How can we get a Yeppoon lagoon

WOULDN'T it be great if a private benefactor stumped up the cash to pay for the big tourist attraction everyone seems to agree Yeppoon needs and deserves?

It might cost $30-$40 million to build a world-class beachfront lagoon. Realistically, that's small change to the international mining conglomerates sinking billions into Central Queensland's resources sector to extract billions more.

But with mining tax and carbon tax and capital gains and royalties and who knows what else to pay, it's no wonder they are reluctant to give away any of what remains, no matter the public relations gains.

The main problem is all forms of government - local, state and federal - are ridiculously inefficient users of the money they receive.

All taxpayers, private and corporate, can point to examples of shocking waste like the Federal Government's home insulation bungle. Politicians love to spend our money and boast with relish about how much of it they are spending to solve problems when it would be far more sensible to crow about how they had solved those problems without spending more than necessary.

Vast sums are frittered away on consultants and meaningless reports and top-heavy bureaucracies. That's the real reason ruthlessly efficient and profitable businesses hate paying taxes. They know they could do so much better.

So here's an idea. What if there was a system that allowed companies to write-off every cent they spent on projects to benefit society against their tax liabilities?

If BMA, for example, built Yeppoon's lagoon for $30 million, that's $30 million it didn't have to pay in tax.

It's just a thought, but isn't it likely we would see an explosion in good corporate citizenry? Businesses would be falling over themselves to build hospital wings, provide rescue helicopters, build sports pavilions, fund homeless projects and give mini-buses to worthy causes. All it would require was an overseeing body to declare the project being funded fulfilled a genuine need that would otherwise be met from tax. Companies big and small would be more than happy to help because they had a say in the good they were doing and could ensure that their money was spent wisely.

The only losers would be the politicians. That's why, with all modesty, I think this idea is just brilliant.

An Englishman abroad with Adrian Taylor



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