Have the Barilaros avoided GST on their luxury estate? What’s the scam?

Have the Barilaros avoided GST on their luxury estate? What’s the scam?

It appears John Barilaro, and his wife Diane have avoided paying over a hundred thousand dollars in GST from renting out their luxury getaway ‘Dungowan Estate’ despite it potentially qualifying as a commercial residential premises. What's the scam?

John Barilaro and his wife Dianne Barilaro have been renting out their luxury, 233-acre Dungowan Estate for functions and getaways, privately and through hosting apps such as Airbnb and Stayz.

According to John Barilaro’s pecuniary interest documents lodged with NSW Parliament, the Deputy Premier and his wife formed a family partnership by the name of ‘D BARILARO & J BARILARO’ in 2014 to handle the proceeds of their “holiday house”, being joint owners.

Barilaro pecuniary interest form

John Barilaro pecuniary interest declaration.

According to the Australian Business Register, the partnership is not currently, nor ever has been, registered for GST.

According to the Australian Tax Office, those who let properties, only need to pay GST if they provide accommodation in a commercial residential premise. A commercial residential premise is defined by the ATO as providing “accommodation to multiple, unrelated guests or residents at once”.

Once the turnover from renting out a commercial residential premise exceeds $75,000, its owners need to register for GST.

According to its own website, www.dungowanestate.com.au, the “luxury escape” can house separate parties, with guests being invited to rent either separate wings of the main house, the Guest House, or the Boathouse.

This would clarify the residence as a “commercial residential premise” according to the definition above.

Sources who have stayed there confirm that the guest house is self-contained and separate from the main house.

According to the SMH, a listing description by Ray White real estate agents at Braidwood from 2014 states: "Currently partially leased for executive holiday stays, the property generates an income of over $160,000 pa".

If the estate has made the same annual turnover as it did in 2014, then the total GST payable may be upwards of $112,000 on $1.12m in total turnover from the past 7 years. It should be emphasised that these are our calculations. Although they have not been refuted by the office of the Deputy Premier.

Records show the Barilaros purchased the property, "Dungowan Estate", at Oallen near Braidwood, for $2.015 million on June 13, 2014.

The property also generates income as a wedding venue.Barilaro weddings

John Barilaro has declined to respond to questions for this story.

Census 2021 is almost upon us: What’s the Scam?

Census 2021 is almost upon us: What’s the Scam?

Desperate to avoid a repeat of 'Censusfail 2016', the Australian Bureau of Statistics received $38 million from government coffers to ensure the success of 2021. Will it prove to be money well spent?

Last year, consultancy firm PwC was contracted by the ABS for $1.5 million to develop and safeguard the Census IT system for this year's national survey which happens in a few weeks.

Without question, the primary objective for PwC is to protect it from cyber infringements like the distributed denial-of-service attacks which brought the Census to its knees in 2016, costing then IT contractors IBM over $30 million.

Via government partnership, the ABS is working with the nation's surveillance intelligence agency, the Australian Signals Directorate on a range of cybersecurity protection measures and security assurance activities in support of the Census.

As part of a mass exodus of senior consultants at PwC last year, its chief technology director Jane Livesey left the company for a similar role at technology firm Cognizant - Hardly welcome news for the ABS; at the time only a year out from its most salient Census count to date. This upheaval led other consultants to argue that the new structure did not match PwC’s original offering for Census 2021.

Less than six months after Livesey’s abrupt departure, the Australian National Audit Office issued a review of the ABS’ planning and development for Census 2021, which it found “partly effective” at the time. As for its online infrastructure:

“The IT framework that the ABS has established for the 2021 Census is largely appropriate. However, the ABS’ implementation of its IT framework is not complete. The ABS has not established a systematic process for managing risks associated with non-compliance.”

In response to the ANAO audit, the ABS assured that the level of system development was as expected and in accordance with current plans at the time.

In the wake of the digital meltdown of 2016, the ABS hired KPMG the following year to conduct an independent alignment review of its IT transformation program.

According to KPMG whistleblower James Eldridge, the review was rigged due to a conflict of interest as the firm was "both reviewing funding of the program and providing assurance services for the program". He alleged KPMG "removed and watered down widespread internal criticism of the agency's $257 million IT transformation program”. Eldridge was fired two weeks later.

Funnily enough, the above ANAO report found:

The ABS has not fully developed processes for ensuring alignment of existing Census systems with its enterprise architectures”. [Emphasis added].


John Barilaro’s daughter breaches lockdown twice: What’s the scam?

John Barilaro’s daughter breaches lockdown twice: What’s the scam?

The ACT Police have confirmed that NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro's daughter entered Canberra on July 12, breaking the public health order for a second time, having travelled from her home in Queanbeyan to Sydney on July 9. John Barilaro has declined to answer questions about the incident.

Following up a statement given to Michael West Media yesterday, the ACT Police have confirmed that John Barilaro's daughter entered the ACT on June 12, following a trip to Canberra. The full statement reads:

·         ACT Policing received a report alleging a 20-year-old Jerrabombera (NSW) woman had recently visited the ACT after travelling to Greater Sydney.

·         Officers spoke with the woman and were satisfied while she had been in the ACT for a short period, she now properly understood the current restrictions on travel into the ACT.

·         No infringement was issued and ACT Policing considers this matter finalised.

The ACT Police later confirmed that the above statement was in reference to an individual who entered into the ACT on July 12.

John Barilaro

Il Grupo Partido

The individual received a $1000 penalty from the NSW Police Force for breaching the public health order on July 9, when she travelled into Sydney from regional NSW.

This raised questions as to whether John Barilaro's daughter was staying in the family's Rushcutters bay apartment between July 9 and 12, or whether she returned to Queanbeyan in regional NSW between trips to Sydney and Canberra.

John Barilaro has declined to answer questions about the infringements.

According to the NSW Government, regional residents must not enter Greater Sydney including the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Wollongong and Shellharbour local government areas without a reasonable excuse.

The Government requires that an individual entering into these areas "for any reason, stay at home rules will also apply to you for 14 days after you were last in any of these areas. This means that you will need to stay at your place of residence for 14 days, even if it is in a regional area, unless you have a reasonable excuse."

Images posted to Instagram show John Barilaro's daughter celebrating the Italian vs England EURO finals outside what appears to be the Molto Italian restaurant in Kensington, ACT on July 12.



La Fiesta Barilaro: What’s the Scam?

La Fiesta Barilaro: What’s the Scam?

A alleged member of the family of Deputy Premier John Barilaro has been allegedly fined by the NSW Police for allegedly breaching lockdown in NSW and ACT. What's the alleged scam?

The scam is that Michael West Media has declined to identify the persons allegedly involved for fear of reprisals from the Fixated Persons Unit and the possibility that the alleged FPU officers might trip over a dog and knock somebody's mother over while in the process of arresting us for stalking, other predatory behaviour, or for not being a member of the press gallery or the Liberal and National Parties, or for just being alive.

Or even more serious is the prospect of a legal assault from John Barilaro's alleged $20,000 a day barrister Sue Chrysanthou and John's allegedly over-enthusiastic defamation solicitors from O'Brien Legal.

NSW Police have confirmed the NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro’s daughter breached the Covid lockdown by travelling from her home in Queanbeyan to Sydney to Canberra last Friday, July 9.

Forza Italia!

A NSW Police Force spokesperson said:

"Officers from Monaro Police District have issued a Penalty Infringement Notice (PIN) for failing to comply with direction under the Public Health Act after an alleged breach by a 20-year-old woman.

"It’s alleged the woman travelled from regional NSW to Sydney then to the ACT, before returning to her home in regional NSW last Friday (9 July 2021).

 "She was very helpful and apologetic with police. She has since been issued with the $1000 PIN."

She received the smallest possible penalty for breaching public health orders. The maximum penalty is “imprisonment for 6 months and/or a penalty of up to $11,000.

According to NSW Health, on the spot fines can also be issued:

  • $4,000 for a breach of clause 6 of the Public Health (COVID-19 Border Control) Order 2020 - failing to provide or falsifying information to an enforcement officer
  • $5000 for a breach of the Public Health (COVID-19 Spitting and Coughing) Order (No 2) 2020
  • $1,000 in other cases.

It appears the NSW Police have considered the Barilaro breach an ‘other case’.

Il Gruppo della fiesta

Photos that tagged the alleged person on Instagram show the person allegedly out and about three days later on July 12 at a viewing party for the Italy vs England European Cup final.

Her father John is allegedly no stranger to allegedly potentially breaching Covid rules himself.

Last year, the Deputy Premier and alleged leader of the National Party came under fire for allegedly travelling from his Rushcutters Bay apartment in Sydney to his allegedly luxurious 300-acre Dungowan Estate in rural NSW despite alleged stay-at-home orders.

The ACT police force, NSW police force and John Barilaro himself have all refused to comment on whether or not John Barilaro or an associate was in contact with the police regarding the matter.

Additional reporting by Michael West, allegedly.


NSW got four times Victoria’s lockdown subsidies: What’s the Scam?

NSW got four times Victoria’s lockdown subsidies: What’s the Scam?

The Federal Government gave Sydney Northern Beaches residents more than four times the lockdown support that it gave beleaguered Victorians during their extended lockdown last year. What's the scam?

The scam is that we are not "all in this together". The Northern Beaches of Sydney are in a blue ribbon Liberal seat and Victoria is a Labor state.

In a press conference on the lawns of Kirribilli House yesterday, Scott Morrison, flanked by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Treasurer Dominic Perrottet, bragged about the uneven payments made to Northern Beaches and Victoria during their respective lockdowns.

The PM said $13.4 billion went to Victoria during its lockdown, and "over a billion dollars..." went to the Northern Beaches during its lockdown.

The Victorian lockdown lasted 113 days between, from July 7 until and October 28 last year when roughly 5 million people were locked down across the state.

The NSW lockdown over Christmas, primarily of the Northern Beaches, lasted 32 days between December 2020 29 and January 20 this year, with approximately 70,000 people locked down.

According to the PM's figures, the Commonwealth Government paid $31.2m per day to NSW and $118.5m per day for Victoria.

These numbers seem reasonable until you look at the dollar per person figures.

Commonwealth support was more than four times greater per person for the Northern Beaches than it was for Victoria: NSW at $14,285.71 per person, compared with Victoria’s $2677 per person.

Now we await to see the disparity in funding for Sydney's present lockdown. Wishing no mean subsidies for the people of NSW ... but it does not seem fair to Victorians.

Editors note: a previous version of this piece claimed the support was more than four times greater.


Uber: What’s the Scam?

Uber: What’s the Scam?

Lockdown is bliss for some. Uber Australia's accounts are out - late - and the multinational which defines people on mopeds as its "partners", not employees, is coining it. What's the scam?

The scam is they collected $6bn in cash from Australian customers last year during the pandemic - double the $3bn the year before, and managed to pay tax of just $17m. A “service fee” of $643m was paid to somebody, probably its Netherlands parent.

Thanks to Uber’s auditors, the reliable masterminds of tax dodging, PwC, the accounts are a adequately confusing, but what is clear is that while Rideshare might have taken a first-half hit, Uber Eats went stratospheric, and right now, with Sydney in lockdown again, they will be braining it again. 

Uber’s P&L records $1bn revenue in Australia last year for a gross profit of $986m. The aim of course was to wipe that profit out, rip it offshore, so they did this a number of ways (besides service fees), charging $234m in marketing expenses (that we can almost believe) and $763 million “administration” (which is ludicrous).


CitiPower, Powercor: What’s the Scam?

CitiPower, Powercor: What’s the Scam?

Scammer exposed! A fitting title for the latest financial accounts of foreign-billionaire-owned electricity giant Victoria Power Networks, the largest energy operator in Victoria which runs the CitiPower and Powercor networks. But are they getting off with a light sentence from the Tax Office?

For Victoria’s dominant energy operator and serial tax dodgers Victoria Power Networks, the ATO has ensured the company pays its income tax in full for 2020, plus a $30 million upfront fee to cover any other misdeeds it may have tried to hide under the rug. 

Fancy being so renowned as tax cheats that the ATO places you on the naughty list to the tune of $30 million. The energy giant is in an ongoing court battle with the ATO regarding, principally now for fudging carried forward tax losses, which they have been doing for over a decade: “The business is currently working with the ATO to lodge amended income tax assessments for years 2007 to 2020.”



VicPower is majority-owned by CK Infrastructure and Power Assets Holdings, which are in turn controlled by Hong Kong billionaire Richard Li (son of Li Ka-Shing) via the CK Group. ASX-listed company Spark Infrastructure controls the remaining 49% of the CitiPower and Powercor electricity networks.

Despite operating on the ATO’s watch list, VicPower still tried to reduce its tax for 2020 through loans to related parties of $940 million at an interest rate of 10.8%. As a result, the ATO forced them to pay an additional $3 million in tax (taken from the $30 million upfront fee), which only knocked their interest rate down to 9.7%. Has VicPower gotten off lightly compared to Chevron’s $300 million tax bill?

Federal bushfire recovery funds. What’s the scam?

Federal bushfire recovery funds. What’s the scam?

Scott Morrison's $2 billion bushfire recovery fund is only "notional", the vast majority of money has gone to the Liberal states of NSW and SA, and there's no transparency to the spending, with a key website changed to make it even more difficult to find information.

The federal Coalition government has made it even more difficult to track the spending of billions of dollars of bushfire recovery money by subsuming the National Bushfire Recovery Agency into the National Recovery and Resilience Agency. Even less detail is available about the spending of taxpayers’ money.

The website changes come just months after Michael West Media revealed extraordinary pork barrelling by the NSW Coalition government of the Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund.


It looks like the Coalition is also building up an election war chest from the bushfire recovery money. A report Smokescreen by Per Capita and GetUp has revealed a number of interesting details.

As of April 30 2021, $288.8 million (about 51%) had been spent of the $565.9 million promised in early 2020. However, the pace of payments has slowed considerably, meaning the time taken to spend the entire amount is expected to blow out well past January 2023.

Smokescreen also revealed that:

  • 86% of certain funds have gone to the Liberal-governed states of NSW and South Australia, with only 14% going to Labor-governed Victoria and Queensland.
  • There is little to no transparency over the funds, with multiple accounts of Federal Government ministers misrepresenting the scale of the funding and the speed of delivery.
  • Scott Morrison's "$2 billion" for bushfire recovery is only notional, with the Government's own senior civil servants confirming that the $2bn is a theoretical description of a number of different pots of money.
NSW pokies: What’s the Scam?

NSW pokies: What’s the Scam?

NSW has the world’s worst pokies losses per capita at $7 billion per year, equivalent to more than $1,200 for each adult. It's a boon for the state's coffers but the government is proposing reforms to stem the losses, or is it? What's the scam?

The scam is fake reforms. According to this week's NSW Budget papers, they are anticipating higher revenues from gaming, not lower. The 2021-22 NSW budget predicts its tax revenue from pokies will rise by 7.8% to more than $2 billion over the next four years.

"From 2021-22, stronger household income is expected to increase forecast gaming device revenue by $127.2 million over the four years to 2024-25", the budget papers said.


So how does this statement square with reforms that NSW’s Gambling Minister Victor Dominello is planning supposedly as a way to stem gambling losses? The minister is planning to introduce cashless pokies statewide, to minimise gambling losses and money-laundering activities by requiring patrons to register and pre-load money to a government-regulated card. The Nationals have rejected the plan. 

If the government is serious about helping people who gamble, why is Treasury forecasting that revenue will actually increase? Real gambling reform would include measures such as reducing the $10 maximum bet to $1, as the Productivity Commission has recommended on multiple occasions.


Medibank Life Insurance: What’s the Scam?

Medibank Life Insurance: What’s the Scam?

Health insurer Medibank is spruiking life insurance in a big ad campaign, sending Australians on a guilt trip if they haven’t taken out life insurance. “It’s surprising that only one in four Australian adults say they have life insurance,” says Medibank's ad. What’s the scam?

The scam is Australians are over-insured; though you will hardly hear that from the insurance lobby. There is a lot of overlap in insurance - via the likes of credit cards and super. A large number of Australians don’t need to take out separate life insurance because they already have insurance through their superannuation.

According to Xavier O’Halloran, Director at Super Consumers Australia, an advocacy group for the superannuation sector, a lot of people are unaware they have default life insurance through their superannuation. O’Halloran says that 60% of super accounts come bundled with a life insurance policy. He adds that 25% of Australians are not aware of what type of superannuation they have or whether they have any insurance through their super.

He said that before anyone rushes out to buy life insurance based on Medibank’s ads, they should first check with the superannuation fund to avoid wasting money on buying duplicate policies.

The most recent federal parliamentary report on the life insurance industry in 2018 found the year end revenue in 2017 was $34 billion, up from $28 billion the year before.​

Trivago, Wotif, Expedia, Hotels.com: What’s the Scam?

Trivago, Wotif, Expedia, Hotels.com: What’s the Scam?

The multinational that owns a suite of online travel brands, Expedia, pays no tax in Australia but actually gets government subsidies. What’s the Scam?

JobKeeper, that's the scam. Buried in the notes to its financial statements, Expedia discloses it picked up a $7.1m grant from “government wage subsidy scheme”. It even got a small tax refund last year and forked out just $381,000 in income tax the year before.

The Delaware-based parent structures this racket like the other big player in Australia's hotel duopoly Booking.com - indeed like eBay and a bunch of other digital giants. They don’t disclose the hundreds of millions in revenue they make in Australia. Their revenue is “inter-company service fees” of just $89 million.

Neither do they have an excuse to cry poor. They were all slogged here when the pandemic hit but quickly bounced into profit big time when the domestic travel boom went off in the second half of the year.

​Salad days for tax dodgers, public hand-outs, a travel boom and no tax.


“Unspecified” political donations: What’s the Scam?

“Unspecified” political donations: What’s the Scam?

Has the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) just made it easier to hide political donations? It doesn’t appear to know, really. What’s the scam?

The scam is a total lack of clarity about who funds political parties has just become even more unclear; perhaps another leg-up for corporate influence over democracy.

Political donations that sit above the $14,300 threshold are meant to be disclosed in the AEC’s Detailed Receipts database. Until recently, these payments were categorised into three receipts types; ‘donation received’, ‘subscription’ and ‘other receipt’.

In its 2020 release of data, total payments made to recipients including political parties, campaigners, associated entities and peak bodies such as the Business Council of Australia was $587 million, with 94.3% listed as ‘other receipts’.

According to the AEC, ‘other receipts’ are amounts that do not fit the definition of “gift” (donation) as outlined in the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918. 

Even though the AEC is the governing body for political donations, it is left to the discretion of the recipient or their donor to determine whether any given payment constitutes a gift or simply something ‘other’, with no further detail provided to the public.


Now the AEC has introduced two new receipt types, one of which is simply ‘unspecified’.

Asked what constitutes an ‘unspecified’ political payment, a spokesman for the AEC told Michael West Media:

“After a conversation with a colleague in the business area we believe the term ‘unspecified’ likely refers to the fact that someone lodged a hardcopy form and did not indicate on that form whether the money was a donation or an ‘other receipt’. Although this is hard to confirm that without looking at an individual instance. We have a compliance program that seeks to have full disclosure in line with the legislation, which includes liaising with people and entities if an incomplete return is lodged”.

Has the AEC afforded political parties an added layer of secrecy or obfuscation for their corporate donors? “Unspecified”, like “Other”, would seem to cloud the picture even more.

Further, is the introduction of "Unspecified" at odds with the AEC’s compliance program, especially given that ‘unspecified receipts’ have been allocated to payments as far back as 2006/07?

Why is the AEC not following up on these payments and enforcing better disclosure from either the donor or the recipient? Ironically, the Detailed Receipts are part of a wider database known as the ‘Transparency Register’.

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