Senator’s campaign just a cover for a new tax
Last week’s Senate inquiry into the private member’s bill, the Tax Laws Amendment (Public Benefit Test) Bill 2010, was only allowed to run with the credence and terms of reference of a broad ranging review of the tax exempt status for all charities and religions in Australia.
A very different story became apparent when questioning began. It was heavily slanted with witnesses against one religion under the guise of a tax inquiry.
Senator Doug Cameron notably kept his questions on track and asked intelligent, direct and reasoned questions.
But despite repeated reassurances by Liberal Senator Alan Eggleston as the inquiry Chair that “the behaviour of specific individuals and organisations is not within the terms of reference of this committee”, five former Scientologists were invited by Senator Xenophon to appear before the committee where they, to put it colloquially, dumped a bucket on the Church.
Don’t worry about the fact that these five people have made other allegations that have been dismissed as baseless by police and coroners. Where were the “victims” of other religions? Nowhere to be seen.
What is bitterly disappointing to Australian Scientologists is that Senator Xenophon still refuses to meet with them and hear their side of the story, see how they live and work, and learn for himself of the public benefit of their religion that they personally contribute to and work on – a story that is never heard in the controversy of a current affairs show or a 15 second sound bite.
Surely the situation demands a firsthand examination and open talk with both sides. After such a protracted media campaign, with nothing new being said and the old allegations firmly debunked, why can’t current Scientologists get a fair go at telling their story?
Last week on radio the Senator blamed his office staff for this failure to meet with real life Scientologists. The following day, he twice refused meeting again. He gave the coming election as a reason why he could not visit when asked in person at the hearing. An election not yet announced, and one which won’t affect him, because his term as a Senator will not conclude until 2014.
In his thirst to hunt down those perceived to have done wrong, Senator Xenophon now wants to place at risk charitable status of all churches and charities.
For many charities this will involve onerous compliance costs and potential retrospective taxation.
First there was the super-profits tax.
Now Australian charities and churches should brace for the supernatural tax.
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