Thursday, April 27, 2006

Rumour has it that there's nothing more embarrassing than a sore loser. Barranquero has it in spades and is trying to cling to brick and mortar at 2 Market Street aka 239 Kent St like a drowning avocado grasps at straws. (Yee my virtual chinese comrade of chatswood fame ;-)

Always pretend to be stupid; then when you have to show yourself smart, the display has the addtional effect of surprise. When a situation is hopeless, never listen to counsels of hope. Fold the enterprise. If Chance ever got Herself called God, I should have been a very good Catholic indeed Taking the blame is a function of servants. When the orange is squeezed, throw it away

Nearly 20 years ago, when the tax department completed a secret investigation into a drug dealer who had evaded police for years, they hit him with a bill for $1,348,048.60. But instead of jail and certain financial ruin, the dealer was able to make a deal. Crime doesn't pay? At least it will pay tax now that the ATO is working with police to target the ill-gotten assets of major crime figures. In a crackdown flagged by Peter Costello in 2004 20 suspected underworld figures will be referred to the Tax Office each year A taxing strategy

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: Sovietologists: The "Mystery" of the Soviet Collapse
As we approach the fifteenth anniversary of the demise of the Soviet Union, its sudden collapse remains mysterious

The failure of U.S. Sovietologists to anticipate the Soviet collapse may in part be attributed to the "Cold War revisionism" and anti-anticommunism that tended to exaggerate the Soviet regime’s stability and legitimacy. Yet others who could hardly be considered "soft on communism" were also left feeling puzzled by its demise. George F. Kennan, an architect of U.S. strategy in the Cold War, confessed that in reviewing the entire "history of international affairs in the modern era" he found it "hard to think of any event more strange and startling, and at first glance inexplicable, than the sudden and total disintegration and disappearance. . .of the great power known successively as the Russian Empire and then the Soviet Union.

• Ethics is not a subject, it is a life put to the test in a thousand daily moments Every revolution is a surprise - Antony Loewenstein: Don't let any lobby shut down debate [The phrase is a spin doctor's concoction, intended to sound impressive but Flexibility of boiled frogs ; David Corn on how 2008 Looking Like 1968]
• · Underworld godfather Tony Mokbel would have lost his liberty this week - but he is not around to serve his jail term. John Silvester profiles the small man who wanted big things A rise of a drug lord ; The CRW (Crikey Revised Wealth) Rich List When you get the power, then you get the women
• · · Michelle Malkin: The arrest of Department of Homeland Security spokesman Brian J. Doyle on felony charges of sexually preying on a undercover cop posing as a 14-year-old girl this week is just the latest debacle for the bureaucratic behemoth THE FINE MESS AT DHS ; The Department of Homeland Security is moving ahead with its plan to change how it evaluates and pays employees, even as it tries to fend off unions in court. Homeland Security Pay Plan Goes Forward, but Unions Are Wary
• · · · Good Grief! National innovation systems: Finland, Sweden & Australia compared ; As part of a major overhaul of the Family Law Act, the federal government plans to spend $200 million establishing a network of Family Relationship Centres across the country Family relationship centres: why we don’t need them
• · · · · Since the kickback scandal involving Australian Wheat Board sales to Iraq was revealed last year, shareholders in AWB have seen their investment shrink by 41 percent AWB shares ; Another essay in The Fix series: Putting It Out There. “Among the changes that technology has given us, few may be as influential in the long-term as the irresistable movement forcing news organizations to open up. Putting It Out There
• · · · · · Created in 1970, the system of Senate estimates committees was intended as a more effective means for senators to put questions to ministers and public servants about government activities. Often a thorn in the side of government, the committees have played an important role in government accountability. Yet they would never have come into existence if the government of the day had controlled the Senate. And this, argues Harry Evans, Clerk of the Senate, is a reminder that we are in uncharted waters today. Estimates hearings and government control of the Senate ; As for my brother’s death in 1987, there were a number of factors behind the depression that drove him to end his own life. One of those was the gloom brought on by translating Kafka’s The Trial. Another reason was the effort it took him to write his last book, The Drowned and the Saved - it took everything out of him. The Machine Gun Under the Bed

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Yesterday looked like a quiet day in political circles until Treasurer Peter Costello strode forth mid-afternoon with his 400-page International Comparison of Australia's Taxes compiled under the gaze of business reps Dick Warburton and Peter Hendy. The press gallery scrambled to get the story of the day. Three minutes into Costello's address, Prime Minister John Howard sent out a press release, a three-liner saying he would be appearing today at the Cole inquiry into the oil-forfood scandal. Fatal distraction
As far as Peter Costello is concerned, Slovakia might be a nice place, but that doesn't mean Australia should copy its tax system. Releasing the international tax comparison report yesterday, the Treasurer played down any prospect of lowering Australia's 48.5per cent top personal tax rate to bring it into line with the 30 per cent corporate rate. Slovakian harmony jars with Treasurer

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: There's nothing fair in love and economy: How many bananas short of a republic?
Banana republic n. A small country that is economically dependent on a single export

The general consensus on globalization is that its benefits, great as they may be, are spread somewhat slowly and unevenly. Even the most passionate supporters of globalization concede that the transition to an open economy can be painful and that it should always be carefully managed.
The distribution of the fruits of globalization has much to do with the preexisting conditions of an economy, and of course, the first world once again has a significant advantage. For example, in societies that lack a transparent political process, a fair and efficient tax system, or a lagging education (among many other things), it is very possible that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Argentina, for instance, following some liberal economic reforms, saw a significant growth in employment thanks to the creation of "call centers." In order to be able to get such a job you have to be able to speak English fluently and be able to convince the person on the other end of the line that your name really is Buck and that you are based in Dallas. Needless to say, the poor need not apply.

• Young man from a marginal neighborhood Globalization of the criminal [Taxploitation edited by Peter Saunders: The system is riddled with distortions and disincentive effects. There are so many special allowances, exemptions, credits, offsets and write-offs that tax law has become almost indecipherable, and gross amounts of money and time get spent trying to reduce liability to tax. Rich in risk and reward: some good eggs among taxpayers although some are still rotten ; The Australian Financial Review --- Page:63. : 05-Apr-2006 Australia has a federalist system of government, set up under the constitution. The Australian Government, based in Canberra, deals with national issues, while the various state governments deal with schools, hospitals and similar services. Many critics argue that the Australian Government is starting to encroach on the states' territory. They call this "creeping centralism". One man's give is the other's take [A taxpayer-funded media war between the NSW and federal treasurers, costing hundreds of thousands of dollars, is being waged ironically over our taxes. State Treasurer Michael Costa, who will hand down his first Budget on May 30, yesterday began hostilities with an ad campaign attacking Federal Treasurer Peter Costello over the GST payments. Prime Minister John Howard is quoted as saying it is pie in the sky to imagine that with complicated business arrangements that you can have a Tax Act that thin - Like life, it's not easy - Pie in the sky? More like mud in his eye. National accountants unite ; Australians paid $278.5 billion in tax to all levels of government in 2004-05. The ABS found that the amount of tax paid by Australians increased 8.3 per cent over 2003-04, or more than $21 billion. Never say accountancy is boring. A passionate debate between theorists and pragmatists is threatening to derail a long-running project to harmonise the two sets of accounting rules for financial reporting by federal and state governments Accounting debate divides profession Study seeks ideas on tax compliance costs submissions can be made direct to Setting the tax agenda ; Single girls tax seduction Accountants are picked up as # 1 target of single women in Australia ]
• · Everyone deplores the income-tax system, but nobody does anything about them. Understanding is the key to realising potential. The Guardians of Complexity ; A look at why big business is as responsible for higher taxes as Ted Kennedy ... Ebenezer Scrooge is a byword in popular culture for meanness both temporal and spiritual. Yet according to a revisionist literary historian, the Scottish merchant who was the inspiration for the Charles Dickens character, Ebenezer Lennox Scroggie, was actually a generous and jovial man in 19th-century Edinburgh. Big business v. low taxes ; Money, Page 6 by Annette Sampson: It's not but along with the strategies in this week's cover story, changes to super have opened the door for more taxeffective life insurance for low income earners and non-working spouses. How to make life insurance tax-friendly ; Tanya Plibersek - It's strange tax system indeed that encourages traffic congestion and pollution and punishes the users of public transport. Our fringe benefits tax system does just that. The tax perk that gives cars a free ride ; It seems the OECD issued two quite different versions of its annual re-port on Taxing Wages last week. The version Peter Costello saw gave Aust-ralia a glowing rap, whereas the version seen by the Opposition and the media gave us a very ordinary mark. There's many a slip when politicians have 'tax' on their lips
• · · The Good - Vestas V90 3-megawatt wind turbines will be used for the first time in Italy First Allianz wind farm investment ; Explore the World of Allianz
• · · · The Bad Fiscal Apocalypse Now ; Enron and the fraud that changed everything
• · · · · Slavoj Zizek -In the last decade, Davos and Porto Alegre have emerged as the twin cities of globalization. The usual gang of suspects: Bill Gates and George Soros, the CEOs of Google, IBM, Intel, eBay, as well as court-philosophers like Thomas Friedman Another world is possible: The Liberal Communists of Porto Davos ; Fascism can be defeated by rational argument (that’s why fascists hate intellectuals), by genuine democracy (that’s why they despise civil libertarians), by legal principle (that’s why they criticise independent judges), and by international conventions (that’s why they fulminate about the United Nations). They claim they are defending our way of life, or our civilisation, even while they are undermining its fundamental principles. All civilisations have tried to raise people above fascism, but the fight has to be had over and over again A fascist Australia?
• · · · · · Insurance companies could face jail sentences and fines of up to $165,000 if they require customers to use preferred repairers, under a bill introduced to State Parliament by Member for Northern Tablelands Richard Torbay. Mr Torbay introduced the anti-steering bill into State Parliament on March 30, and said he had received strong support for the legislation from smash repairers across the State as well as industry groups like the Motor Traders Association. Torbay fights for drivers' right to choose repairers ; It is the greatest international scam in Australia's history. David Marr and Marian Wilkinson reveal the inside story on the wheat board kickbacks. Deceit by the truckload ; Each day this week we've been treated to another Dickensian tale from Australia's workplaces Amid apathy, a voice of sanity: What the Dickens will workers do?; Fear is probably the first human emotion that we experience and sadly, for some, if not many, it is also the last. Fear at work in the world

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

No more pussyfooting around executive sallaries It is not so much which robbery style I liked more as which thief I hated less. This is the day light robbery that does want to go away. I have heard different assertions from various sources however none have ever explained the difference between someone stealing millions and someone stealing a bread because he is hungry. For example, stealing is certainly an act that is societally reprehensible, and yet we cannot put highly paid executives who steal millions from their companies on the same moral ground as someone stealing food from a supermarket because he is hungry. By the same token, criminals surely need to be dealt with by society Sticks beat carrots: Last bus from Barrannquero Bay

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: Philanthropy: Hey, big spenders
Philanthropy is flourishing as the number of super-rich people keeps growing. But the new donors are becoming much more businesslike about the way their money is used.

As Vartan Gregorian, president of Carnegie Corporation of New York said of wealth and philanthropy: "I like people to be public about their philanthropy; it makes it more competitive if we can see who is doing what."

• From Noble Lie to Pretext for Profit The business of giving: Pull the plug gently [In addition to campaign contributions to elected officials and candidates, companies, labor unions, and other organizations spend billions of dollars each year to lobby Congress and federal agencies Lobbying Database ; Lobbyists spend $2 billion a year to influence Congress. Why so little? There's Not Enough Money in Politics ; Myths and Reality Ten lessons from the criminalization of dissent]
• · Why Should I Be Nice To You? There is no more precious commodity than the relationship of trust and confidence a company has with its employees Coffee Shops and the Politics of Good Service ; What kind of leader transforms a good company into a great company? When put to the test, high profile personalities come second to the steely determination of the quiet achiever. Building bridges for the future and showing that you care about your workers is a good start: being stand-offish or aloof won’t encourage staff to happily walk across your bridges. Follow The Leader: vision, courage and tenacity
• · · Villawood 'riddled' with absbestos: report ; Want to know a foolproof formula for keeping your best employees on board? It’s simple. Find and meet your employees’ key motivators. Meeting Key Motivators is the Best Retention Strategy ; To move up the ladder, it's important that your method of making decisions develops as you do How to Adjust Your Decision-Making Style
• · · · The news about our tax load is good and bad - depending on how you look at it, writes Ross Gittins One man's give is the other's take ; Kevin Panozza considers that there are eight enemies of employee engagement. These eight are uniformity, rule driven behaviour, grey colours, isolation, being taken for granted, being thrown in the deep end, lack of career opportunity and boredom and tedium. The culture of a company is no more than the sum of the individual attitudes of its employees... The culture of a company is no more than the sum of the individual attitudes of its employees... Engagement and its enemies ; Religion and enemies
• · · · · The catalogue of poor decision practices is immense, but we focus here on three of the most common and, in our experience, most harmful to companies. Three Myths of Management; Becoming politically savvy is not always viewed as a wholesome, worthy goal. The mere mention of the word "politics" triggers negative connotations How Smart Women Win at Office Politics
• · · · · · COMMENTS on the exposure draft are due by 5 May 2006 and can be submitted by email to or mailed to: The Manager, Tax Code Unit, Tax Design Division, The Treasury, Langton Crescent, PARKES ACT 2600. REPEAL OF OVER 4,100 PAGES OF TAX LEGISLATION: DRAFT LEGISLATION RELEASED ; 4100 tax pages go Peter takes legal axe to obsolete tax ; Andrew Mills FTIA, President Elect, Taxation Institute of Australia : Getting it right…. and keeping it right: NSW State Convention 2006 For more information or to register for the event contact Nicola on (02) 8223 0042, or email Tax law never stands still and neither can we ; We cannot make water out of nothing How Corrupt Is the United Nations? ; Why Tell the I.R.S. What It Already Knows?

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Are you building your company reputation on "the rock," or on "the sand"? The birth of new agencies and new resources has been lifeblood for our industry Forbes 2000 on the world's largest, and most powerful, public companies The Companies That Rule the Roost

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: 'World' keeps on turning: Plea for tax crackdown
Most big foreign insurers marketing products in Australia such as Allianz, Zurich, American International Group and ACE, are authorised by APRA to operate in Australia and pay local taxes.

TWO of the country's largest insurers, QBE and Promina, have called on the Federal Government to overhaul tax rules applying to offshore rivals, claiming that some are not paying GST and a swathe of state duties.
The Insurance Access and Pricing Unit of Federal Treasury is reviewing the regulatory arrangements applying to offshore foreign insurers that are not supervised by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority.

• We seek consistent collection of taxes from both local insurers and DOFIs wishing to write Australian risks National Insurance Brokers Association [What does not kill you makes you stronger: The new dark ages that are already upon us Insurance company merger woes finds IT solution ; It's a harsh reality that more industry sectors are more and more competitive, more brutal, in the battle for market share and brand equity Asteron appoints head of dealerships; My Finnish spies inform me that Caltex has lifted the lid on one of the worst kept secrets in Sydney - Promina is moving from 2 Market Street to 237 Kent Street ... Caltex, which was tipped to move into stage two of Multiplex's King Street Wharf development last year, before the space was occupied by American Express, is now rumoured to be moving to space at the Allianz centre at 2 Market Street, being vacated by Promina. Macquarie Office Trust and Allianz Australia co-own the building. Promina, I hear, has been sniffing around; and the Macquarie crew. They say a split of New Zealand and Australian operations has been contemplated for some time. This would be much to Sir Ronald's (Brierley of GPG: 20 per cent and long-suffering) liking There, but for the grace of ...]
• · People preparing for retirement have various tax-effective options to increase their super nest egg Strategy key in bridging super gap; Get the tax man off your back Super funds are the only way to go, advises Daryl Dixon How to put the tax demon well and truly to rest ; Dubner and Levitt on why Americans should be clamoring for the I.R.S. to do more audits Not fewer: Filling in the Tax Gap
• · · Mr Wilkins took home $2.76 million last year after his a base salary of $1.05 million was boosted by $1.21 million in cash bonuses, along with $455,332 in share-based payments Promina looks for growth by expansion ; The agencies that will succeed are the ones not frozen in the era of 30-second television commercials and can find the new ways to engage and connect with consumers Promina adds half a million customers
• · · · Asteron dealer group GuardianFP posted a 5.2 per cent increase in adviser numbers on December 31 last year over June 2005, and a 19.7 per cent for the 12 months from December 31, 2004. Promina profit jumps to $505m ; Tyndall, Asteron boost Promina result
• · · · · China vs India: the match of the century The epic 21st-century contest between the Chinese dragon and the Indian tiger is at the level of ideas as well as economies ; Are people victims of the media they watch or crafty exploiters of it? Grand Theft Auto
• · · · · · An article on how to be a lobbyist without trying A personal journey into Washington's culture of greed ; Separating the winners from the losers is harder than one might think: It was no joke, in those days, to pledge your life, your fortune, and your sacred honor to either the revolutionary or the counter-revolutionary cause. Yet without this suffering, America would never have been born Wins, Losses, and Libertarian Ideas ; The price of democracy in Australia is about to rise, becoming out of reach for many Australians The price of democracy; Federal Parliament is to debate a law this week that conjures up modern-day images of Big Brother. Someone else might be listening; Neville Wran: Democracy not ours to export