Tax ideas coming thick and fast

Road-user charges, the end of stamp duties and lower taxes for all business are among a flurry of demands Joe Hockey has to sift through in response to his tax discussion paper.

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The Australian Industry Group, in its submission, warned the treasurer the tax system is under strain and needs a shake-up.

“We need a commitment from across the national parliament and the federation to a bold remodelling of our approach to taxation,” the group’s chief executive Innes Willox says.

It wants the company tax rate reduced to more competitive levels and the thresholds for the two higher personal income tax rates increased.

It also says “harmful” state and territory payroll and insurance taxes should be removed while the GST is increased and its base broadened.

The Property Council of Australia urges an end to mortgage stamp duties, calculating their cost has rocketed by a staggering 800 per cent in the past two decades.

Chief executive Ken Morrison says stamp duty is out of control and a runaway cash grab that throws up a major barrier to home ownership.

“These astounding increases … are nothing short of scandalous,” he says.

Getting rid of stamp duty needs to be a top priority of national tax reform and for every government in the country.

An increased and broadened GST was the “most logical option” replacement.

The Australian Automobile Association estimates that an equally eye-watering $32 billion is raised each year from various motoring and transport-related taxes and charges.

These include registration and licence fees, stamp duty, road tolls, GST on fuel and vehicle sales among others.

But the biggest impost is fuel excise at $15 billion a year.

The association’s chief Michael Bradley says only 47 per cent of fuel excise revenue is returned to road building.

He believes fuel excise should be phased out and replaced with a road-user charge which would provide a clear link to the revenue raised and investment in infrastructure.

Smith named world’s best Test batsman

If Steve Smith’s sublime year at the crease wasn’t already enough to confirm his status as the world’s best Test batsman, the International Cricket Council’s latest player rankings certainly is.

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Smith has jumped to No.1 in the ICC’s rankings, after his brilliant first-innings 199 earned him man-of-the-match honours in Australia’s second-Test drubbing of West Indies in Jamaica overnight.

The captain-in-waiting, who also made 54 not out in just his second match batting at No.3, leapfrogged Sri Lankan star Kumar Sangakkara and South Africans AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla to become the first Australian to top the Test rankings since captain Michael Clarke did so in 2012.

Smith’s 199 was the latest in a tremendous and rarely-seen run in which he has averaged 131.5 over his last 12 Test innings.

The right-hander has also logged five centuries in his last six Tests and nine from his past 17 following his incredible dominance over India in Australia’s home summer.

The extraordinary streak has brought Smith’s overall Test average up to 56.23 – just two weeks after he turned 26.

David Warner has retained 10th place in the rankings, while Clarke is in 14th spot after he missed three Tests over summer due to injuries.

In the Test bowling stakes, Australia boast three quicks in the top 14 but interestingly only one of that contingent played in the tour of the West Indies.

Mitchell Johnson slipped to sixth after the rampant left-armer’s comparatively quiet two Tests in the Caribbean.

Fellow fast bowler Ryan Harris dropped from third to fourth place in his absence from the West Indies tour, while Peter Siddle is still ranked 14th despite having not played a Test since December.

Both face an uphill battle to unseat in-form pacemen Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc from the team facing England in The Ashes next month.

Hazlewood, who was named player of the series thanks to his 12 wickets at an amazing 8.83 per scalp, was rewarded with a rankings boost to 27th.

Starc’s position lifted to No.21 following his impressive 10 wickets at an average of 16.

Operation Sovereign Borders officers acted ‘lawfully’: Morrison

Six asylum seeker boat crew members have told Indonesian authorities they were each given $US5000 by Australian officials to return to Indonesia.

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The federal Labor opposition has asked the auditor-general to investigate the claims, while Indonesian authorities have launched their own investigation and sought an explanation from the Australian ambassador Paul Grigson.

International law experts have suggested the payments are tantamount to the Australian government funding people-smuggling.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has refused to confirm or deny the payments were made, saying only that stopping the boats was good for Australia and Indonesia.

Scott Morrison, who initiated Operation Sovereign Borders after the 2013 federal election, said the operation was being conducted lawfully.

“I have every confidence that officers working as part of Operation Sovereign Borders, based on my own experience of them, … have always and will always operate lawfully,” he told reporters in Canberra on Monday.

The government’s policy was “if a boat leaves Indonesia, it’s going back”.

Parliamentary secretary Alan Tudge said the allegation was “unfounded”.

Labor immigration spokesman Richard Marles has written to the auditor-general seeking an inquiry.

“If this happened, there are serious questions about the legal basis upon which it has happened,” he said.

Independent senator Glenn Lazarus wants the government to resign if the allegations are found to be true.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop appeared to rebuke Indonesia over its request to Mr Grigson to provide information about the alleged payments.

The best way for Indonesia to resolve its concerns about Australia’s operations to stop asylum-seeker boats was to enforce sovereignty over its borders, she told The Australian.

International law expert Don Rothwell says any payment was tantamount to people smuggling, but he doubted Indonesia would take any action against Australia.

The Greens will ask the Australian Federal Police to investigate the claims and establish whether any laws have been broken.

They will also seek the tabling in the Senate of any documents relating to the payment.

“(Mr Abbott) doesn’t have a mandate to break the law and he doesn’t have a mandate for handing out big wads of cash out on the ocean,” Greens immigration spokeswoman Sarah Hanson-Young told reporters.

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Brazil edge Peru to extend winning streak

Substitute Costa slipped the ball past the keeper from close range in the 48th minute of the second half to break the deadlock and extend Brazil’s winning run to 11 matches.

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“I managed to control the ball from a perfect pass from Neymar and I scored,” Costa said in a pitchside interview.

Brazil have kept a perfect record under Dunga, who took over for a second stint as coach last year following the disastrous 7-1 loss to Germany in the semi-finals of their home World Cup.

Brazil have conceded just three goals under Dunga but looked vulnerable during a frantic opening few minutes against Peru, who got off to a dream start with an unexpected opener to Christian Cueva after just three minutes.

David Luiz failed to clear a long ball and goalkeeper Jefferson passed the ball straight to Cueva who hammered it home from 10 yards out.

However, Peru’s lead lasted just two minutes. Dani Alves stroked a lovely cross into the box where an unmarked Neymar headed home his 44th international goal in 64 matches. The Barcelona striker was the stand-out performer of the match. He had a shot saved off the line in the 13th minute and saw a long range strike crash off the underside of the bar eight minutes into the second half.

He was also booked moments before half-time for wiping away the referee’s spray before taking a free kick.

“I just want to help my team with goals and passes,” he said afterwards. “The win is what is important.” The results leaves Brazil joint top of Group C with three points, alongside Venezuela, who beat Colombia 1-0 earlier on Sunday. Brazil play Colombia on Wednesday, while Peru play Venezuela the following day.

“It was incredible,” Peru’s Jefferson Farfan said of the late winner.

“I think we did very well, we knew that we were facing a great time like Brazil and we had a chance to at least get a draw but it never happened. Now we need to think of the next match.”

(Writing by Andrew Downie; Editing by Ian Ransom)

Australia’s Magna Carta to stay put

It could fetch a pretty penny but Australia won’t be selling its copy of Magna Carta anytime soon.

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The manuscript, held in Parliament House, is one of four surviving originals of the 1297 issue.

Celebrating the 800th anniversary on Monday, Senate President Stephen Parry described it as a treasured piece, noting another original changed hands in the US for a price of more than $30 million.

“Please leave this place in the sure knowledge … we won’t be selling ours,” he told a gathering in parliament’s Great Hall.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott described the document as perhaps the most important of all time.

The 1952 acquisition of Australia’s copy was shrouded in controversy at the time, “as most good things are” he said.

Then prime minister Robert Menzies offered the full asking price of 12,500 pounds and not everyone thought spending that much on a piece of old parchment was a good investment.

Mr Abbott suggested it was Menzies’ own Blue Poles moment,” likening it to Gough Whitlam’s purchase of the 1952 Jackson Pollock painting for $1.3 million in 1973.

Long-serving Labor MP Clyde Cameron, who was a minister in the Whitlam government, believed the money could have been better spent sending a copy of Magna Carta to every school child in the commonwealth.

Instead of a copy, students from Boggabri Public School were given a commemorative coin from the Australian Mint on Monday, after they travelled more than 700km to Parliament House.

“We do give Australia’s schoolchildren and indeed our future leaders a chance to savour this document and this moment in history,” Mr Abbott said.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten saluted the document as a “flickering candle, compass, a guiding star”.

Speaker Bronwyn Bishop said the great charter showed that “even the mightiest should be subject to the law”.

Since then Australia has made the Westminster system of government very much its own.

“We are OzMinster,” she said.

Argentine Fabian Gomez surprise winner in Memphis

He entered the final round as co-leader with the more experienced Greg Owen, who also was seeking his first PGA Tour win.

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Gomez, however, was as cool as a cucumber to produce a four-shot victory that included a 30-foot birdie at the closing hole to put an exclamation point on his 13-under 267 total.

A closing 66 from the 288th-ranked golfer in the world made him the latest Argentine winner on the PGA Tour, following in the footsteps of Roberto De Vicenzo, Jose Coceres, Angel Cabrera and Andres Romero. Cabrera supplied the last PGA Tour victory by an Argentine at the Greenbrier Classic a year ago.

Coceres was a mentor of Gomez earlier in his career. The two remain good friends and live a few houses away from each other in Buenos Aires.

“I slept well last night, had a nice barbecue at the hotel,” Gomez said through a translator.

“I tried to keep playing the same way I played the last three days, and I tried to keep my mind blank and enjoy the round.”

In 69 previous PGA Tour events, Gomez had only three top-10 finishes. But he does have a Web杭州桑拿会所, victory and 11 other wins in Latin America and Canada on his resume.

He is not exempt for the U.S. Open this week, but his win secures his card through the 2016-17 season. He also earns a spot in the PGA Championship and 2016 Masters.

Gomez and Owen began the final round with a dozen players within four shots.

Gomez fell behind Owen by two shots after the opening seven holes, but pulled even heading to the back nine. A seven-foot birdie putt at the par-three 11th put Gomez up for good.

Phil Mickelson’s final round 65 pushed him into a five-way tie for third at eight-under with South Korean Noh Seung-yul(65), American Michael Thompson (66), Australian Matt Jones (66) and Koepka (70).

(Reporting by Tim Wharnsby. Editing by Andrew Both)

School uniforms – a blessing or a curse?

Eva Dobozy, Curtin University

Whether it’s parents complaining about the cost of school uniforms, or students complaining about having to remove their nose piercing, the majority of public and private schools have uniform and dress policies with varying degrees of strictness.

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I have researched the benefits and downsides of school uniforms and, while there is no conclusive empirical evidence to say whether uniforms are beneficial for formal learning, the way schools conduct rules and enforce policies teaches students more about civics than the curriculum does.

What advocates of school uniforms say

Sense of community and belonging

There is a general perception that school uniforms can reinforce a child’s sense of community and belonging, especially when the child is young.

Improvement in student behaviour

The media have established that many parents and, I am sure, also a considerable number of teachers, believe that school uniforms contribute to improvements in student behaviour. However, there is insufficient evidence that supports this belief.

Less violence

As the media have shown, there is a general belief that school uniforms contribute to improved student discipline. Interestingly, however, there is verifiable data that shows that alternative education systems, such as Montessori schools, which generally have a “free dress code”, report less discipline problems and student suspensions than other schools. This example shows that there are many variables that contribute to acceptable or unacceptable student behaviour.

Less competition and peer pressure concerning fashion items

In our fashion-conscious society, there is a concern that teenage girls, but also boys, may be under substantial peer pressure to dress in a particular way and if they do not do so, they may be less accepted by their peers or even excluded from their social circle. Proponents argue that school uniforms negate this issue by requiring everyone to dress the same. The reality in our highly technological world is that peer pressure simply manifests itself in different ways.

What opponents of school uniforms say

Source of discontent and rebellious behaviour

When children get older and have a stronger urge for control and independence, they are much more sensitive to how the school represents itself, what it values and what it stands for. Opponents of school uniforms say they too often invite and contribute to rebellious behaviour and present an opportunity to challenge authority.

Hypocrisy – ‘do as I say, not as I do’

During my research, I saw a young male high school teacher punish a Year 9 student for wearing sunglasses when walking into class. The teacher told the student to take them off. The student slid them on top of his head instead of taking them off as directed. The student was given “lunch detention”, meaning that he was not allowed to socialise with his friends during lunch time, but instead was required to eat his lunch in silence in the “detention room”, facing the wall. What was most disturbing about this incident was that the teacher was wearing sunglasses on top of his head for the duration of the lesson. He may have forgotten that they were there, but this is a powerful example of how school uniform policies can be interpreted very narrowly and be the cause of major and often unnecessary problems.

Demotivation with schooling

Children who are in trouble at school because of overzealous policing of “rule breakers” are not going to be motivated to attend school regularly, try hard in classes, or have a sense of belonging. They are much likelier to feel frustrated and alienated, which can and often does lead to truancy and premature departure from high school.

Impose financial hardship on poor or financially struggling families

School uniforms cost a lot of money. For example, my son’s year 12 leaver’s jumper cost over A$250 and he was attending a local public high school. Although I find this unreasonable, I felt compelled to purchase the “leaver’s jumper” for him anyway.

An important lesson in values

What is important to remember is that decisions about school uniform policies and practices have great implications. School students all around Australia complain about what they perceive as “unfair” practices concerning school uniforms. An example of these many complaints shows these policies are no trivial matter:

I go to a public school. I was told I could not wear my headpiece which is part of my cultural heritage to school. The teacher told me if I wore it to school again he would confiscate it. Can he do that?

School staff have an obligation to know and adhere to the law concerning school uniform policy. The Queensland Ombudsman noted in a 1998 uniform complaint case:

I am … concerned if schools are attempting to compel the wearing of uniforms when they have no legal power to do so. If parents or students have an objection to the wearing of uniforms then the schools concerned are risking those students’ education by imposing sanctions in pursuance of a policy which does not have a legal basis.

 

School dress code policies can have significant implications (杭州桑拿,shutterstock杭州桑拿会所,)

What is perhaps most important is to remember that schools have an important role to play in the teaching and learning of the value of democracy.

Teacher and school leaders should be mindful that they teach children certain values in their day-to-day classes. Hence, the teaching and learning of civics and citizenship happen through daily life and not through the imparting of curriculum content.

Students (and parents) have a right to know not only what a school’s uniform policy is and how it is enacted, but also what it aims to achieve, if it is lawfully enacted and who can request changes to the policy.

Eva Dobozy does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

Pearson feels lucky despite wrist surgery

She is facing more surgery on her shattered wrist but Sally Pearson considers herself lucky.

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Olympic hurdles champion Pearson revealed on Monday she thought she would lose her hand following her traumatic fall in a Diamond League race in Rome nearly two weeks ago.

“That was my first thought, that I’d have to go to the Paralympics now,” said Pearson.

“When I got onto the stretcher, my hand started going blue so I was screaming even more because I thought they were going to have to amputate.

“But I do put things into perspective and think I am very lucky with what happened.

“If it had been the ankle, it would be a completely different story right now and I’d be telling you something different.”

Pearson confirmed on Monday that her “bone explosion” will rule her out of August’s world athletics championships in Beijing.

The 28-year-old is set have another operation on Tuesday with surgeons keen to “revise” the procedure she underwent in Rome last week.

Pearson said it was the first time she’d ever had stitches, let alone surgery or a broken bone.

A return date may be pencilled in after the surgery but the injury is so severe that doctors are reluctant to put a time frame on it.

It came after 2011 world champion crashed at the fifth hurdle of her race and was left howling in agony on the track.

The cause of her fall was a “feeling” in her calf muscle that was later revealed as a minor tear, with scans to determine the full extent of the damage.

“I haven’t seen (footage) yet, I’m not planning on looking at it either,” Pearson said.

“What I felt and probably acted like was completely different.

“All I felt was my hand touch the ground.

“I didn’t actually feel the break or the dislocation.

“The reason why I was probably screaming so much was more the fact I was terrified, seeing my hand going in a different direction, and trying to get attention from any of the volunteers working on the track to come and help me because I couldn’t get up because the calf was sore as well.”

If there is an upside, it’s that Pearson will now get her first extended break since her international debut at the 2003 world youth athletics championships before she prepares for the Rio Olympics next year.

“I’m just going to wrap myself in cotton wool until (Rio) and not break or injure myself,” she said.

Athletics Australia head coach Craig Hilliard said the loss of team captain Pearson would be felt at the world titles.

“She hasn’t had a break for a long, long time so it’s important that she gets over that, then refocuses for Rio and gives her body every chance to recover properly,” he said.

“She can still keep training once she gets the all-clear from the medical team and, knowing Sally, she’ll be already plotting and scheming ways of keeping herself fit and doing what’s required to get herself there.”

Government continues to dodge people smuggler ‘bribery’ claims

(Transcript from SBS World News Radio)

The federal government is still refusing to say whether or not people smugglers were paid to turn back an asylum seeker boat.

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Now the Indonesian Foreign Minister has asked Australia’s ambassador for an explanation of claims that smugglers were paid thousands of dollars to turn back to Indonesia.

And as Santilla Chingaipe reports, it’s added pressure to the already strained relations between the two nations.

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

Reports which surfaced last week alleged the Australian navy paid crew members of a boat carrying 65 asylum seekers to return to Indonesian waters.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott did not deny the allegations, but said officials were being what he called “incredibly creative” in following Australia’s policy to turn back the boats.

His comments have been criticised by Indonesian officials, with at least one sounding a warning if the allegations are indeed true.

“We are really concerned if it is confirmed. It would be a new low for the way that the government of Australia is handling the situation.”

When asked about the claims again on Sunday, Mr Abbott refused to be drawn on the matter.

“I think it’s very important that the Australian public are reassured there is a government in charge which will not waiver for a second in our determination to ensure that the boats stay stopped and it’s very important that the Indonesians know that the Australian government is absolutely resolute in our determination never to see this evil trade start up again.”

Last week, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton denied the claims.

But now, he too, is following the prime minister’s lead and refusing to comment.

“The government has been very clear from day one on operation sovereign borders, and that is, we don’t comment on operational matters.”

Opposition leader Bill Shorten has seized on Mr Dutton’s about turn.

“The beleaguered Minister for Immigration, Peter Dutton, seems to be lurching from crisis to crisis. In the course of last week he categorically ruled out, staked his reputation, that no people smugglers have been paid taxpayer money in the carrying out of the people smuggling. Yet today, the Minister for Immigration has refused to stand by his earlier categoric denials. It is now time for Mr Abbott to make it clear, has taxpayer money, Australian taxpayer money, been paid by the Abbott Government to criminal people smugglers or not?”

The Australian Greens have also demanded the government show transparency over the matter.

Deputy leader Larissa Waters says they’ll raise the matter in the Senate to get some answers.

“This is a real question for Tony Abbott to answer, and, of course, he’s been refusing to answer. His ministers have been saying no, we didn’t do this. The Prime Minister himself, when given ample opportunity, has refused to rule out paying people smugglers to turn back boats. Now, we’ll move in the Senate for an order for a production of documents to try to get to the bottom of whether money has changed hands, potentially illegally.”

 

 

Carmody talks ongoing: Qld govt

The Queensland government insists talks between embattled Chief Justice Tim Carmody and Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath are continuing despite reports he is reconsidering his intention to resign.

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Ms D’Ath first met Justice Carmody on May 28 – the same week he publicly revealed he would be prepared to quit to end months of judicial infighting – and described the talk as “constructive”.

The chief justice, who last week extended his sick leave for a bad back, has weathered criticism for attaching conditions to his resignation, including that his departure be on “just terms” and be followed by a judicial review.

The government has said it was not up to Mr Carmody to dictate policy from the bench, and critics have expressed concern that he is breaching the separation of powers principle.

“There are ongoing discussions with the attorney-general,” Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told reporters during a trade mission in Philadelphia on Monday morning (AEST).

Former Queensland District Court judge Brian Boulton believed a small group of bitter judges was behind a concerted push to end Mr Carmody’s tenure, according to News Corp Australia.

A “largely silent majority” of the judiciary wanted him to stay on, The Courier-Mail reported.

Three weeks after the chief justice’s public comments about resigning, Ms Palaszczuk again called for a resolution.

“I would say that Queenslanders interpreted his statement as signalling an intention to resign,” she said. Last Thursday, after Ms Palaszczuk said discussions between Justice Carmody and Ms D’Ath were continuing, a spokesman for the attorney-general told AAP he was not aware of any further meetings since May 28.

But on Sunday, Deputy Premier Jackie Trad said Justice Carmody had been engaging in conversations about his “express desire to resign”.

Ms D’Ath’s spokesman on Monday denied talks had stalled but couldn’t give details about what contact had taken place.

“I can simply say that the discussions between them are still going on,” he said.