concerns where media keeps giving the neoliberal slant to everything and bending the facts (I’m being generous here) – it’s clearly fomenting consent from the people who don’t have the time to fact check everything and we’re on a path where it will be hard to come back from. It’s generally also the cause I donate to to get a more diverse view out there from independent media that, most of the times, are much more factual. It’s actually quite terrifying as you can see discourse go awry like a slow running trainwreck.

  4. Laurie Patton

    PEOPLE IN GLASS HOUSES AFR! The following quote from today’s AFR story is guilty of the crime of which it accuses others. It makes an assertion as fact, which will only be proven, or otherwise, in the future… “Not only has the US cut corporate taxes, it has also allowed an immediate tax deduction for investment in new equipment. That combination will boost the productivity of the US – and hence the prosperity of Americans too.”

    1. Arky

      Their editorial line treats trickle-down economics as holy writ.

      With Laura Tingle heading out the door, the AFR’s political coverage is going to turn to absolute shit. For a long time, the AFR has had the most trustworthy political coverage in the mainstream press – partly because its readers demand accurate information in its general reporting style, and partly because Tingle had more sense than just about anyone else in the press gallery (she cemented her reputation with this reader when, almost alone, she pooh-poohed the Coalition’s screams about “sovereign risk” with the mining tax) and clearly had the security and seniority to write the truth even when it directly contradicted the shrieking far-right ideology found in the editorial column and from regular opinion contributors like John Roskam and Rowan Dean.

      1. brian crooks

        dont worry, the AFR is only preaching to the committed, thats why their circulation is down and going down down, I bet the terra graph circulation is up since they started printing the truth, no doubt it will go back to the mad right very soon and sink back into the the readers cellar, but it shows why newspapers are losing readers, they only cater for a small percentage of the redneck public so only sell to them, the rest ignore them and go online for their news, I stopped buying the Murdoch papers years ago and so did many more.

  5. Saugoof

    It’s also another spectacular own goal by Turnbull and Morrisson. Had they ignored the piece, nowhere near as many people would have actually read it, or even heard about it.

    1. Marcus Hicks

      Yep, The Streisand Effect in action. They are flipping morons.

    2. Coral SeeNQ

      No. The piece was in The New Daily. Then they were out early when it got pulled down as well. That’s where I first read it, because the ABC has become an ‘unreliable’ news source of information. I, like many I know, are waiting for some action to be taken on the current nature and failure of the ABC. Change of government I mean. The people they have employed their failureto declare the vested interest of experts they trot out, like ASPI, they are no different to Joyce so why report on his abuse of the taxpayer. They now actually make stuff up. It has become breathtaking and unusable. Just as the AFR they are the beltway priveldged and tenured and they are being found out. The Joyce affair was just the start and the punters are putting it together. ‘During times of deceit telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act’. Orwell. Good on Emma. So MSM you are not on notice you are found out. Can you rehabilitate, do we care.

  6. James Findlay

    Yes. Exactly.

  7. Marcus Hicks

    Does anyone remember the conniption fit that the Coalition & its Murdoch Cheer Squad had when Labor proposed legislation aimed at merely strengthening the independent media regulators?
    Yet Coalition Ministers bully the ABC into taking down a story they don’t like, & the usual suspects don’t even say “boo”.

  8. Jack Robertson

    And by the way, while I respect the admirable restraint of a professional journo keen to be seen scrupulously eschewing any hint of indulging in ‘the politics of envy’ and ‘class warfare’, BK, I strongly dispute that Alberici’s point about Joyce’s (the other one) salary was ‘gratuitous’. Here is what she had to say:

    ‘…A zero corporate tax bill at Qantas has certainly seen one significant wage rise at the company — the chief executive’s. The benefit to workers has been less pronounced. According to the Australian Services Union, representing just under half of all Qantas workers, the average pay rises for staff since the airline has returned to profitability have barely kept pace with inflation. Alan Joyce, on the other hand, has seen his total salary close to double from $12.9 million in 2016 to $24.6 million last year thanks to a huge jump in the value of shares provided as part of a bonus scheme…’.

    That is a simple statement of fact. And those numbers, however arcanely they might be fiscally justified (and accepted by equally benefitting Q shareholders) are, in the wider context of this debate, simply morally obscene. Obscene. No-one begrudges successful high achievers their bundle of earned loot. But to double your accumulated remuneration in a year or so – from $10 to $20m, effectively on the mere strength of bookkeeping? Alberici’s precise point in contextualising this directly alongside sustained stagnant wage growth for workers is absolutely central to the extant debate about the alleged ‘trickle down’ claims being made in support of tax cuts. It does NOT trickle down. Manifestly, as the union rep says: it trickles up. That’s not a ‘gratuitous’ point to make, BK. Nor is it the ‘politics of envy’.

    It’s hard reportage fact. And it drives right to the political, economic and electoral core of the tax cut discussion.

    That Malcolm ‘Morals Head Boy’ Turnbull would strip this superb piece of hard journalism from the ABC public record reveals everything you need to know about the self-serving viciousness of the ‘morality’ that glints beneath that piously projected prefect’s facade.

    Kudos to Alberici for a cracker bit of work, and onya for giving it further legs, BK.

    OK. Back to Barnaby’s Willy, everyone. Nothing to see here, is there…

    1. zut alors

      Even Joyce himself didn’t deny the facts. However, he felt compelled to explain how Qantas pays airport tax, GST & payroll tax along with one or two other taxes.

      But, as the Alberici piece stated correctly, Qantas paid no corporate tax.

    2. IanG

      I agree Jack – Joyce gets $100,000 A DAY! And it is wrong to point this out? I don’t think so BK.

  9. paddy

    Excellent piece Bernard.
    Both the ABC and the AFR need a good slap in the chops for trying to squash and denigrate Emma’s article.
    Thank goodness the Streisand effect is alive and well.

  10. Persistently Baffled

    The question of shareholder dividends for those companies that have paid no tax is a matter of bafflement. Were the dividends fully franked? They usually are. So, where did that 30% (company tax, as I understand it) actually go? Not to the shareholders (although they’d have claimed a franking credit for their tax). Not to the government. Back of the couch?

    If I’ve got the wrong end of the stick on this, please educate me.

    1. Arky

      If the company has not paid tax then there is no franking credit on the dividends.
      This is why fiddling with company tax in a system with dividend imputation is not what it is cracked up to be. You’re just shifting where the tax ends up being paid, although of course only to the extent company earnings are paid out as dividends to Australian shareholders. There’s a reason why people make the point that the biggest winner of Turnbull’s company tax cuts are foreign shareholders who aren’t subject to Australian tax on their dividends.

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