Australian Organisations Demand PM Acts on Tax in Open Letter

21 April 2016

A coalition of Australian organisations has today called on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to end the Government’s silence over the Panama Papers and to commit to taking action on tax dodging by wealthy individuals and corporations.

The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS), ActionAid Australia, the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), the Australian Youth Climate Coalition, the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU), GetUp!, Greenpeace, SEED, the Tax Justice Network of Australia and Uniting Justice Australia are among the 44 signatories of an open letter demanding that the Prime Minister take action to end tax dodging practises that have robbed critical resources from the Australian budget.

The letter calls on the Turnbull government to act on tax avoidance and reminds the Prime Minister of the Australian Government’s responsibility to “promote the wellbeing of all Australians, not the selfish interests of a few”.

The letter highlights the impact of tax dodging schemes on public services and infrastructure. The agencies call on the Prime Minister to outlaw the use of shell companies with concealed ownership and other means of tax avoidance and tighten regulations around corporate transparency.

Paul Oosting, National Director of GetUp!, said that everyday Australians should feel robbed.

“Against a backdrop of vicious funding cuts to local hospitals and schools, the Turnbull Government insists it’s done enough to crack down on rampant tax dodging by corporations and the 1%. But when everyday Australians are paying more tax than billionaire corporations like Chevron, Pfizer and JP Morgan, there can be no more excuses.”

ACTU President, Ged Kearney, called for an economy that “works for everyone, not just for the wealthiest 1%”.

“People are sick and tired of being used as an ATM by big corporations who profit from Australian workers, resources and public infrastructure, then refuse to give back,” Ms Kearney said.

“Our government has known for a long time that shell companies with concealed ownership are used to assist wealthy people and criminals in tax evasion and avoidance, money laundering, fraud, and the illicit arms trade”, said Dr Mark Zirnsak, spokesperson for the Tax Justice Network Australia.

“It is time the Australian Government required the ultimate owners and controllers of companies to be made public,” Dr Zirnsak said.

Dr Cassandra Goldie, CEO of the Australian Council of Social Service, said that loopholes in the company tax system needed to be closed before consideration of tax cuts.

“It is not acceptable for governments to be reducing funding to basic services while leaving gaping holes in our tax system. Public confidence in the tax system depends on people and companies paying their fair share. Loopholes that allow individuals and corporations to avoid their obligations should be systematically closed. This should be a first priority in the broader tax reform process.”

Reverend Elenie Poulos, National Director of Uniting Justice Australia said, “Taxation is a profoundly moral issue. A fair tax system is one of the most important tools we have for achieving a society where all people can flourish. The revenue being lost to the Government by tax avoidance directly affects the quality of life in our country and the quality of life of our neighbours in some of the most impoverished communities around the globe. It is time for the Government to act so that we have a tax system that benefits those who need it most.”

For further information or interviews with spokespeople, contact:

Fernando de Freitas, ACOSS – 0419 626 155

Ben Jessup, ACTU – 0410 632 123

Adrian Dodd, GetUp! – 0401 726 476

Dr Mark Zirnsak, Tax Justice Network – 0409 166 915

Matt Pulford, Uniting Church in Australia Assembly 0408 634 373

Read the Open Letter to the Prime Minister.