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Tony Abbott hides real issues under the burqa

The burqa is a terrible threat to Australia. Who'd a thunk it? But I can put a hard currency value on that threat if you want. Eight billion dollars a year. That's not the cost of new security measures at Parliament House to prevent al-Qaeda or ISIS transvestites sneaking past the front desk in their cunning murder frocks.

No. It's the cost of being distracted from the politics of real things - like broad scale tax avoidance by more than half of the top listed companies on the ASX - and instead devoting our attention and energies to ridiculous BS.

<i>Illustration: Glen Le Lievre</i>
Illustration: Glen Le Lievre 

After Monday's revelations that most of Australia's biggest companies - the miners, the banks, the property moguls - pay laughably little tax, and multinationals pay virtually none, Muslim Fashion Week was actually a gift for Tony Abbott.

He started the week a tad discomforted by the greed and calumny of corporate Australia and regained some control complaining that he found the burqa a "fairly confronting form of attire, and frankly, I wish it weren't worn".

Egregious hypocrisy much? This, after all, came from a middle-aged white man who seems to revel in confronting a captive nation with his favoured form of weekend attire; tiny red porno trunks that serve only to draw the unwilling eye directly to the most horrifying aspect of this hairy, dripping wet horror when it is thrust prominently and repeatedly into our slack and traumatised faces.

Still, Toned Abs was exposed, and being able to reach for the burqa to cover himself was of almost inestimable value.

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It's value to Rupert Murdoch, on the other hand, was totes more estimable. According to Monday's reports, his company, 21st Century Fox, pays less than 1 per cent tax in Australia. Nice work if you can get it, but not as nice as the $880 million refund Fox scored last year for a simple company restructure in which no money actually changed hands. Well, no money except that $880 million refund the ATO then had to whip out of your pants to pay off the old devil.

You can see why he was so put out by everyone talking about this when they should have been talking about welfare cheats, crooked unions and killer trannies from Absurdistan. "NO tax avoidance by News, Fox or any Murdochs in Australia," thundered the Maximum Murdoch on Twitter. "Courts ruled, so move on!"

You have to wonder if this is how he talks to prime ministers when he has them alone. "Just do as you're told, Abbott! And for God's sake put some pants on, you idiot!"

But what you mostly have to wonder is how many of these holy wars his newspapers are so keen on we could actually afford to fight if his companies paid their taxes like you do. 

Losing $8 billion a year to corporate tax bludgers is one thing. Losing one actual dollar to a crafty schnitzel bludger is another. The North Wollongong Hotel lost thousands of them, dollars and schnitties, to their cook, Kobina Amponsem, who was bold enough to turn around and sue the popular watering hole for dudding him on unpaid leave when he ... er, left.

Which is to say, when they kicked him to the kerb after discovering the pan handler had been handing them grossly inflated bills for schnitzels which he'd been getting from his wife. Or which she'd been getting from him, and selling to them. Or something.

The whole thing read like a diabolically complex tax effective investment prospectus from one of the big four accounting firms, the auditors of choice for those top 200 listed companies who find the whole business of paying their fair share of tax simply intolerable. 

The Federal Court, having been tapped by Amponsem to secure his entitlements, instead found the chef had been buying the schnitzels at about a buck eighty, passing ownership of said schnitzels through his wife's company, which then on-sold the schnitties in question to the poor unsuspecting pub for a healthy markup.

About the only thing missing was a post office box in Bermuda or the Virgin Islands to park the delicious profits next to Westfield's and BHP's.

No reports on what Amponsem is up to these days, but if Ernst & Young are looking for a company chef, or some fresh and aggressive talent for their tax management team, they could do no better than the Gong's former schnitzel bandit.

Eight billion dollars gone missing from the coffers wasn't the only thing you may have missed while worrying about illusory threats to Team Straya. So much ice has gone missing from Antarctica that it's altered the planet's gravity.

The European Space Agency found that so much ice has now melted that the gravity field down there has been measurably affected. 

At the other end of the world - "end of the world", see where I'm going with this? - so much ice has gone that 35,000 walruses who would normally haul themselves atop the gently bobbing ice floes for a bit of a kip after a long hard day of chasing seals have instead swarmed on shore in Alaska. Because there are no ice floes there now.

Meanwhile in Greenland, the surviving ice sheet has turned black, probably from increased soot deposits as the world heats up and more forests burn, and from less fresh snowfall as the world heats up and ... well, you get it.

But don't worry, Maurice Newman, the Prime Minister's business advisor, knows what's needed; an inquiry into the Bureau of Meteorology "to dispel suspicions of a warming bias" in its data.

Perhaps while we conduct that inquisition we could save a bit of money with another traitor hunt, looking for any unAustralians who might have snuck in there, disguised in a burqa.

Twitter: @JohnBirmingham

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