Oxfam releases new hard-hitting film set to bring home the human cost of tax-dodging

Campaigns and Advocacy, Media Releases, News article written on the 30 Oct 2017

Oxfam has today released a hard-hitting film to bring home the human impact of tax-dodging by multinational companies in poor countries.

The confronting film, The Heist No-one is Talking About (2.23 mins),  shows people with masks carrying out a robbery – but instead of a bank, it is a hospital; they are filmed removing life support and other essential equipment from patients.

The film was made for Oxfam by Don’t Panic, and is being used to build on the global public momentum against tax-dodging by big companies, and worsening inequality.

Oxfam Australia’s Director of Public Engagement Pam Anders said Oxfam wanted to highlight the fact that while corporate tax avoidance stripped developing countries of vital funds needed for hospitals, millions of the world’s poorest people were missing out on basic medical treatment that could save their lives and help them escape hardship.

Ms Anders said Oxfam had made the film to further build public support for a solution to the problem of widespread tax avoidance that sees at least US $100 billion ripped out of poor countries every year.

“The shocking reality is that just a third of the US $100bn of tax that companies dodge in poor countries annually is enough to cover the bill for essential healthcare that could prevent the needless deaths of eight million mothers, babies and children,” Ms Anders said.

“That’s because experts estimate that US $30bn is needed to pay for basic healthcare such as vaccinations, midwives and diarrhoea treatment that could prevent an average of 7.8m children and 210,000 women dying each year in 74 countries with large numbers of people living in poverty.

“By using such a bold approach, we’re aiming to bring to life a complicated issue and show how there is a human cost to tax avoidance – particularly in the world’s poorest countries.”

Ms Anders said if not for the public outrage over tax avoidance by wealthy firms and individuals, brought about by leaks like Panama Papers and LuxLeaks, we would not have seen politicians give so much attention to tax avoidance in Australia and around the world.

Oxfam is asking people to share the video and demand the Australian Government do more to tackle multinational tax avoidance.

“The Australian Government has started to tackle the issue of companies hiding their profits in tax havens, which is a good first step but doesn’t go far enough,” Ms Anders said.  “The Federal Government also needs to introduce public country-by-country reporting to further crack down on wealthy multinational companies that are shirking their responsibilities.”

Making these tax reports public would make it easier to verify whether companies’ tax bills are in line with their real economic activity in every country where they do business – and to hold them to account if not.

“We shouldn’t have to depend on leaks like the Panama Papers for this information to be revealed,” Ms Anders said.  “Tax-dodgers may not be literally stealing medicines from the pockets of the poorest but they’re depriving poor countries of billions of dollars that could be invested in healthcare. There can be no excuse for delaying tougher action against tax dodging.”

See the film here 

For more information, please contact Laurelle Keough on 0425 701 801 or laurellek@oxfam.org.au