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Photo of John McRobert

John McRobert

John McRobert is a Civil Engineer born and bred in Qld., starting life in the coal fields of Oakey where mullock heaps dominated the 'pit paddock' on which grazed the family cow.

After finishing secondary school at Toowoomba State High in 1956, he completed a civil engineering degree at the University of Queensland during which time he did National Service Training, took out the marksman trophies, and won a Full Blue at the University for Rifle Shooting.

Coal fields, milch cows and targeting major issues, have since played a major part in his life, particularly over the 16 years from 1971 to 1987, when he worked for the Utah Development Company, firstly as Owner's Representative for the construction of Hay Point Port and in various civil engineering positions until (along with 30% of the staff) accepting the voluntary retrenchment package offered by the company as it restructured, crushed in the jaws of falling coal prices and rising costs. The biggest factor in the rising costs, was and is, the TAX factor. Federal, State and Local Governments, had milked too much from the greatest milch cow in the country.

Apart from the sheer cost of a multitude of taxes on the operations of the company, it became increasingly apparent that the Tax impact on engineering decisions in many cases overwhelmed technical considerations - and when McRobert was asked to evaluate the Current Replacement Value of the company's assets in Central Queensland, the nonsense of CPI Indices and of the myriad ways of determining Taxable Profit, sowed the first seeds of an idea that later resulted in his publishing a book on major tax reform in 1985. The ideas presented in that book have been debated in many forums since and are being more widely accepted as a logical solution to the economic ills that are ruining this country. Early in 1991, the New South Wales branch of ASBA, the Australian Small Business Association, supported the arguments outlined in the book, and instigated a major economic study by Unisearch to investigate the effects of replacing Income Taxes with a simple, universal Receipts Tax. The Unisearch computer model was first completed for the years 1988-89, 89-90, 90-91, and substantiated the original figures which were based on the 1981-82 statistics, indicating the inherent stability of the proposal to base government revenue on a small, fixed component of gross income. The model was then upgraded to cover the years 1992-93, 93-94, 94-95, and again the stability of one consistent tax at a set rate is immediately apparent. The Gold Mining Industry Council also discovered the disadvantages of profit based taxes and one of their major studies endorses the abandonment of all Income Taxes, both Company and Personal, in favour of expenditure (a.k.a. receipts or spending) based taxes.

Before joining the Utah Development Company, during the 1960s McRobert worked on major development projects for the State Govt Co-ordinator Generals Dept, Ford, Bacon and Davis (a consulting group), and the Main Roads Dept, and during this time worked in Cloncurry (Mt Isa Rail Project), Collinsville (Powerhouse Water Supply), Gladstone (Moura Rail Project) and Brisbane (Captain Cook Bridge et al)

McRobert was Qld President of the CIA (Concrete Institute of Australia) in 1977-78 and in 1979 instigated the Minerals and Energy Club of Australia, the first new major licensed business club in Brisbane for some 75 years, being an active member of the board over the ensuing 12 years. The Club brought together the entire spectrum of business and professional people from its inception, and hosted hundreds of lunch and dinner forums allowing industry views to be effectively heard by many. It was savagely mauled by the notorious Fringe Benefits Tax in 1985, and was sold up by the Receivers in October 1990, a victim of the recession we all 'had to have'.

Since leaving BHP / Utah in September 1987, McRobert started a desktop publishing company - CopyRight Publishing - which has since published over 100 books including full colour high quality plant identification and fine art publications with sales across the world.

In his spare time he gives addresses on tax reform and writes numerous letters and articles on this and other environmental topics, holding strongly to the view that the proposed Carbon Tax is a lot of hot air, and that if we fix our economic environment first, we will be better equipped to deal with man-made pollution. Fundamental tax reform, not just another patch such as the VAT/GST, is the only answer to most of Australia's social and economic problems.

Author's website: CopyRight Publishing

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