• The Next Major Breakthrough In Ending Poverty

    Posted by John

    8 July, 2014

    Last week a story appeared in our national papers highlighting the fact that Glencore, the third largest multinational mining company operating in Australia, had earned $15 billion in profits over the last 3 years, yet they had paid zero taxes!

    That’s outrageous by anyone’s standards.

    This is not a new problem. For decades an intricate system of tax havens has been developing across our world which facilitates secrecy in financial transactions and enables dodgy deals by corrupt government officials and criminals. But contrary to popular misconceptions, this is not primarily a problem caused by corrupt dictators and criminals. Of all the money that flows out of poor countries, 65% of it is taken out by multinational companies who are dodging paying their fair share of tax.

    Each year developing countries lose at least $160 billion from this tax dodging. This is more money than these countries receive in aid. This is money that rightfully belongs to the citizens of these poor countries.

    Politicians have known about this problem for a long time, but they have been trying to keep a lid on the problem. But we are changing that!

    Activists 'shining a light' on global tax avoidance. Photo Courtesy Lewis Best.Activists 'shining a light' on global tax avoidance. Photo Courtesy Lewis Best.

    Last week 220 ordinary Australians from every corner of the country – people of all ages and from all walks of life – descended on the halls of Parliament House as part of Micah Challenge’s annual Voices for Justice event. These teachers, students, builders and accountants came to Canberra at their own expense to speak up for people and communities in poor nations whose voices are not heard.

    Over two days, we met with about 120 politicians. Before we left Parliament House, 5 MPs and Senators had made speeches in Parliament!

    Just a few days earlier some of the participants had never met an MP or Senator and had no idea about tax evasion.They were nervous, but because they were willing to raise their voices, they have been a part of a movement that is bringing change.

    Meeting with your politician is without doubt one of the most powerful ways that you can bring change in the world.

    Participants meeting with the Prime Minister's Representative Andrew LammingParticipants meeting with the Prime Minister's Representative Andrew LammingEvery year politicians tell me how thankful they are that we bring people to Canberra to raise these issues. They tell me how their days are filled with people meeting with them who want something for themselves, and how refreshing it is to have people advocating on behalf of others.
    ig business is talking about tax dodging. The media is talking about tax dodging. Now ordinary grassroots Australians are talking about tax dodging.

    My dream is that there will be such a groundswell of support behind this issue in the next few months that the politicians won’t be able to put a lid on it anymore. We will demand that businesses who earn profits in both our country and in the poorest countries in the world will pay their fair share of taxes.

    Wherever you are around the world, you have an opportunity to be part of the next major breakthrough in the fight against poverty.

    TAKE ACTION

    GLOBAL
    •    Sign the EXPOSED Global Petition calling on leaders at this years G20 meetings to take real action on anti-corruption 

    AUSTRALIA ONLY
    •    Take a ‘Shine the Light Selfie’ and send it to your MP, or for people outside Australia, send it to the Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey.
    •    Arrange to meet with your MP in their electorate office. You can find a meeting guide as well as a briefing sheet on issues of tax dodging here.

    John Beckett is the National Coordinator for Micah Challenge Australia.