The ABC has removed an article by one of its most high-profile journalists criticising the Turnbull government’s proposed company tax cuts, on the grounds that it “did not meet ABC editorial standards”.
The article, written by economics correspondent and former Lateline host Emma Alberici, was published on Wednesday under the headline “There’s no case for a corporate tax cut when one in five corporations don’t pay it”.
It argued that the government had provided “no sufficient evidence” that cutting the company tax rate from 30 per cent to 25 per cent was warranted.
It was a companion piece to a news article that reported some of Australia’s biggest companies had not paid any corporation tax in three years.
The ABC said it had updated the accompanying news story to “add further information and context”, but had not removed it.
The ABC issued a statement explaining its decision to remove the article Friday afternoon, after it had been picked up by a number news outlets.
“ABC News Online published two stories on corporate tax rates – a news story examining why many large Australian companies do not corporate tax and an analysis of proposed changes to company tax rates,” the statement read.
“The news report has been updated to add further information and context. The analysis piece did not meet ABC editorial standards and has been removed for further review.”
While Ms Alberici’s article is no longer available, the opening paragraph from it still shows up on a Google search, as seen below.
“There is no compelling evidence that giving the country’s biggest companies a tax cut sees that money passed on to workers in the form of higher wages. Treasury modelling relies on theories that belie the reality that’s playing out around the world. Since the peak of the commodities boom in 2011-12, profit …” it reads.
But clicking on the link takes you to the following page:
A Facebook post by the Victorian branch of Australian Manufacturing Workers Union quoted a further paragraph from the article.
“It’s also disingenuous to talk about a 30 per cent rate when so few companies pay anything like that thanks to tax legislation that allows them to avoid paying corporate tax,” the AMWU quoted the article as saying.
The “legislation” in question refers to rules that allow companies to carry forward losses from previous years, which they can use to reduce future tax bills.
As The New Daily reported this week, mining giant Glencore has used this rule to carry forward losses on the purchase of Xstrata in 2013. This has meant last year the company did not pay a cent of tax, and actually received a rebate of $37 million.
The ABC would not tell The New Daily the precise reason for removing the article. But a spokesperson said it was not a result of pressure from the government or businesses.
The ABC Act requires the national broadcaster “to ensure that the gathering and presentation by the Corporation of news and information is accurate and impartial according to the recognised standards of objective journalism”.
Last year, One Nation insisted that a clause requiring the ABC to be “fair and balanced” be inserted into the ABC Act as a condition for its support of the government’s sweeping media reforms.