It seems that your government officials at all levels are in the business of supporting the corporate kleptocrats. They do not have the interests of the people as their core operating principal.
Take for a start the hundreds of local Melbourne council fat cats earning big salaries, with about 150 senior staff on more than $130,000-plus (2013-14) and CEO Dr Kathy Alexander on a $460,000 annual package – ALL supporting their bloated existence with more FINES on the populace.
Fines and More Fines
The state government (Victoria, Australia) raked in almost $300 million from road safety cameras last year, with newly installed fixed cameras in 40 and 50km/h zones emerging as some of the most lucrative. And I’m sure they are delighted when the media brand toll road dodgers as wanted criminals.
Take (activist) Santos Bonacci for example (described as above). He has been slammed with $132,000 in fines – and was threatened with 916 days in jail for failing to pay tolls. He is now ‘on the run’ and is a WANTED man. And anyone with information can contact Crime Stoppers. But I wonder how Crime Stoppers would react if someone called up and reported the members of the Howard government for taking part in the illegal war in Iraq (which killed hundreds of thousands) – citing Article 33 and 51 in The Charter of the United Nations?
But no, the focus is on the weak and vulnerable, like another toll dodger Isabelle Maree Weir. Between July 2008 and December 2013, the single mum (with some issues) had accrued $342,050 in fines, predominantly for unpaid tolls on EastLink and CityLink. It sounds like she must been (criminally) driving up and down the road 24/7. But no. I guess that she may have been taking her autistic son (with speech and behavioural issues) somewhere. Thankfully, Magistrate Pauline Spencer gave this disadvantaged woman a break ordering her to pay just $16,000 over the next 26 years.
But it begs the question: How is it possible to rack up fines of such unbelievable proportion for such minor infractions? Doesn’t this show there something terribly skewed with the system – that skipping $2.17 or more (even multiple times) can result in such disproportionate punishment.
And what if you are a struggling student (maybe with no parental support) and your Myki transport card didn’t top up in time (sometimes taking 24 hours). Well expect to pay $217 – or an on-the-spot-very-special-discount penalty fare of $75.
Proportional Fines? No Way
But if (and that is a very big IF) you are caught insider trading – or maybe you are Leighton Holdings, allegedly sitting on undisclosed write-downs of more than $2 billion. Well don’t worry. You won’t have to pay more than the single-mum-with-autistic-child-toll-dodger. The current maximum civil penalty for crimes like insider trading and market manipulation in Australia is around $200,000.
I’m sure they won’t be counting up each fraudulent infraction or transaction (like they did with Isabelle Weir) with a $200,000 fine per accounting ‘slip’. I mean, this could add to up to tens of millions! No way. You see, the politicians have worked their magic by demonizing the little guy in the mainstream media to frighten every one to tow the line. But they will not dare to shame or jail the big end of town (except if its revenge – like Peter Slipper and his cab vouchers).
This is what Ian Verrender wrote in The Drum: “The Government should scrap ASIC and start over again. Even describing the body as a corporate regulator is stretching it… it hasn’t regulated anything for years”.
The space for the Federal Square East Project.
It is big business collecting fines from private-public partnerships. So is this what government has become – a kind of Private-Public Partnership operating for the Private Sector?
Premier Dennis Napthine and his Victorian ministers are talking about handing over to a developer – free-of-charge – the prize section of public land for the Federation Square East project if it wins re-election. But you can bet that the government will give the developer further assistance down the line. But at least there are opposing voices. Professor March “…It seems as if it’s just another project oriented towards a short-term private sector goal“, and Greens councillor Rohan Leppert described the proposal as “a dangerous new step for the way public lands are being treated”.
But today – more good news for the kleptocrats:
Political gamble: Victorian government power sold to Crown Casino. Peter Martin from The age writes:
“Napthine signed away his right to make laws that tackled gambling and smoking in an extraordinary deal waved through Parliament days before the election campaign. The law not only restricts the actions of the Napthine government should it get back, but the actions of every future Victorian government for the next 36 years.
Should a future government decide to impose a $1 betting limit on poker machines (as recommended by the Productivity Commission); should it decide to enforce the use of precommitment technology on poker machines; or should it require automatic teller machines to be further away from poker machines, it’ll be up for a $200 million payment to Crown. The size of the penalty will climb with inflation. By the time the provision expires in 2050 the penalty will be $480 million. More.
In return for binding future governments this one gets an upfront payment of $250 million. (The government is spinning it as a payment of $910 million, but it’s nothing like that much… etc.)
Put starkly Crown (the casino) gets the right to impose fines of $200 million any time a new government comes in and changes the law to Crown’s disadvantage, for the next 36 years. In return the government gets an immediate payment of $250 million plus a few lesser payments later”.
Handing over Power to the Corporates
It feels like the fat cats sitting in (local) government have handed their power over to the corporate kleptocrats a long time ago.