Australia politician slammed for Facebook gun photo

A photo of Australian Politician George Christensen carrying a gun posted on Facebook. (Facebook)
Updated 19 February 2018

Australia politician slammed for Facebook gun photo

SYDNEY: A conservative Australian politician who posted a photo of himself on Facebook holding a gun in a jibe at environmentalists was reported to police and slammed Monday as insensitive after a mass US school shooting.
George Christensen put up the image on Saturday showing him in a shooting stance with the comment “You gotta ask yourself, do you feel lucky, greenie punks?.”
He claimed it was a tongue-in-cheek reference to the “Dirty Harry” film franchise in which a police officer played by Clint Eastwood takes on “people who are conducting illegal activity, such as the greens are.”
The MP has been critical of environmentalists — sometimes backed by the Greens political party — who have tried to blockade mining projects, including chaining themselves to machinery.
The Facebook post was referred to the Australian Federal Police by the Greens, with their Senator Sarah Hanson-Young saying on Twitter she had received an emailed threat from one of Christensen’s supporters.
“Frankly, guns are not a joke and particularly in the wake of the massacre in the US only last week, 17 people shot dead, including children,” Hanson-Young told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull called the post “very inappropriate.” It was also widely criticized by politicians from other parties.
Christensen, whose National party is the junior partner in the government’s ruling coalition, later deleted it but responded defiantly, saying: “I’m not going to be moralized to by these extreme greens who put the livelihoods, safety and lives of other people at risk.”
He said the post had nothing to do with the American shooting last week where a 19-year-old killed 17 people at his former high school, claiming instead it was a comment on environmentalists’ “illegal activism on mine sites.”
Australia has tough gun laws that include bans on certain weapons, a minimum age, licenses and secure storage, after a mass shooting at the historic Tasmanian colonial convict site of Port Arthur in 1996 where 35 people were killed.
The uproar is the latest headache for the ruling Liberal-National coalition, with Turnbull last week publicly criticizing Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce for his affair with a younger former staffer who is now pregnant with his child.


Tech giants such as Google, Facebook seek to defer Indian digital tax

Updated 14 min 39 sec ago

Tech giants such as Google, Facebook seek to defer Indian digital tax

  • India announced last week that, from Apr. 1, all foreign billings for digital services provided in the country would attract a 2% tax
  • Executives from top technology companies got together on conference calls organized by US-India business lobby groups last week

NEW DELHI, March 31 : Big US tech firms such as Google and Facebook plan to seek deferment of a new Indian digital tax, which has caught them off-guard as businesses battle the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, three industry sources told Reuters.
India announced last week that, from Apr. 1, all foreign billings for digital services provided in the country would attract a 2% tax. Foreign billings are where companies take payment abroad for a service provided to customers in India.
The tax would also apply to e-commerce transactions on websites such as Amazon.com, as well as advertising revenue earned from companies overseas if it eventually “targets a customer” in India, the government said.
Executives from top technology companies got together on conference calls organized by US-India business lobby groups last week, and decided to seek a deferment of at least six months, said the three people aware of the talks. They asked not to be named as the discussions were private.
Google is particularly concerned that it will not be able to swiftly identify countries where advertising arrangements were in place to target Indian users, increasing technological and compliance requirements, according to one of the sources.
“Everyone is grappling. In the current downturn, the focus is on protecting the business hit due to coronavirus,” said the source who works for a global technology company and described the tax as a “big, big headache.”
Google and Amazon declined to comment, while Facebook did not respond to Reuters queries. India’s finance ministry also did not respond.
India-US tensions
The extent of possible compliance disruptions caused by the tax, a so-called equalization levy, was not immediately clear, nor was how much India could garner from the tax.
Indruj Rai, a partner at law firm Khaitan & Co, said the government’s move appeared aimed at taxing foreign companies which had a significant local client base but were billing them through their offshore, or foreign, units.
“The timing of the introduction of the levy appears to be an attempt to increase revenue collections during the pandemic,” Rai added.
The new tax was inserted in the 2020-21 budget amendments passed last week, giving companies only a few days to prepare. The levy was not part of budget proposals first presented on Feb. 1.
India and the United States remain at loggerheads over a wide array of tariffs. The digital tax has alarmed the US government, which has reviewed it, but Washington is not immediately likely to raise concerns with New Delhi given priorities over the coronavirus, said a fourth source aware of the US government’s thinking.
The US Embassy in New Delhi did not respond to a request for comment.