Australian corporate welfare — free handouts to business — is a tale of commercial intrigue, political hypocrisy, back room deals, kickbacks and official cover-ups. The Greens have recently lifted the lid on this corruption with a detailed report, yet for something that should have made headlines across the country, it was mostly stifled and swept away quickly in the media. Here’s the basic story for those who missed it.
Each year $8 – $14 billion of our money is being handed out to the corporate sector in direct grants and tax breaks. These are hardly struggling entities either. It’s difficult to comprehend — $8 billion. That’s more than the entire amount spent on unemployment and sickness benefits each year!!!
The tougher things become for the unemployed, the more the Howard Government cries “accountability.” Welfare recipients are made to feel like third-class citizens, students are forced to mortgage their future, public schools and hospitals are starved of adequate resources, yet the corporate welfare recipients are treated with kid gloves and caviar.
Why are these corporate bludgers never made to account for their handouts? Where do all the government “Assistance Packages” end up? Why are there no strings attached, no tendering processes for many, no scrutiny, no paybacks if the project fails, no accountability whatsoever? Students must pay back assistance, why not Comalco and BHP?
There are some 800 “assistance measures” for private companies to put their hands out for. Subsidies for all types of financial aid from power to infrastructure and tax concessions.