Paul Murray: There's a hole in our tax system worth billions
THE ATO has admitted it will miss about $8.7 billion in income tax this year.
The figure came out in a briefing to the media and amazingly it expects to track down about only $500 million and get it back into the system.
The admission is because people will underquote what they earn or play the system to get deductions they shouldn't.
But for all the talk about getting tough on multinationals it seems like it's time to get serious about our own affairs.
Does the ATO need more people, better technology or tougher laws to stop this?
Whatever it wants, the government should give it; $8.7 billion isn't a leak, it's a flood of money we need to balance the budget, pay for things to be built or, dare I say, pay back the half a trillion dollars we owe the rest of the world.
PM SETTING POWER BILL HURDLE TOO HIGH
This week we got a major plan to bring down power prices from the Competition and Consumer Commission.
While there's no single silver bullet, the commission fired a few, such as getting government to set minimum prices for anyone who wants to add to baseload power.
This would mean you could spend billions on a coal-fired power station and know you will get a certain amount of money back for the investment over the next 15 years.
But of course, we all know how this goes.
Lefties are coal snobs. They are happy for us to make billions from digging it up and sending it to poor countries to burn for power, but we can't burn it here.
No, they prefer billions being spent on wind farms and solar, which are weather dependent and don't have any way of storing the power our big country needs.
But we have all heard this argument before.
My concern this week is the Prime Minister painting himself into a corner about power prices.
He wants to own this issue and believes his national energy guarantee will bring down prices, but the problem is if it does, it won't be by much.
Turnbull is in a bind here; he chose to make power prices, now power reliability, a federal issue, even though successive state governments have sold off their power companies and these companies are now free to charge like wounded bulls.
These companies also know there is more money in building renewables, not the coal plants that work.
Now it's true that wholesale prices have fallen a little, and power companies are saying they are going to pass on the savings, but we are talking $20 or $30 a year for customers.
So forgive us if we don't hold a parade for the PM in the streets when bills have gone up by hundreds in the past few years.
The political danger for Turnbull is while he can say prices have technically fallen, when they are just a fraction below record highs, no one is going to say thank you.
The only thing worse is Shorten's pledge to race us to 50/50 renewables in the next 12 years, forcing billions to be spent building the wind and solar that is, once again, weather dependent and unable to store the power we need to keep the lights on in 2020.
Paul Murray is a broadcaster with Sky News. He can be seen on Paul Murray LIVE on Foxtel 9-11pm Sunday to Thursday nights.