OZ - whitefellas' dreaming

greenspun.com : LUSENET : TB2K spinoff uncensored : One Thread

Story Link

GST dreaming
Saturday 22 April 2000

TURKEY TOLSON TJUPURRULA doesn't look like one of Australia's most respected artists as he and his family struggle into the Alice Springs art gallery to begin a day of painting. Already frail after a recent illness, the respected Pintubi painter, whose work hangs in the National Museum of Australia collection in Canberra, is soaked to the bone. Last night he and his family slept outside on the ground in a torrential downpour. This morning they are dirty, wet and cold. The artist shivers as he begins painting, but he must keep working. He knows the cash he earns today will pay for the petrol he needs to drive his family back to their home community of Kintore, more than 500 kilometres into the desert. In rudimentary English, he tells the gallery owner he wants $400 for two small paintings.

Tolson will receive the $400 today, but come July 1, that price will be halved. According to the Australian Tax Office, on the day the GST is introduced, all indigenous artists will be required to hold an Australian Business Number if they produce work for profit. Only those deemed hobby artists will be exempt from holding an ABN. If they do not hold one or a hobby exemption, 48.5per cent of their fee will be deducted by the purchaser and remitted to Canberra as tax. "Bullshit," says Tolson, when told of the impending tax. "I'll take 'em somewhere else."

But on July 1, there will be nowhere else to go. On that day, the Aboriginal art industry is set to undergo massive change. For the first time, the thousands of indigenous artists who produce the lion's share of an industry worth an estimated $48.5 million in 1998-99 in the Northern Territory alone, will be scooped into the tax system. "The tax system has always looked the other way," explains Brisbane public accountant Brian Tucker, a tax specialist in the arts industry. "But now, all of a sudden, the ABN has big ramifications for Aboriginal artists. If they get an ABN it means that they are carrying on a business and can no longer accept benefits from Centrelink."

There are many traditional Aboriginal artists like Turkey Tolson Tjupurrula. They live in isolated bush communities in the most basic of accommodation. They survive on Centrelink benefits and whatever they can earn from the production of artwork. Some speak little or no English and have never participated in the tax system. The entire notion of tax, to most remote area Aborigines, remains totally foreign, a whitefella's dreaming.


This article continues on for those who wish to read it all. The above shows the extraordinary distance between politicians in Canberra with its bureaucracy and other Australians. I won't belabour the point other than noting this story is factual.

Regards from whitefellas' dreaming country

-- Pieter (zaadz@icisp.net.au), April 22, 2000


To the Power Elite we're just slaves to be exploited. HO HO HO - NWO!

-- freeman (freeman@JustSayNo.toNWO), April 22, 2000.

I couldn't resist copying this one (minus the names) and sending it on to Senator Richard Alston. If it does nothing else, it will tie up the bureaucrats for a while with some more paperwork as they are now required to send 'ordinary' people a reply!

-- Kerry (masz@southcom.com.au), April 22, 2000.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ