Author: Michael West

eBay base laid bare in court case

EBay’s lawyers fired off an email to Westpac last February. Its attachments were titled “Project Claw – Freezing Orders”. The subject of these freezing orders – also the targets of the sinister “Project Claw” – are Glen Gaunt and Dana Joab, a couple who used to work at eBay and whom eBay is now suing. It has been a brutal campaign of legal intimidation yet, in a delightful irony for taxpayers, the claw has now turned on its multinational masterminds. One of the plaintiffs in eBay’s case is eBay International Advertising Gmbh. This is the destination for all the revenue eBay...

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eBay’s no teddy bear when it comes to tax

Hopes are high that the movie Ted 2 will live up to the sheer entertainment value of its progenitor, the talking teddy-bear action comedy Ted. What a feat it is that Hollywood can suspend the disbelief of its audience to the point where we laugh and cry along with the travails of a foul-mouthed teddy bear. Yet it is a feat rivalled by the dominant player in ecommerce in this country, eBay Australia and New Zealand. Believing that the financial statements of eBay provide a ‘true and fair’ picture of the company, as they ought to by law, is as fanciful as being gripped by suspense when a weed-chuffing, womanising teddy bear is about to have a car accident on the television. Ebay is the quintessence of “Hollywood accounting”. Its producers, eBay Inc and PwC, have created a fantasy storyline in which billions in Australian revenues mysteriously vanish – along with any obligation to pay income tax to the Commonwealth. Like Google Australia, another Oscar contender in the Hollywood accounting academy, eBay pretends it only has a “small business” in Australia. It pretends that the billions of dollars it makes offering a service in Australia to Australian customers selling Australian things to other Australians, all on Australian computers, is actually a business based in Far Far Away Land. For Google Australia that land is Singapore. For eBay Australia, Far Far Away Land is Switzerland. Now, tax lawyers might try to tell you this is all perfectly legal. They might invoke...

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Your man is strapped into the cockpit in a risky manoeuvre

Qantas chairman Leigh Clifford has decided Alan Joyce is expendable. NO WONDER Qantas chairman Leigh Clifford was keen to push through a huge pay rise for his front man Alan Joyce – this is danger money. On top of bizarre antics like the death-threat publicity blitz, Joyce has presided over a billion-dollar decrease in shareholder wealth and been outmanoeuvred on strategy by his opposite number at Virgin, John Borghetti. His days were numbered anyway. But now the diminutive Irishman has embarked on the biggest industrial-relations fling since Chris Corrigan took on the maritime unions. Unlike the waterfront, though, Qantas has a customer base and a brand to protect. Its forward bookings have been slaughtered. Borghetti is revelling in it. But Joyce and Clifford are betting that a swift resolution to the union fracas will counter the damage to the tattered Qantas brand. It’s a risk, but Clifford knows Joyce is expendable and, by putting this bazooka to the head of government, he may well inflict terminal damage on the unions. Their campaign would carry more weight if Joyce and Clifford held some moral authority, apart from an imprimatur from the usual ideologues cheer-leading for the demolition of the unions. Instead, Joyce is blithely picking up a 71 per cent pay rise while calling for 1000 Qantas jobs to be axed. They don’t get it. Aside from ethics, it’s not...

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The countdown is on.

Who will be ranked as Australia’s biggest tax dodger?


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New Michael West Podcast

Created by PodcastOne, this 3 part series looks into how Australia has gone from one of the cheapest countries in the world for energy to one of the most expensive, and reveals just what has happened with our gas and electricity supply and why we are on the verge of an energy crisis.

Listen to THE ENERGY TRUTH on the PodcastOne website