Facebook’s global vice-president of tax and treasury Ted Price said the US company had been under Tax Office audit. Photo: APFour of the world’s largest companies have been under investigation by Australian tax authorities, amid new evidence from US executives about how Facebook, Google, Apple and Microsoft are shifting money to offshore tax havens.
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Appearing before a highly anticipated public hearing into corporate tax evasion, the executives endured questions about why so much of the revenue generated in Australia ultimately ended up booked elsewhere.

Microsoft’s corporate vice-president of worldwide tax, Daniel Goff, said some of the $1.8 billion revenue generated in Australia had been transferred to Microsoft’s regional headquarters in Singapore and Ireland to fund research and development.

He also revealed the global tech giant had reached a last-minute confidential settlement with the ATO ahead of the hearing – a development Australian Taxation Office commissioner Chris Jordan described as “awfully coincidental”.

Explaining the various audits, Mr Jordan told the inquiry that “enough was enough” and publicly accused multinational companies of shirking their obligations.

“We were fed up with those corporate taxpayers choosing to engage in behaviour amounting to gaming and stooging tactics to avoid their tax obligations,” he told the inquiry.

Facebook’s global vice-president of tax and treasury, Ted Price, confirmed the ATO was conducting an audit of the US-based company, covering “most of the years it had been in operation in Australia”.

Despite the social media giant’s predominantly online interface, Mr Price said advertisers had to meet face-to-face with Facebook in their offices in Sydney and Melbourne for advertising revenue to be booked in Australia for tax purposes.

The comments suggest the actual revenue figure from Australian advertising could be much larger than the sudden tenfold increase the company recorded after an ATO crackdown last year.

Facebook paid $3.4 million in tax last financial year after its revenue jumped from $33.5 million to $327 million over the space of just 12 months.

The chair of the committee, Chris Ketter, told Mr Price: “The average person in the street would look at that and say ‘Up until now you haven’t been reporting your true revenue in Australia’.”

Independent senator Nick Xenophon said Facebook’s claimed $327 million revenue was “not credible”.

Mr Price said prior to the introduction of Multinational Anti-Avoidance Law last year, Facebook’s Australian revenue would have been booked in Ireland, where the company tax rate is 12 per cent.

At a separate inquiry on Tuesday, Melbourne Business School professor Mark Ritson gave evidence that up to $6 billion in advertising revenue was being divided between Facebook and Google in Australia.

Google’s director of international tax, Damon Richardson, told the inquiry Google had placed its headquarters in tax havens Singapore, Ireland and Bermuda for several reasons.

In Ireland he said the company’s 6000 employees needed to “speak a multitude of languages to connect with advertisers across the European region”.

He said until this year the company’s Australian revenue had been booked through its Asia-Pacific headquarters in Singapore, but from now on all advertising from an Australian postal address would be taxed through Google Australia.

Google Australia made up 0.9 per cent of the company’s global profits, 0.4 per cent of Australian taxes and 0.3 per cent of global tax, Mr Richardson said.

Senator Ketter said the figures “seem misaligned”, given Australia made up to 2 per cent of the world’s gross domestic product.

“We believe that we’re paying the correct amount of tax,” said Mr Richardson.

“What happens outside in terms of the Irish structure has no impact on how much tax we pay in Australia.”

Apple Australia’s managing director, Tony King, said neither the introduction of the Diverted Profits Tax or the Multinational Anti-Avoidance Law had caused the technology giant to change its business model.

The hearing was told Apple Australia’s cost of sales – the price it pays to purchase products from global Apple subsiduaries – is 50 per cent higher in Australia than the global average.

Apple’s yet-to-be released 2016 report will show company revenue of$7.5 billion, while earning a profit of $400 million in Australia during that time. That would put its income tax bill at $120 million – $30 million less in tax than it paid last year.

Mr Jordan appeared to suggest Apple had brough its practices up to date through its most recent audit.

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The Walker brothers, Ipswich Jets coaches Ben and Shane, have put their hands up to replace Neil Henry in the belief they are capable of doing what no other coaches could – consistently get the best out of Jarryd Hayne.
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The Walkers have emerged as the latest contenders for the head coaching role at the Titans as the fallout on the holiday strip continues.

Henry’s former assistants, Terry Matterson and Craig Hodges, will take over in an interim capacity for the remaining two rounds and will be considered if they apply for the role on a full-time basis.

Kevin Walters is the early front-runner for the vacant position, with reports out of Queensland on Tuesday indicating the Maroons coach was keen to replace Henry.

Others in the mix include Penrith reserve grade coach Garth Brennan, former Manly mentor Geoff Toovey and South Sydney assistant Anthony Seibold. Canterbury coach Des Hasler and South Sydney mentor Michael Maguire would also come under consideration if they parted ways with their current clubs.

The Walkers could be a left-field solution. Ben and Shane Walker have revolutionised the way rugby league is played in the Queensland Cup since taking over at the Jets. While most teams focus on completion rates, their emphasis is on time with the football in hand, with their homespun philosophy resulting in an attractive attacking style and a 2015 premiership.

The siblings recently engaged a manager and believe their methods are transferable to the Gold Coast.

“We’ve done a fair apprenticeship and we know we’re ready to take on an NRL role,” Shane Walker said.

“There’s a lot of potential there [at the Titans]. They haven’t won a comp, which is certainly what motivates us, winning comps. That’s why we do what we do.

“There is a really good roster too.”

One of the biggest challenges for the incoming Titans coach is managing Hayne. The enigmatic fullback fell out with Henry, who was the casualty when the relationship was damaged beyond repair.

Given Hayne is on $1.2 million next season, the Titans are stuck with him until his contract expires. However, the Walkers believe they can succeed where other coaches have failed.

“He’s a good player and I think we could get the best out of him,” Shane Walker said.

“In our time so far as coaches, I can say with my hand on my heart that there hasn’t been anyone we haven’t been able to get the best out of. I’m not saying we’re the sole reason but Benny Hunt came back to us well and truly out of form. In his week with us, we certainly returned him a much happier footballer who is playing well at the moment.

“Ben Hannant did his time and it was the same thing. We get the best out of people.”

The Walkers have made a successful transition from the playing to coaching ranks and believe they are ready for the next step. While some may view them as a potential risk at the highest level, the siblings don’t see it that way.

“For the guys who run the club, they are driven by commercial outcomes,” Shane Walker said.

“Our chairman relayed some stats that when the Jets play a Channel Nine game, there is a 27 per cent spike in viewers.

“People enjoy the way we play and being entertained. Commercially, I don’t think it would be a brave decision and football wise it would make sense.”

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Australia’s largest chicken producer Inghams Group has emerged as the victor from last year’s supermarket chook war, crediting the price cutting with driving demand for its birds during its first year as a listed company.
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Inghams’ chief executive Mick McMahon said Coles and Woolworths slashing the price of roast chickens from $11 to about $8 in close succession last year contributed to a 13 per cent jump in poultry volume sales in Australia. That beat its prospectus forecast by 4.3 per cent.

“It’s good for us from a volume point of view ??? we’re not investing in those lower prices – our customers [the supermarkets] are – and for us it drives higher volumes off the back of that investment,” Mr McMahon said.

“For us it works out positively, although it does cause a few challenges when you get rapid growth through the supply chain. It can give you a few headaches – but growth is better than the opposite.”

Mr McMahon said sales had also been helped by relatively high red meat prices that saw more shoppers turn to chicken, and strong demand from the fast food restaurants it supplies, which includes KFC and McDonald’s.

High feed prices had increased product costs but that was being passed on to customers during recent weeks, he said.

“We wouldn’t see too much change in the price points that the end consumer sees, but there will be some price inflation that flows through,” he said.

Mr McMahon said the high volume growth seen in 2017 would moderate and return to “historical” trends as it cycles pricing initiatives over this financial year.

Volume sales in New Zealand were about 0.3 per cent softer than forecast in its prospectus, and revenue was 2.8 per cent behind its forecast.

UBS analyst Ben Gilbert said Ingham’s cost-cutting this financial year looked likely to be offset by rising electricity costs, rising feed costs, and falling beef prices, which would attract shoppers over chicken.

Mr Gilbert said predicted earnings would fall between 2 and 5 per cent and cut his valuation from $3.75 to $3.70 with a buy rating.

Statutory net profit was $59.1 million, up 134 per cent on 2016, and up 22.8 per cent to $102 million on a pro forma basis.

Ingham’s declared a fully franked final dividend of 9.5?? per share to be paid on October 4, bringing its total 2017 dividend to 12.1??.

Shares, which listed on the ASX in November at $3.22, closed down 4 per cent on Tuesday at $3.36.

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Stevie Johnson may be fit and available for a potential last game at Simonds Stadium, but he is no guarantee to come in to the Giants team to take on the Cats in a critical top-four game.
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Johnson is still to be cleared fit to play after his troublesome knee, but with an understanding of a venue that is difficult for visiting teams, the former Cats star would be a logical selection. But who goes out to fit him in is the issue.

Matt de Boer has played well and applies defensive pressure. The other alternative is Devon Smith.

Rory Lobb is likely to be fit, which puts pressure on Harry Himmelberg to keep his spot.

The Cats will certainly welcome back Tom Hawkins after suspension.

Geelong football manager Steve Hocking said Rhys Stanley and Mark Blicavs would be tested later in the week and were both reasonable chances to be fit.

Essendon’s former captain Jobe Watson is almost certain to play against Fremantle on Sunday. The Bombers must win to stay in the eight but against lowly Fremantle that would seem likely.

Josh Green has a suspected fractured foot and will not play again this year. Travis Colyer is likely to come in for him. Jake Long would have been in the mix to come into the side but he was suspended for three matches in the VFL.

For Melbourne, co-captain Jack Viney has recovered slower than expected but he will be assessed and push to play this week against Collingwood in a game the Demons must win to stay in the eight. The bye the week after this last round will be a consideration for managing his foot.

“Jack’s probably been a little bit slower than we thought he’d be,” Melbourne’s high-performance manager David Misson told Melbourne TV. “He had a little bit of soreness after not having a long time [on the sidelines] after his initial surgery.

“He’s been loading that foot up with those games that he’s played, so he’s improving every day. As [coach] Simon Goodwin’s been saying, we’re taking it day-by-day and we’ve been encouraged by how much he’s improved in the last couple of days, but we’ll assess him later in the week.”

Demons ruckman Jake Spencer is a chance to play weekend after missing the past two matches in the VFL with an abdominal injury.

“Jake is looking really good,” Misson said.

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The Australian Rugby Union has rejected an offer of around $50 million from billionaire mining magnate Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest to save the code and look after the financial burden of the Western Force.
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Forrest, who first pledged support for the Western Force after the club’s last match against the NSW Waratahs in July, was flanked by former ARU director Geoff Stooke and West Australia’s first homegrown Wallaby, John Wellborn at the meeting. The trio met with ARU chairman Cameron Clyne, deputy chairman Brett Robinson as well as director and former Wallabies captain John Eales.

During a three-hour meeting in Adelaide, Forrest told the ARU there would be no financial risk to the game’s governing body if the Force were able to continue in Super Rugby.

Fairfax Media has been told Forrest put an offer of around to $50million on the table to the ARU to help them out of financial trouble.

When contacted, the ARU said it would not comment on the dollar figure put forward by Forrest.

The ARU, however, is in a difficult predicament given it has already told SANZAAR it will cut a team from Super Rugby next season. With the Melbourne Rebels’ license in the hands of the Victorian Rugby Union, meaning the ARU has no constitutional right to axe them, the Force were named earlier in the month as the team in the firing line.

The ARU rejected Forrest’s offer at the meeting and made it clear they were committed to cutting the Force.

“We had a long discussion with Andrew today and have provided in detail the position of the ARU and the factors that have led to our decision to discontinue the Western Force Super Rugby licence,” said Clyne.

“We were genuinely appreciative of Andrew’s generous offer to back the Western Force and Australian Rugby, however, given the position we are in we are unable to work towards retaining five teams in Super Rugby.”

Although disappointed, Forrest said he was pleased the ARU outlined its commitment to working with the Force to develop a new international competition based in Western Australia.

During the Force’s supporter rally last Sunday, Forrest had thrown up a curve ball by saying he would start his own Asian rugby competition, headed by the Force, if the Supreme Court appeal failed. Force chief executive Mark Sinderberry said the idea had merit.

“This is a really exciting concept and picks up on some interesting rugby we’re seeing in Asia,” Sinderberry said.

“Certainly Twiggy’s vision is one we’d be very excited to understand. It’s an embryonic idea, but one worth exploring. There’s a number of cities and countries in Asia that do play rugby at the moment and are looking at ways to develop their own programs. So we think it would be very well received.”

RugbyWA will find out on Wednesday whether their appeal against the ARU’s decision to axe the Force will be heard in the NSW Supreme Court. If not – or if the appeal fails – the Force will be left with no other choice but to explore playing elsewhere.

With AAP

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NEWS: Series on Men and Woman suffering PTSD. Chris May . .31st October 2013… Photo by MELISSA ADAMS of The Canberra Times. US Secretary of Defence James Mattis and US Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson meeting Julie Bishop and Marise Payne at Government House, Sydney.Pictured is Marise Payne5th June 2017.Photo: Steven Siewert
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The United States is expected to ask Australia to commit more troops to Afghanistan and Defence Minister Marise Payne has not ruled out returning to a combat role as part of a renewed strategy to beat back a resurgent Taliban.

Sources have told Fairfax Media they consider it likely Australia will receive a request for more military help beyond the present commitment of 300 training and advisory forces after US President Donald Trump vowed on Monday “we are not nation-building again, we are killing terrorists”.

In his much-anticipated speech outlining a fresh strategy 16 years since the US-led coalition toppled the Taliban, Mr Trump pledged a boost to American forces and said he expected allies to do the same.

A further request is not regarded as certain, however. Senator Payne stressed Australia was already making a “very considerable contribution” to the fight against various Islamist groups around the world but said the government would discuss potential increases.

“We will speak with our US colleagues and see what their expectations are on counterparts,” she said.

When asked whether the government would consider a return to a combat role, Senator Payne said: “We would always engage any consideration of any request on its own merits and in the interests of Australia.”

Australian troops in Afghanistan were dedicated to training and advising and there was “no contemplation of a change to that at this point in time”, she said, but added that “we will continue to work closely both with NATO and with the United States in terms of what Australia is asked to do and able to contribute”.

Defence Secretary James Mattis said he would consult with NATO and other allies and noted that “several of which have also committed to increasing their troop numbers”.

The ADF has about 270 troops training and advising in Afghanistan and has already committed to sending another 30, though it is waiting to co-ordinate with NATO and the US before sending those additional forces.

A possible training role for the Australian Defence Force in the Philippines, where local forces are fighting Islamic State-affiliated groups, is likely to factor into the government’s thinking on any request on Afghanistan.

Australia also has more than 300 trainers and several dozen special forces advisers in Iraq. And the RAAF is flying P-3 Orion spy planes over the southern Philippines to help local forces against a fierce and bloody Islamic State-backed insurgency.

Mr Trump, whose speech at a military base outside Washington was broadly well-received by defence analysts, did not specify US troop numbers. Mr Trump said he would not set targets or withdrawal dates that the insurgents could wait out.

He said Washington would ask allies and partners “to support our new strategy with additional troop and funding increases in line with our own” and added, “we are confident they will”.

US media have reported Mr Trump will increase American troops by 4000 – a rise of nearly 50 per cent on the roughly 8400 US forces there now.

In the past, Australian special forces soldiers have carried out raids to kill or capture high value Taliban targets. They have ended this role but US forces are still carrying out these raids.

Mr Trump’s long-awaited strategy also included putting more pressure on Pakistan to stop harbouring Taliban fighters, and giving greater authority to military commanders on the ground to run the military operations.

Afghanistan veteran Chris May, who served two tours between the ages of 19 and 21 and suffered a fractured neck followed by post-traumatic stress disorder after his vehicle hit a roadside bomb, said many soldiers felt the previous coalition draw down had been premature.

Mr May, who now runs a group called Young Veterans, said when Diggers he knew saw parts of Oruzgan province retaken by the Taliban after Australia withdrew, “a part of their heart fell out because blood, sweat and tears went into fighting on that ground”.

“It wasn’t for us – it was for the Afghans. But our impact in that small part of the country was such a big impact.”

By some estimates, the Afghan government now controls less than 60 percent of the area of the country.

Former Chief of Army Peter Leahy, who now heads Canberra University’s National Security Institute, said the new approach was an improvement and would “give them a chance to win but it won’t happen quickly”.

“Potentially this is decades,” he said. “It’s not going to be a military victory. That’s the best element of the strategy is he’s talking not just about military but diplomatic and economic power as well.”

Jacinta Carroll, a defence expert with the Australian National University’s, said she was “encouraged” by Mr Trump’s speech.

“Overall, it’s very sensible and encompasses the range of things that are at play,” she said.

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