Australian news, and some related international items

BHP under fire for artificial tax avoidance

McGeoch slams BHP over tax   Glenda Korporaal – The Australian, 15 July 15 Sydney company director Rod McGeoch has hit out at BHP ­Billiton for using a Singapore company to structure its tax ­arrangements and called for major Australian companies to drop artificial tax avoidance structures.

In an interview with The ­Australian, Mr McGeoch, who is a director of Ramsay Health Care and led the Sydney bid for the 2000 Olympics, said directors on the boards of major companies should hold themselves to higher standards than just maximising profits for shareholders………

He said company directors who felt their main duty was just “wealth maximisation” for ­shareholders were “heading for trouble”.

Mining companies, including BHP Billiton, have recently come under focus for the use of so-called offshore marketing hubs.

“When you are taking minerals out of the ground and putting them on a ship and sending them to China, to suggest that there is a transaction going through Singapore, that is not artificial.

“I am sure they (BHP) do have an office in Singapore but the truth of the matter is that the ore is going from Australia to China. We can all create a series of transactions that Singapore buys the ore (from Australia) and Singapore sells it (to China), but, really, does any person in China really think this stuff comes from ­Singapore?” Mr McGeoch said……..

Mr McGeoch’s comments come in the wake of recent appearances by BHP and other mining executives before the Senate inquiry into corporate tax minimisation. During the inquiry, BHP confirmed it was in a dispute worth more than $500 million with the Australian Taxation ­Office relating to its Singapore marketing operations………

July 15, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business | 1 Comment

More reactions by Australian States to Tony Abbott’s latest onslaught against wind and solar energy

exclamation-Wind farm project chief disappointed by ‘constant vitriol’
PROPONENTS of a $200 million wind farm on the West Coast have hit out at Federal Government attacks on the industry.

Central west NSW renewable energy companies unfazed by CEFC changes
Renewable energy companies say they are unfazed by moves to change the Clean Energy Finance Corporation’s investment mandate

Tasmania still supports wind energy, minister says
Energy Minister Matthew Groom insists the Tasmanian Government still supports renewable energy development, despite the Federal Government’s wind energy stance.

July 15, 2015 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

The hypocrisy of Abbott and Shorten in the constitutional “recognition” for Aborigines

On July 1, just days before the Kirribilli gathering, the Abbott government cut off funding for the Aboriginal Medical Service at Mount Druitt in western Sydney, cutting adrift its 11,000 active patients and 96 doctors, nurses and other staff.

Since the 2014 federal budget, the Abbott government has stripped $600 million in funding from indigenous community organisations, including health, legal and language support services. It has also driven, via funding cuts, moves to shut down hundreds of remote settlements in Western Australia and elsewhere, forcing their residents off traditional lands.

Despite the hype, no concrete proposals emerged from Monday’s gathering

Australia: The political fraud of constitutional “recognition” for Aborigines, World Socialist Website  By Mike Head  8 July 2015 A hand-picked group of 40 indigenous officials and academics joined Prime Minister Tony Abbott and opposition Labor Party leader Bill Shorten in Sydney on Monday for what was billed by the establishment media as an “historic summit” to discuss a proposed referendum to “recognise” indigenous people in the Australian Constitution.

The contrived event, staged at Kirribilli on Sydney Harbour, one of the city’s most affluent neighbourhoods, exposed the widening social and economic gulf between these privileged layers and the vast majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, who live in poverty-stricken working class suburbs, rural towns and remote settlements……. Continue reading

July 15, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

Some more reactions to Tony Abbott’s latest attack on wind and solar industries

‘Wild and wacky’ – government changes tune on Clean Energy Finance Corporation
An Abbott government push for the nation’s green bank to fund only fledgling clean energy technology has been questioned after it emerged Trade Minister Andrew Robb once appeared to describe such projects as “wild and wacky”

The Battle For The CEFC – More Reactions
The Abbott Government’s directive for the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to stop funding wind energy and some solar projects has captured attention around the world.

Ben Eltham: Clean Energy Sacrificed To Keep Abbott’s Hardline Backers Happy
The clampdown on the Clean Energy Finance Corporation is about ideology and loyalty.

July 15, 2015 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Australia being dragged back into the past, with Tony Abbott’s attack on renewable energy

Tony Abbott accused of ‘dragging Australia back’ as renewables directive revealed,  JULY 13, 2015 PRIME Minister Tony Abbott is being accused of “dragging Australia back” when it comes to investment in renewables after a decision to exclude solar panels and wind farms from funding.

A new government directive is expected to stop Australia’s “green bank”, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, from investing in wind and rooftop solar because the federal government does not consider them emerging technologies.

Up until now, small-scale solar reportedly made up about 30 per cent of the projects the CEFC was investing in.

Climate Council chief executive Amanda McKenzie said the changes could impact on those households wanting to buy solar panels.“Unfortunately for households, solar has been enormously popular, so this could have a big impact on that,” Ms McKenzie told

Opposition environment spokesman Mark Butler said the CEFC was being set up to fail.

“The government is effectively bloodletting the CEFC since its attempts to abolish it have been fruitless,” Mr Butler said in a statement today.

The Coalition has already tried twice to axe the $10 billion fund, which actually makes a profit for the government, but failed to get the legislation passed.

“When will he (Mr Abbott) understand the global momentum is outpacing him and he is dragging Australia back?” Mr Butler said.

The latest report follows comments from Mr Abbott earlier this year that wind farms were “visually awful”.

It also seems at odds with sentiment around the world, with many countries stepping up action on climate change including the United States, European Union and China, which have all revealed ambitious greenhouse gas emissions ahead of the Paris climate change talks to be held later this year. Even oil-rich Saudi Arabia, which offers some of the world’s cheapest electricity, is investing in renewables.

Australia has yet to reveal its own carbon reduction targets and last month was described as going from “leadership to free-rider status” on climate action by former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan…………. 

July 15, 2015 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

AS coal industry winds down, we need to respond with renewable energy

The transition from fossil to renewable energy  The Fifth Estate, Graham Davies, Engineers Australia | 13 July 2015 The announcement of the closure of two Alinta coal power stations at Port Augusta in South Australia is an indicator of just how fast the energy industry can move, and how quickly we need to respond to change.

No one could have predicted these power stations closing for economic reasons (sans carbon price) when the National Electricity Market was established some 16 years ago. These closures are somewhat of a surprise given the removal of the carbon price and Alinta’s recent statements about extending the life of the power station and coal mine at Leigh Creek in South Australia to 2030.

While many view the closure of the coal fired power plants as yet another economic blow to South Australia – and indeed our thoughts go out to those individuals who depend on the power stations for their livelihoods – others will see this as an opportunity to further develop the renewable energy industry. South Australia already leads the way on renewable energy generation and the closure of a polluting “base load” power station reinforces the inevitable move towards a distributed energy system based on a range of renewable technologies.

The increasing costs associated with energy that pollutes, produces waste and degrades the environment means the costs of non-renewables will continually rise. It is only a matter of time before a price is reintroduced on CO2, followed by other externalities including health costs, land rehabilitation, waterway clean-up and biodiversity loss. Other states will soon have their share of turmoil with the value of coal declining while the costs associated with coal increase. The question is, will the other states learn from this closure and start planning for transitions of their own?

Australia needs to acknowledge the challenges ahead for our energy industry in order to successfully manage this transformation without sudden surprises such as those at Port Augusta, and the associated social consequences………..

July 15, 2015 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Tony Abbott sabotages thousands of Australian jobs by ending wind and solar investment

green-collarRenewable energy investment: Government ‘sabotages’ thousands of jobs as it ends wind, solar power investment, Australian Solar Council warns, ABC News  By Katri Uibu 13 July 15 Thousands of Australians could lose their jobs because of the Federal Government’s latest “ideology-driven” decision not to invest in wind and small solar power projects, the head of the Australian Solar Council (ASC) says.

The Federal Government has ordered the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) to stop financing wind and household solar energy and instead invest in “new and emerging technologies”.

But ASC chief executive John Grimes said small business owners would be most affected by the change, saying the “tragic” decision would compromise thousands of jobs.

“There are about 18,000 people in Australia directly employed in the solar industry,” he said.

“These are the jobs of rural and regional Australia and these are the jobs that we want to create. So, the Government is sabotaging the whole industry because of its ideology that we should burn more coal and we need to shut down the renewable sector.”

Mr Grimes said the Government was “completely out of touch with the people of Australia” on the issue and vowed to “campaign hard” for policy change.

Small-scale solar energy installers labelled the Government’s policy a “stupid” decision that was causing them to “move out of the solar industry”.

Installing solar panels has been Richard de Bruin’s livelihood for five years.

Because of the Government’s decision, Mr de Bruin — the owner of R&R Solar Installations — is facing an even “bigger drop” in his revenue. It is a predicament that has forced him to explore alternative business ideas and axe the job of his own son.

“The uncertainty that we’ve had for the last six to 12 months has just really hurt the business to the effect that now we’re moving to a new site, trying to find some more work,” he said……….

Policy change ‘stupidest thing’ Government could have done

Craig Balmanno, owner of Free Solar & Solar Farmers, said while his business was not exposed to solar energy funding cuts, the decision was destructive for the industry.

“Up till now the CEFC hasn’t provided any funding to our business,” he said.

“CEFC has funded larger organisations and now, before the CEFC has a chance to fund the smaller ones, the Government’s going to cut them off.

“It is a bad cut for the renewable energy industry as a whole, but for one particular company, in our circumstances, it’s not going to affect us in a huge way.”

He found the Government’s policy to stop investing in a system “that is making money” incomprehensible and named it “the stupidest thing they could have ever done”.

“They are worried about renewables removing revenue from the fossil fuel industry and tax receipts from the fossil fuel industry,” he said.

“As far as a finance corporation, it’s [the CEFC] an organisation that’s actually making money for them.

“Why would they want to cut back on how it’s investing and try and limit its investments only to emerging technologies?”

July 15, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, solar, wind | Leave a comment