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January, 2019

Pink ball won’t cost Rogers his Test spot

Cricket Australia has stressed their early-season pink ball trial won’t end under-pressure opener Chris Rogers’ Test career.

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The colour-blind Rogers has withdrawn from Victoria’s day-night Sheffield Shield clash against Tasmania, starting on Friday afternoon, due to his difficulties in sighting the pink ball.

Coming off a disappointing series against Pakistan, the 37-year-old’s position is under threat and his four-day absence won’t help in holding off top-order challenges from Phil Hughes and Shane Watson.

But CA team performance manager Pat Howard insists the left-hander’s withdrawal won’t be a major factor in selection for the first Test against India, starting December 5 in Brisbane.

“The selectors have reiterated that no player is judged on one match,” Howard said.

“The four-man selection panel rate players on their consistency over a period of time and particularly their ability to perform in pressure situations.”

Rogers – who averages 36.06 in 16 Tests, and 33.25 this year – has also denied his rest should affect his selection chances, especially following a big season of English county cricket for Middlesex.

“I’ve played more first-class cricket than just about anyone in the world this year, so I don’t think sitting out one match for Victoria will affect me too much,” he said.

CA has pushed ahead with pink ball trials as they aim to stage a proposed day-night Test match against New Zealand in Adelaide next summer.

But Victorian coach Greg Shipperd has argued CA should have waited until later in the season to unleash what they view as an improved pink ball in Shield cricket.

The new Kookaburra ball, which has green stitching on the seam instead of white, also appears quite different to the pink Duke that Rogers faced in Abu Dhabi four years ago.

Rogers, who had lodged his concerns with a sympathetic Howard, would only have had one training session facing the new ball.

He understood the trials were being conducted for the future of Test cricket and acknowledged it was important to make the ball more visible.

“I just haven’t had the opportunity to practice with (the new Kookaburra ball) because I’ve been playing so much,” he said.

“Given my last experience with day-night first-class cricket four years ago had its challenges for me, there are still a lot of unknowns and doubt about it from my perspective, so I’ve decided to sit this one out.”

ICC will not take action over Gaza flotilla raid

(Transcript from SBS World News Radio)

The United Nations backed International Criminal Court says it will not take action over Israel’s deadly raid on a flotilla bound for Gaza in 2010.

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It comes as Israel faces strained diplomatic relations with Turkey and other neigbours over recent unrest in Jerusalem.

Brianna Roberts reports.

(Click on the audio tab above to hear the full report)

Before dawn on the 31st of May, 2010, Israeli soldiers boarded the Turkish-owned ship Mavi Marmara in international waters off the coast of Israel.

The ship was part of a flotilla called the “Gaza Freedom Flotilla” which was trying to deliver aid to Gaza in breach of an Israeli blockade on the territory.

10 Israeli soldiers were injured in the ensuing chaos, and 10 Turkish nationals died.

The International Criminal Court had been examining whether the actions amounted to war crimes.

ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda says even though war crimes may have been committed, they were not “grave enough” to merit a prosecution.

“These alleged crimes include notably wilful killing, wilfully causing serious injury to body and health and committing outrages upon personal dignity. However, after carefully assessing all relevant considerations, I concluded that the potential case, or cases, likely arising from an investigation into this incident would not be of sufficient gravity to justify further action by the court.”

Israel’s Foreign Ministry says it regrets that the ICC’s time had been wasted on what Isreal says was a politically motivated complaint.

The Ministry released a statement saying the incident had been examined prevously by an Israeli investigation and the UN.

It said:

“Israel believes that it was pointless to initiate a preliminary inquiry in the first place, and regrets that the resources and precious time of the court – an institution established to combat the world’s worst atrocities – were allocated to an unfounded and politically motivated legal complaint.”

The UN ruled that Israel’s decision to board the vessels with such force was “excessive.”

But, it said Israeli forces “faced significant, organised and violent resistance” from a group of passengers which required them to use force for their own protection.

The ruling comes amid strained relations between Turkey and Israel.

As the ICC announced its decision, Turkey issued a stern warning to Israel over its actions at Holy sites in Jersalem.

Tensions over a compound, which is a holy site in both Islam and Judaism, have fueled daily clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinians in Jerusalem in recent weeks.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has condemned a raid by Israeli forces on the compound, which houses the al Aqsa mosque.

“(The) Israeli administration’s attempt is barbaric, villainous and unforgivable. We cannot remain silent in the face of these developments. We have to take every measure that is necessary within the international framework.”

Relations between Turkey and Israel has deteriorated sharply in recent years.

Last year Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu attemped to repair diplomatic relations, apologising for the 2010 flotilla raid.

Reconcilliation appears to be now a distant hope for the two countries, which were once regional allies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Health, education and transport key issues in Victorian poll

Health, education and public transport rank as some of the key issues facing Victorian voters in this month’s state election.

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Opinion polls are pointing to a victory by the Labor opposition led by Daniel Andrews, with a recent Newspoll giving the ALP an eight point lead over the Coalition.

Victoria’s Premier Denis Napthine says the state election is all about trust and Victorian voters shouldn’t trust the Labor opposition to manage the state’s economy, which he says is in great shape.

“The best example of the work of the coalition is the budget repair, which now has the Victorian budget the envy of every other state and territory. A Triple A budget with surpluses now and every year of the forward estimates. We are the only state or territory who has that economic strength, that economic firepower which underpins our ability to deliver the services people need, the hospitals people need, the schools that people need, the community safety that people need and the care and support for those families and individuals at risk.”

What Doctor Napthine didn’t highlight was the fact that Victoria’s unemployment rate is now the highest on the mainland.

Opposition leader Daniel Andrews, who the pollsters say is headed for a comfortable victory, says higher unemployment, health and education are key election issues.

“Our hospitals are full, we have to find and re-open the beds the Liberals have closed. I’ll be focused on schools because our buildings are falling down, I’ll be focused on TAFE, because I want today’s students to be able to be tomorrow’s workers to get the skills they need for the job that they want, that’s what is most important. I’m going to be focusing on delivering every signal part of our comprehensive plan for jobs, our back to work plan because we can’t settle as a state for the highest unemployment rate on the mainland and we certainly can’t settle for the fact that there are today 62 thousand extra Victorians on the unemployment queue compared to the number four years ago.”

Both leaders say they’re committed to improving public transport with the Coalition saying it’s delivered 10 thousand more tram, train and bus services each week.

But political researcher Doctor Dustin Halse from Swinburne University says the economy is the most significant issue.

“We’re seeing (Daniel) Andrews trying to cut through on health, the Labor party talking about investment in the health system. We’re seeing transport as a significant issue and we’re seeing both leaders spruiking their transport policies. But like all elections, the biggest issue is always the economy and then we talk about health care and education. The Labor party is positioned well because I think that people are increasingly worried about the status of public health and public education.”

If the Coalition does lose, it will become the first single term government in Victoria since 1955.

One of the major challenges has been the behaviour of the Member for Frankston, Geoff Shaw who had a spectacular falling out with the Liberal party.

Mr Shaw resigned from the party in March 2013 over the misuse of an electorate car and became an independent.

His resignation also played a role in Denis Napthine replacing Ted Baillieu as Premier just days later.

Geoff Shaw now holds the balance of power in Victoria and is an outspoken critic on his former party and its leadership.

Dustin Halse from Swinburne says this political instability is largely to blame for the Coalition trailing in the polls.

“You factor in two premiers, you factor in the situation of Geoff Shaw in Frankston. I think that commentary of instability is significant and will be a significant factor in this election”

Dustin Halse is among the pundits predicting a Labor victory on November 29.

“I would be very surprised if the Labor party do not win and the Coalition really has to pull a rabbit out of the hat, we’ve got a parliament decided by a single seat effectively. It looks like four or five of those marginal seats that the Liberal party hold at present will fall to the Labor party and they should have a relatively comfortable majority so that would be my prediction at this stage but hey it’s politics, anything can happen.”

 

 

Langer sad to see Marsh miss WA clash

Western Australia coach Justin Langer couldn’t help but feel a tad frustrated on Friday as he watched a fit-and-firing Mitchell Marsh steam in to bowl at training.

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Marsh was one of the very few positives to come out of Australia’s disastrous 2-0 Test series loss to Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates, with the 23-year-old showcasing his potential with scores of 87 and 47 in the second Test.

The West Australian arrived back in Perth earlier this week and looked sharp while bowling to his Warriors’ teammates at training on Friday.

But that’s of little consolation to Langer, who will have to do without Marsh and star allrounder Nathan Coulter-Nile for the day-night Sheffield Shield clash with Queensland at the WACA, starting on Saturday.

Both players have been ordered to rest ahead of Australia’s five-match one-day series against South Africa, their absence robbing WA of vital firepower with both bat and ball.

“It’s frustrating for everyone, but we also know it’s a long summer,” a diplomatic Langer said.

“We’ve seen it throughout our Champions League, through the whole one-day tournament – trying to manage your bowlers and keep them fresh, knowing what’s coming up, is a real managerial nightmare.

“So I can understand why they’re not playing this game.”

Ashton Turner has replaced Coulter-Nile in WA’s 12-man squad, while Queensland have recalled batsman Greg Moller and allrounder Michael Neser to replace Ryan Le Roux and Ben McDermott.

WA struggled badly with the bat in last summer’s day-night Shield clash against Queensland, with the Warriors skittled for 175 and 144 in their two innings.

Langer knows batting against the experimental pink ball under lights can be tough, but he hopes his players won’t be too daunted by the task.

“Last year, we put a lot of effort, emphasis and thinking into it, and maybe that distracted us a bit,” Langer said.

“So we’re going to keep to our processes and realise it’s just a different colour.”

Cricket Australia hopes to pioneer a day-night Test match by as early as next summer, and Langer feels a white ball might be a better answer than the pink, which becomes hard to see under lights.

Western Australia: Adam Voges (capt), Shaun Marsh, Ashton Agar, Cameron Bancroft, Jason Behrendorff, Marcus Harris, Michael Hogan, Michael Klinger, Simon Mackin, Nathan Rimmington, Ashton Turner, Sam Whiteman.

Queensland: James Hopes (capt), Joe Burns, Luke Feldman, Jason Floros, Peter Forrest, Peter George, Chris Hartley, Marnus Labuschagne, Alister McDermott, Greg Moller, Michael Neser, Nicholas Stevens.

Brisbane set to go into lockdown for G20

Authorities say they are prepared for every contingency, including violent protests on the streets of Brisbane, as they prepare to lock down the G20 host city as part of an unprecedented security operation.

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Military-style checkpoints will be set up and 6000 police deployed around Brisbane to help secure the summit and the world’s most powerful leaders, while access to large parts of the Queensland capital will be restricted.

The massive $100 million security operation will include 900 soldiers stationed around the city, some using under-car camera, mobile X-rays and explosive detection equipment, and another 1000 on stand-by.

Police have been given extra search powers for the duration of the event.

The summit, which involves the leaders of world’s 20 biggest economies, comes in the wake of the terror alert being raised amid fears of an attack because of the number of Australians “fighting with and supporting” terrorist groups in the Middle East.

Authorities are concerned too about the risk of violence from protest groups, and have been working with known groups for 18 months in a bid to avoid a repeat of past G20 when streets erupted into riot.

In 2010, at the G20 summit in Toronto, Canada, demonstrators associated with the Black Bloc movement set police cars alight and smashed bank windows.

A spokesperson for the Queensland Police said authorities had been working for 18 months to ensure the city was secure.

“The service will facilitate peaceful and lawful protests in the lead-up to and during the G20 Leaders’ Summit, and we have been liaising with groups to ensure they can achieve their desired protest outcome in a safe way that does not disrupt the security arrangements …,” the spokesperson told AAP.

“The Queensland Police Service is not anticipating any violent protests to occur during the G20 period, however we are prepared for every contingency, should they arise.”

Professor Clive Williams, a former director of security intelligence with the Australian Defence Force and an expert on terrorism, says it’s “issue motivated groups” that are the concern.

“I think the terrorism threat is probably less likely,” Prof Williams said.

“It’s pretty unusual because security is usually high and it doesn’t tend to attract those types of people. There are lots of easier targets around the place.”

Prof Williams said “fixated individuals” are also a category of concern, pointing to when student David Kang in 1994 rushed a stage at Darling Harbour in Sydney and fired two blanks from a starter’s pistol at Prince Charles.

“They’re lone-wolf actors. But they can also be a nuisance when they have an issue they want to promote,” Prof Williams said.

Authorities have also downplayed the possibility of financial institutions being targeted, as has been the case at previous G20s.

Deputy Police Commissioner Ross Barnett has said there was no credible threat of attacks on financial institutions or their staff.

“There had been general postings on social media by unidentified people targeting the theme of capitalism and greed in G20 nations,” he said.

Police, protesters talk down prospect of violence at G20

Head coverings, strip searches authorised under G20 police powers

Authorities say G20 opponents have been co-operating well, while some protest organisers say trouble could just as well be started by overzealous policing.

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Six-thousand police and soldiers will secure Brisbane in Australia’s largest peace-time security operation.

Large parts of Brisbane’s CBD will be locked down in the lead-up and during the summit.

“I’m concerned that the media and the state continuously attempt to represent any people who are raising their voices or concerned about what’s happening in the G20 meeting as potentially violent protestors,” said Robin Taubenfeld, spokeswoman for the Brisbane Community Action Network, also known as BrisCan-G20.

“We see a broad range of community activities in the week leading up to the G20 including pray vigils, street theatre, mock tax havens, forums, symposiums, musical events. Our community is diverse and very creative.”

Queensland police negotiators have been liaising for up to 18 months with the 26 register protest groups.

“The one thing I can comment on is every single group I’ve dealt with so far are genuine, decent people who have an expectation they will be allowed to exercise their right to protest lawfully,” said inspector Tony Montgomery-Clarke.

“The Queensland Police Service will do absolutely do everything we can to facilitate that. As to whether there will be violence or not, I certainly hope not, and that’s why we’re here talking to the groups.”

Police expect about 2,000 protestors, though admit that is only a rough estimate.

They include a diverse range of interest groups.

“The leaders of the 20 largest economies are gathering in Brisbane to further an economic agenda which creates disparity between the rich and the poor, perpetuates ecological destruction, is based on a system of injustice, colonisation, and really what they’re doing is not in the interest of the greater good of humanity,” said Robin Taubenfeld from BrisCan-G20.

Police expect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to make up the largest group of demonstrators.

“There’ll be marches for black deaths in custody, there’ll be marches for the continuing stolen generation, against mining companies destroying our land,” Boe Spearim from the Brisbane Aboriginal Tent Embassy said.

They will also be joined by anti-Putin protestors.

“We will have a lot of Australians there from a Ukrainian background, we’ll be seeing friends from the Georgian community, Baltic community, Polish community and (also) gay community concerned for example by Mr Putin’s homophobia,” Pete Shmigel, spokesman for the Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organisations. told SBS.

A rhetorical threat of violence did come from an unexpected quarter when Prime Minister Tony Abbott threatened to “shirt-front” Russian president Vladimir Putin.

The Ukrainian community says their protests will be a dignified.

“We try to embody the values we are talking about. This protest is about saying democratic values are more important that dictatorships, so it behoves us to behave in a very good, civil and democratic way,” Mr Shmigel said.

Fear of a repeat of mass violence like at G20 in Toronto or death of a by-stander at the hands of police, like at G20 in London, are low.

The largest protest is expected on Saturday 15 November including a march to Musgrave Park.

The park is a traditional rallying point for protests against international events like the 1982 Commonwealth Games and Expo 88 and lies just a few hundred meters from the Brisbane Convention Centre, where the world leaders will meet.

Last year’s police eviction of the Aboriginal tent embassy from the park is seen by some as a sign of where the trouble could come from.

“Most likely the police, their gearing up, they’re gearing up for violence, you know, when you look at a police officer, they’re prepared for violence,” said Boe Spearim.

Inspector Tony Montgomery-Clarke said police respect the right of people to protest.

“Come along and exercise your legal right to protest, that’s not a problem at all, the Queensland Police Service welcomes it. All that we ask is that you respect others and behave in a reasonable manner,” he said.

One anonymous website calling itself Plan B suggests people take violent actions away from the main venue.

Queensland police will not comment on if they have identified the author of the site.

“I’m not going to go into details about our intelligence and the information that we do have but you can expect that police do an awful amount of investigative work if we have threats like that from any group,” said Katarina Carroll, Queensland Police Assistant Commissioner responsible for G20.

So far authorities have only banned two people from Brisbane during the G20 next week.

Time for change is now, says IOC boss

Olympics chief Thomas Bach has urged delegates to approve a wide-ranging revamp of the Games, likely to include a shake-up of the sports contested and a new TV channel.

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Bach was addressing about 1,000 representatives at the Association of National Olympic Committees general assembly (ANOC) in Bangkok, ahead of the release of 40 proposals which will be voted on next month.

“The time for change is now. It is not the time to start the discussion again and again,” the International Olympic Committee president said.

“We have been discussing for one year … now is the time for agreeing on something.”

IOC delegates will learn the full detail of the proposals in two days and they will be published next week, before being put to a vote at the IOC’s extraordinary session in Monaco on December 8.

“We have to take this opportunity now to drive these changes. Now we are sitting in the driver’s seat of the bus,” said Bach.

“If we don’t make these changes now, others will drive this bus and we will have to sit on the back seat of the bus and have to hope that the driver is going in the right direction.”

Measures under discussion include a year-round digital TV channel and an end to the limit on the number of sports contested, with host cities also able to propose sports.

Hosting bids will have to focus on the event’s legacy to each city. The revamp is also aimed at putting the focus on athletes and youth, and improving the IOC’s organisation and structure.

Bach said the time was ripe for a makeover after successful Games at London and Sochi.

“The reason to change is because we are successful, because if you don’t change when you are successful, the time will come and will come very fast when you are forced to change,” he said.

“We can already see some challenges on the horizon… if we miss this opportunity, then the window of opportunity will be closed.”

The environment movement shouldn’t have supported Direct Action

The Government鈥檚 Direct Action legislation passed through Parliament last week, with the Government receiving support from the Palmer United Party and Independent Nick Xenephon.

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Even with the concessions given during the negotiations, Direct Action is still likely to be a disaster. It is an expensive and ineffective policy that will cost billions of dollars with little to no environmental gain.

Despite this however some of the weirdest supporters of the bill have come through the environment movement. Key figures within the movement have played a crucial role in negotiating the passage of the legislation – forming unique alliances with The Palmer United Party in particular to see Direct Action become law. For many other organisations and progressive academics, the critique of last week鈥檚 deal has been muted, with a positive focus on the Government鈥檚 concession to hold an inquiry into international emissions trading schemes – an inquiry that will likely lead to nowhere.

These environmentalists argue that while Direct Action is weak, in the current political climate it is an important step. It is crucial, they say, that Australia has a 鈥榥ational policy鈥?on climate change, and as Clive Palmer argued, even though Direct Action wont work, something is better than nothing. For others, the establishment of the enquiry into emissions trading is a key victory – an opportunity for Australia to once again reach 鈥榗onsensus鈥?/a> on the importance of the price on pollution. This is an important incremental step.

These arguments are symptomatic of serious failures within parts of the environment movement – failures that are becoming extremely dangerous as our planet continues to warm.

From its early activist roots over recent decades much of the environment movement has become caught by insider politics. Some of the largest, and importantly best funded environmental NGOs, have moved from the streets to the halls of Parliament – 鈥淣GOs have abandoned activism for the techniques of lobbying and media management and are now dominated by people with lobbying and media skills.鈥?/a>

“The time is now for the environment movement to leave the board rooms and halls of Parliament and to head back to the streets.”

This became the norm in particular during the recent ALP Governments, where after years of campaigning against the Howard Government the movement shifted to Parliament to negotiate the terms of an emissions trading scheme. Many rightfully criticised this tactic, seeing the lack of campaigning that came with it as being behind many of the ALP鈥檚 failures on climate change. With the election of the Abbott Government this process has continued. Backroom tactics  drove Al Gore to stand next to Clive Palmer in a press conference earlier this year, and has now led to some environmentalists lining up to support Direct Action. 

While in some areas these sorts of tactics can be useful, when it comes to climate change that time has long past. Insider politics is inherently limiting – a game defined by the rules of those who run the system. It limits the opportunities for progress – narrowing a movement to what is seen as possible within the confines of the system. As Guy Pearse argues, this is where the environment movement has headed:

鈥淩ather than asking 鈥榃hat needs to be done?鈥? they鈥檙e (the climate movement) asking 鈥榃hat鈥檚 possible soon, given the lie of the land?鈥欌€?/a>

With the 鈥榣ie of the land鈥?in our political system being dominated by the interests of the fossil fuel industry, 鈥榳hat鈥檚 possible鈥?now means negotiating with a mining billionaire to give out billions of dollars to the fossil fuel industry to effectively do nothing. That is the best our system will allow, and the best sort of outcome a focus on insider politics will give us.

Unfortunately we have long passed the time where that is enough. As Clive Hamilton argues – 鈥?a href=”南宁桑拿网,clivehamilton南宁桑拿会所,/is-environmentalism-failing/#sthash.QGFmNBfx.dpuf”>in the case of climate change gradualism is fatal鈥? Climate change requires something much bigger- a complete rethink of how our our energy system, society and economy operates. This is something most environmental campaigners will admit – even as they negotiate incremental outcomes such as the passage of Direct Action. Our actions have become deeply disconnected from our beliefs.

Here is the biggest failing of all – because this is the best time for us to achieve that shift. As Tony Abbott highlights the very depths of destruction of our current system – as he promotes how 鈥渃oal is good for humanity鈥?/a> – we have the best opportunity possible to reframe the debate. As Abbott cosies up to the fossil fuel industry more closely every day we could highlights the depths of the destruction of our current system 鈥?setting ourselves up for the massive shift required in the near future.

This means building a movement from the ground up – one that changes the fundamental ideas of what is possible when it comes to climate action – a movement that tackles the influence of the fossil fuel industry from the outside rather than trying to work with them from the inside. Negotiating over Direct Action is not the way to do this. Negotiating over almost anything with this Government is not the way to do this. Instead, through legitimising the way they operate, it actively hurts our attempts to do so.

The time is now for the environment movement to leave the board rooms and halls of Parliament and to head back to the streets. It is the only way we will see the shifts we need to secure a safe climate. 

Simon Copland is a freelance writer and climate campaigner. He is a regular columnist for the Sydney Star Observer and blogs at The Moonbat.

 

Senate urged to investigate Luxembourg tax deals

(Transcript from SBS World News Radio)

A global investigation into secret tax deals in Luxembourg has triggered an investigation by the Australian Tax Office, with the allegations likely to be considered by a senate inquiry.

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A six month investigation of 28,000 documents by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists found thousands of global firms, including Australian-based companies, have legally avoided tax using deals negotiated through Luxembourg.

The investigation also implicates the Australian government’s Future Fund.

Greg Dyett reports.

(Click on the audio tab above to hear the full report)

The largest ever leak of Luxembourg tax deals shows how Australian and international companies used a complex array of elaborate structures to cut their tax bills.

They did so by working with the global accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers which saw the deals struck with Luxembourg to shift profits and avoid tax.

PriceWaterhouseCoopers and officials in Luxembourg have defended the arrangements, saying they were perfectly lawful.

The Australian branch of the accounting firm released a statement saying it gave advice to all companies “in accordance with applicable local, European and international tax laws.”

And Luxembourg’s Finance Minister, Pierre Gramegna says the arrangements complied with the law.

“It is our opinion, and I think it is not even debated, that we have applied anticipative decisions ruling in such a way that they are compatible or in conformity with national and international law. So what has happened here is totally legal. So if something is totally legal, there is no reason to do any finger pin pointing.”

Journalist Gerard Ryle from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has told the BBC ordinary citizens who pay their taxes are getting increasingly frustrated with multinationals being able to dodge tax in this way.

“You and I, the average person, we pay taxes, we pay by the rules, but there are rules and they’re perfectly legal rules that you can apply to a big corporation to not pay taxes. (Interviewer) And yet governments say they’re going to crackdown on all of this. The British Finance Minister George Osborne has said next month he’ll unveil proposals to well effectively to stop global corporations diverting profits offshore. Do you think the net is tightening on this kind of activity? (Ryle) It’s certainly tightening but every time it tightens it gets more sophisticated and the companies are able to find new ways of doing it. But you know the issue really goes to the issue of fairness. I mean if these companies aren’t paying their fair share of taxes then you and I are paying more and I think that’s why it resonates with people, people are tired of watching this happening.”

The leak drew a prompt response from the European Commission.

The Commission’s Margaritis Schinas says it had already been investigating Luxembourg’s tax practices for multinational companies.

He says Luxembourg is just one country in the Commission’s sights.

“Luxembourg, France, Germany, Ireland, Malta, the Netherlands, UK – a long list of countries that we are investigating along these lines.”

Mark Zirnsak from the Tax Justice Network says that response sounds a little dismissive given the scale of what’s been revealed.

“Well it certainly doesn’t just apply to Luxembourg, that is definitely true and to a degree the European Commission has started to move on this but I think they need to be going much further and I think that the dismissive comment undermines the seriousness that they need to be treating this issue with.”eat

Mark Zirnsak says the fact that the Future Fund has been implicated in the leak should provide Australia’s parliamentarians with extra incentive to ensure the allegations are thoroughly investigated by the senate inquiry into corporate tax avoidance.

“The case put forward was that those in the executive arm weren’t aware of what the Future Fund was actually up to in relation to these alleged arrangements so I don’t believe what’s been revealed, the allegations revealed against the Future Fund should undermine our confidence that our parliamentarians are not going to treat this issue seriously and are not going to look at serious measures and in fact I hope it gives them more incentive to do so to actually demonstrate that they are absolutely committed to ensuring that there is a level playing field, that companies pay their tax where they are doing business and whether they will use created and that creates a level playing field.”

 

 

 

Abbott v Putin at Beijing trade summit

Tony Abbott is set to come face to face with Russian leader Vladimir Putin for the first time since the MH17 attack when he travels to China for trade talks next week.

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The prime minister will arrive in Beijing on Sunday night ahead of the annual APEC leaders’ summit.

It will mark the beginning of a whirlwind week of diplomacy for Mr Abbott, who will also visit Myanmar for Asian security talks before returning to Australia to host the G20 in Brisbane.

While much has been made of Mr Abbott’s plans to “shirt-front” the Russian president at the G20 over the downing of MH17, the pair will actually encounter each other first in Beijing.

It’s understood Mr Abbott is seeking a one-on-one meeting with Mr Putin on Monday, to reiterate his anger over the Russian-backed separatist missile attack that brought down the Malaysia Airlines flight in Ukraine. Thirty-eight Australians were among the 298 killed in the disaster.

It’s believed Mr Abbott wants to get the meeting out of the way so it doesn’t overshadow the economic focus of the G20.

If Mr Putin refuses the request for a formal meeting the pair will likely meet on APEC’s sidelines on Tuesday.

Mr Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov says there will be a meeting but he is not sure when or where.

“They will have an opportunity to have talks on the sidelines of one or another summit in any case,” he told the TASS news agency.

This year’s APEC is focused on advancing regional economic integration and infrastructure development.

Also high on Mr Abbott’s agenda will be advancing the long-awaited free trade agreement talks with China.

The prime minister hopes to finally seal the deal this month, following on from similar deals with Korea and Japan.

Australia is also set to sign a $1 billion live cattle deal with China.

But China may also want to talk about its new Asian Investment Infrastructure Bank – which could be awkward for Mr Abbott.

Last month, 20 countries joined with China to sign an agreement to set up the $54 billion body aimed at addressing a multi-billion-dollar funding gap for dams, ports, roads and other capital works across Asia.

But Australia, the US, Japan and Korea declined to be among the founders because of concerns the bank lacks the same levels of governance and accountability as bodies such as the World Bank.

The issue has reportedly split the federal cabinet: Treasurer Joe Hockey wanted to sign on to the bank but was overruled after Foreign Minister Julie Bishop raised national security concerns.

Mr Abbott will head to Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, on Wednesday for the ASEAN East Asia Summit.

He will return to Australia next Friday.

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