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Issue #1690      June 24, 2015


On July 1 the Senate committee will call pharmaceutical companies and their representatives to a public hearing of tax avoidance inquiry. The top five pharmaceutical companies receive a lot of money from the government through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) – in total $2.8 billion in public money. Their total Australian sales were $4.8 billion and they paid $53 million in tax between them – that is about 1c in tax for every dollar earned in Australia. These companies use tax havens for tax avoidance in the same way tech multinationals Apple, Google and Microsoft do. In 2013, the same pharmaceutical companies paid only $47.5 million in tax. Canberra-based Medicines Australia, peak body of pharmaceutical companies, could not comment on individual tax cases but said its members provided a lot of jobs and made big investments in development and research. That may be true but proper taxes should be paid as well.

Powerhouse Museum continues to be under threat of being relocated to Greater Western Sydney. The official line is that the new dynamic suburb will benefit from an outstanding addition that the museum will provide. More cynical voices justly point out the present location of the Powerhouse Museum that would be a goldmine for property developers. Queen Victoria Building was very nearly demolished before it was restored to its present glory. The Regent Theatre was not so lucky and was demolished. The sensible decision would be to leave the Museum where it is and build a new one where it is needed in Greater Sydney. There are many exhibits in storage at the moment and a brand-new building would be a proper place for them. Hands off Powerhouse Museum!

If it is such a good thing, why spend so much money advertising it? That’s the first thing that comes to mind on hearing that the Abbott government plans to spend the equivalent of $22,000 a day over two years to advertise its “Jobs for Families” package, the new childcare assistance package. The government is struggling to get support for the package because it is linked to family tax benefit cuts that Labor, Greens and some crossbenchers oppose. “It’s outrageous that Scott Morrison [Social Services Minister] would be launching and advertising campaign before coming clean with the details of his package,” said Labor families spokeswoman Jenny Macklin… Instead of launching an advertising campaign, Scott Morrison should be explaining to Australian families who will be worse off under his plans for childcare. How many families are going to lose access to childcare altogether?”

Next article – Region Briefs

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