THE HON ANDREW LEIGH
SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER
THE HON BERNIE RIPOLL MP
SHADOW MINISTER ASSISTING THE LEADER FOR SMALL BUSINESS
Abbott’s axe to hurt small business at the worst possible time
Business is unhappy with the Abbott Government’s plans to cut the loss carry-back scheme and the instant asset write-off.
This week the Abbott Government will vote to axe tax breaks for Australian small businesses introduced by Labor.
“Mr Abbott is taking an axe to a tax break for small business,” said Shadow Assistant Treasurer, Dr Andrew Leigh.
“By reducing the thresholds available under the small business asset write-off regime from $6500 to $1000, Mr Abbott is adding complexity and compliance costs for small businesses.”
Under Labor’s plan companies can carry a tax loss back and receive a refund by claiming a tax offset against the tax they had previously paid – known as a loss carry-back tax offset.
“The Government needs to explain why it is increasing costs and red-tape for small business,” said Shadow Minister Assisting the Leader for Small Business, Bernie Ripoll.
”How can they promise to reduce $1billion of red tape, then makes cuts that increase red tape and compliance costs for small business?”
“This is just another example of the Government’s rhetoric not matching up with its actions.”
“Australians running small businesses are quickly learning that they did not get the government that they were promised.”
The Australian Industry Group (AiGroup) and the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) told a Senate Inquiry that scrapping nearly $4 billion in tax concessions will increase compliance costs and reduce investment returns at a time when small business needs all the help it can get.
“We do not support the repeal of the loss carry-back provisions and we do not support the proposal to reduce the small business asset write-off threshold.”
“The proposal to remove the instant write-off facility for small business will have a material impact on them and will decrease investment at the time it is needed most.” – Dr Peter Burn, AiGroup
And support retaining the Instant Asset Write-Off by saying:
“It relieves business of all the paperwork, it reduces the costs they have to pay their accountants and gives them more time in their businesses-less money to the accountants and more money for reinvestment” - Dr Burn
“We do support the retention of the instant asset write-off provisions and the provisions relating to carry-back of losses, which are measures that support small business.” - Mr Peter Anderson, ACCI
The Senate Economics Committee is due to release its report on the MRRT repeal bills on Monday.
Sunday, 1 December 2013
Archive for the ‘Business’ Category.
This morning I spoke with Fairfax Media’s Tim Lester for Breaking Politics, exploring news of the day. I was asked about on-going revelations Coalition MPs, including Prime Minister Tony Abbott, have repaid tax payer funded outings, the impact of the US Congress budget impasse and about the rights of West Papuans to express their concerns. Here’s the full transcript:
BREAKING POLITICS – FAIRFAX MEDIA
TIM LESTER: When is it legitimate for an MP to claim his or her travel expenses on the taxpayer? Going to weddings for example. There are some numerous and now some notorious cases out there. To help us fathom this issues and others, our regular for Monday, joining us this week on a Tuesday because of holidays is Andrew Leigh, the MP for Fraser, Labor MP. Thank you for coming in Andrew.
ANDREW LEIGH: Thanks.
LESTER: Tony Abbott attended weddings several years ago. Now, one of them was Peter Slipper’s several years ago now. He claimed the costs. The taxpayers paid for him. He’s now paid it back seven years later when the issue surfaces as contentious. Has he done the right thing or the wrong thing?
LEIGH: Mr Abbott’s seems to have a fairly expansive view of entitlements and you’re beginning to see a bit of a pattern here. Like the Howard Government which had seven ministers resign early on as a result of various scandals including travel expenses scandals. There are now four Coalition cabinet ministers, including the Prime Minister who are under investigation here. I guess what worries me is that if they’re taking that sort of approach to these cases that we know about, what approach do they take to public expenses more broadly? That plays into a broader question over schemes such as paid parental leave which I think demonstrate an even more cavalier approach to the public finances.
LESTER: So, the various cases of weddings that we’ve seen here where these MPs have gone along and claimed on the taxpayer, they should not have done that?
LEIGH: I certainly don’t believe so. I mean it’s great to see Coalition MPs going to weddings. They’re so excited by them, you wonder how they can be against same-sex marriage. But this strikes me as an entirely personal matter and I’m surprised they’ve claimed for it.
My Chronicle column this month continues the community-building theme, with a discussion of community-business partnerships.
Community Help from Business and Government, The Chronicle, 3 September 2013
A few weeks ago, I attended the opening of MLC Advice Canberra, a new financial planning business run by 30 year-old Michael Miller. In my role as your federal MP, I go to a lot of office openings, but this one was different. Alongside the finance boffins were a veritable who’s who of Canberra community organisations.
Care Inc director Carmel Franklin came along because Michael serves on her board. Others came to recognise his donations. With each new client, Michael makes a donation to Diabetes ACT, Menslink, or the UC Foundation for regional and Indigenous youth. When I asked him about this, Michael smiled and replied ‘Well, I’m young and I don’t have kids. The business is doing well, so why shouldn’t I help others too?’
Government has an important role in reducing disadvantage, whether it’s through DisabilityCare, Indigenous employment programs, or uncapping university places so more children can be the first in their family to get a tertiary education. But we also need to unleash the potential of Australia’s charities. Partly, that’s about the new Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission, which will reduce the burden of regulation and reporting. But it’s also about encouraging collaborations between innovative businesses and great charities.
I appeared on ABC RN Drive with Waleed Aly and Arthur Sinodinos last night, discussing special economic zones, Coalition costings, minority government, and Waleed turning 35. Here’s a podcast.
I spoke in parliament today about the launch of Entry 29, Canberra’s newest place for start-ups.
Innovation in Canberra, 27 March 2013
Last Wednesday, I attended the launch of Entry 29, a co-working innovation space located just on the edge of the ANU campus in Acton. The name Entry 29 has a terrific connection to Canberra’s history. In the federal capital design competition to design Canberra, 137 entries were submitted and the winner was the 29th entrant. In memory of Canberra’s history and with an eye to Canberra’s future, the Canberra community decided to call this innovation space Entry 29.
This is really exciting for local families and business in the Civic area. In around 12 months’ time, people in Civic will be able to start connecting to the National Broadband Network. The map shows that NBN fibre is being rolled out Civic, Acton and parts of Braddon which will allow more residents access to faster, affordable and more reliable broadband.
The map is another sign that construction of the National Broadband Network is continuing to accelerate, with work now having commenced or been completed to over 784,000 homes and businesses across Australia. The release of this map means that work is starting in this area and over the next few months, we’ll start to see NBN Co workers locally doing the detailed planning and inspection work, and then rolling out the fibre. Within around twelve months, construction of the NBN in Civic will be completed. This means that families and businesses will be able to connect to faster, more reliable broadband services. A standard NBN connection to the home or office is free – and NBN retail services are available for similar prices to what people are paying now, but for a much superior service.
The National Broadband Network is about preparing Australia for the future. It’s about ensuring that our local communities in places like Canberra are not left behind as the world and our local economy changes. From seeing your local doctor from home, to your kids being able to take a specialist class at another school – the NBN will change the way we live, work, and access services. It will lead to a new wave of innovation, and I’m delighted that people in Civic will be among the first to benefit.
I recently attended the Australia-China forum in Beijing and was a part of a breakfast panel discussing various political issues. We covered off the Asian Century White Paper and optimism in Australian politics during the session. The audio from the panel is available below.
I spoke in parliament yesterday about supermarket competition, the importance of standing on the side of consumers, and why I’m proud to be a practitioner of the ‘dismal science’.
Matter of Public Importance, 15 August 2012
I rise to speak on this matter of public importance relating to supermarket competition, with a particular focus on the importance of maintaining lower prices for consumers. Much of Australia’s economic history in the post-war decades is characterised by a somewhat unholy alliance across the major parties to protect producer interests at the expense of consumer interests. So much of the ‘protection all-round’ that prevailed in the 1950s and 1960s meant that Australians paid high prices and that there was less foreign investment. We were less exposed to trade. Our firms were less competitive and our consumers suffered for that. One of the great achievements of the last generation of economic policy makers, thanks to people on both sides of the House, is that we have put the consumer first.
I spoke in parliament yesterday about a valuable roundtable on boosting innovation.
Innovation Roundtable, 14 August 2012
This morning it was my pleasure to attend a roundtable discussion at Government House on the topic ‘A National Conversation on Capturing the Benefits of Basic Research in Australia’. The event was organised by recent Nobel Laureate Brian Schmidt and moderated by Ken Henry. It operated under the Chatham House Rule so I will not list all 26 participants, but they included heads of research bodies, senior government officials, business leaders and the Governor-General herself. The very thoughtful Senator Arthur Sinodinos represented the coalition.
Today’s Australian runs a version of my ANU graduation speech in the Higher Education section.
Progress rarely plane sailing but dare to do it anyway, The Australian, 25 July 2012
In 1931, the British air ministry decided to experiment by commissioning a new fighter aircraft. The bureaucrats wanted aviation engineers to abandon past orthodoxies and create something entirely new.
The initial prototypes were disappointing. But then a company called Supermarine approached the ministry with a radical new design. A public servant by the name of Henry Cave-Browne-Cave decided to bypass the regular process and order it. The new plane was the Supermarine Spitfire.
I addressed graduating ANU students today, speaking about doubt and uncertainty, scepticism and risk-taking, experimenting and being prepared to make a mistake.
‘The Spirit Which is Not Too Sure It’s Right’
ANU Graduation Address
12 July 2012
In 1931, the British air ministry decided to experiment by commissioning a new fighter aircraft. The bureaucrats wanted aviation engineers to abandon past orthodoxies and create something entirely new.
The initial prototypes were disappointing. But then a company called Supermarine approached the ministry with a radical new design. A public servant by the name of Henry Cave-Brown-Cave decided to bypass the regular process and order it. The new plane was the Supermarine Spitfire.
I spoke in parliament yesterday about getting Australians a better deal on Kindle books.
Amazon.com’s Kindle Pricing Policies
House of Representatives, 28 June 2012
Access to many and affordable books is an important component of a civilised society. It is through books that children are exposed to new ideas and it is through books that many of us as adults broaden our experience. Indeed, one of the last things I wrote while as an academic was a survey of the books that federal parliamentarians were then reading which turned into an article with my friend Macgregor Duncan. Reading opens new worlds and makes us better people. It is in that vein that I urge the House to place pressure on Amazon.com to provide better and cheaper access to books through the Amazon Kindle.
I spoke today about payday lending, reverse mortgages, and Labor’s history of consumer protection.
Consumer Credit and Corporations Legislation Amendment (Enhancements) Bill 2011
26 June 2012
Not all debt is bad. Many of us here have a mortgage. Many of us have taken a loan to buy a car. My own calculations using data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey suggest that 60 per cent of Australian adults live in a household that has some debt and that the average is $100,000 of property debt. On average, debt levels rise with household net worth: if a household increases their net worth by $10, they will typically take another dollar of debt. Thanks to home loans, Australians are now able to buy houses at a much younger age than was the case in my grandparents generation. So credit in that sense has made us better off. Business loans also make the corporate sector grow faster; they help productive firms grow more rapidly. Car loans allow young people to take a job that requires four wheels. And although too many Australians probably carry unpaid balances on own credit cards, they are a handy source of finance to carry us through a tight spot.
It is only when sources of credit are made available to people in circumstances contrary to their interests that it becomes a problem. Care Inc., a financial counselling service in the ACT, told me the story of a client of theirs on a disability support pension, supporting her low income by selling the Big Issue magazine. She had sought assistance for a payday loan she had been paying for well over a year, and that was despite the initial loan being for one month. The client was regularly short of money to pay for food and utilities but continued to take out payday loans. Often a new loan would be provided with the outstanding amount being rolled in. That client felt trapped in a cycle of debt and felt great anxiety. Care Inc. told me that her limited understanding of budgeting and dependence on payday loans significantly affected her quality of life. Having an intellectual disability and mental health issues only compounded the issue.
I moved a private member’s motion in the House of Representatives today on the strength of the Australian economy, and the need to approach economic debates with facts rather than fear (avoiding phobophobia).
A Strong Australian Economy
18 June 2012
I move: That this House:
(1) notes that:
(a) by historical standards, unemployment, inflation and interest rates are at very low levels;
(b) for the first time in Australian history, Australia has a AAA rating from all three major credit rating agencies;
(c) Australia’s debt levels, despite the hit to revenues from the global financial crisis, are around one tenth the level of major advanced economies;
(d) OECD Economic Outlook 91 confirms that the Australian economy will significantly outperform OECD economies as a whole over this year and next; and
(e) the IMF has said of Australia: ‘we welcome the authorities’ commitment to return to a budget surplus by 2012-13 to rebuild fiscal buffers, putting Commonwealth government finances in a stronger position’; and
(2) calls upon all Members to approach economic debates with facts rather than fear, and to put the national interest first when discussing the strong Australian economy.
Economic reform in Australia has never been easy. In the postwar decades, the conservatives built up a tariff wall that helped make Australian industry uncompetitive and kept consumer prices high. In 1973, Gough Whitlam began the long process of breaking down Australia’s tariff walls—the 25 per cent across-the-board tariff cuts.
My SMH op-ed today is on the economic phobophobics.
Nothing to fear but merchants of gloom, Sydney Morning Herald, 7 June 2012
In the 1970s, psychologists uncovered an unusual phobia: patients who were scared of the possibility of having a panic attack. They called the condition phobophobia – a phobia of having a panic attack. It could be debilitating. One sufferer quit his job, and refused to leave his home.
Opening the business pages of the Australian press some days, it feels like some of the noisier voices in the land are suffering from phobophobia. This is despite the fact that unemployment, inflation and the RBA cash rate are below 5 percent (a rare thing in the post-war era). The prices of what we sell to the rest of the world – relative to the prices of what they buy from us – are at once-in-a-century highs. For the first time, Australia has a AAA rating from the three major credit agencies.
Senator Lisa Singh and I have an opinion piece in today’s Canberra Times on the implications of the rise of Asia for Australia. The full text is over the fold. It’s based on our submission to Ken Henry’s Asian Century white paper.
The Asian Century Beckons, Canberra Times, 25 April 2012
In the 21st century, we can confidently predict two trends. First, Australia will become more ethnically diverse. And second, we will become more enmeshed with Asia. The next generation of Australians will be more likely to have been born in Asia, travelled to Asia, worked in Asia, or married someone from Asia.
My op-ed in today’s Sydney Morning Herald discusses new research about how to make better decisions.
Spoilt by choice: how data ruins decisions, Sydney Morning Herald, 13 April 2012
In a share-trading experiment, two groups of university students were pitted against one another. One team saw only share prices, while the other team could also consult experts and media reports. The result? The better-informed team ended up reacting to rumours and gossip, made too many trades, and earned half as much as their less-informed classmates.
In his book How We Decide, Jonah Lehrer discusses a host of situations in which too much information leads us to make worse decisions. Guidance counsellors who can only see test scores do a better job of predicting whether students will perform well at university than when they can also draw upon essays and a personal interview. In the case of back pain, doctors who obtain an MRI scan are more likely to misdiagnose the patient as having disc abnormalities, and more likely to erroneously prescribe intensive medical interventions. Doctors are now advised not to get scans done on patients with non-specific lower back pain.
I held one of my regular community forums at lunchtime today at the Belconnen Community Services theaterette (‘theatre@bcs’). I started off speaking about the mining tax package, which has just passed the parliament, and will provide for a cut to the company tax rate, an increase in superannuation, and more investment (particularly in the mining regions).
There were a wide variety of questions, covering the Gonski review of school funding, local arts facilities, the National Disability Insurance Scheme, refugee policy, the purchase of submarines, the lack of a letterbox at the Kangara Waters community, defence force and public service pension indexation, the adequacy of footpaths in the city centre, the merits of taking on debt to pay for fiscal stimulus, the frequency of grass cutting, household assistance in the carbon pricing plan, and the effect of federal pension increases on ACT public housing costs.
I enjoy the interplay of ideas at these forums, and welcome anyone who lives or works on the northside of Canberra to come along to a future community forum.
This forum was held on a weekday lunchtime, but there’s no perfect time of the day for a community forum, so I aim to vary the dates and times to allow as many people as possible to attend. For details of upcoming forums, click here.
A bill regulating financial advice passed the House of Representatives today. Due to a bit of a fillibuster by the Coalition, I ended up not speaking in the debate, but I thought I’d post my speech here.
Corporations Amendment (Future of Financial Advice) Bill 2011
The collapse of Opes Prime and Storm Financial affected thousands of Australians, each one a story of betrayal and loss. I want to share just two.
In February 2008, Tracey Richards went to see her Storm Financial planner. Instead of withdrawing money to buy a motorhome, she was persuaded to borrow another $200,000 and invest more deeply in the share market. For the Brisbane receptionist, this was her third big margin loan investment through Storm. The first investment in 2001 was her life savings of $250,000, with another $400,000 later added from the sale of her home.
Now all is gone.
Parliament this afternoon chose to debate a Matter of Public Importance that I’d proposed.
My MPI was ‘The urgent need for market-based reforms and for strict and transparent budgeting’. Here’s my speech.
Matter of Public Importance – ‘The urgent need for market-based reforms and for strict and transparent budgeting’
13 March 2012
Today’s matter of public importance is on the need for market based reforms and the need for strict and transparent budgeting. I want to start by talking about market based mechanisms in dealing with environmental challenges. This used to be a pretty controversial area, and in fact the first person to raise it was none other than George HW Bush, who suggested that we might deal with environmental challenges by putting a price on the externality. He faced objections, but the objections at that time came from the Left. It was those on the progressive side of politics who took some time to come around.
I opened the Australian Institute of Management’s new centre on Childers St in the city this evening. A terrific event, and an organisation that’s well-placed to play a role across businesses, governments and NGOs in the ACT.
Here’s the media release.
I spoke to parliament on both Wednesday and Thursday about the Tax Forum, and also about the challenge of ongoing tax reform to support the kinds of social policies society is increasingly demanding.
Statements – Taxation
12 October 2011
It was my pleasure last week to participate in the Australian government’s tax forum, a forum designed to continue the important conversation about how to build a better taxation system in Australia. This forum, of course, does not sit in isolation. This government commissioned a once in a generation taxation report in 2009. The Henry review reported back with a range of important recommendations which this government is pursuing. In my own submission to the tax forum, I argued that among the core principles for tax reform should be the following: taxes should be shifted from mobile tax bases to immobile tax bases, taxation of savings should be more neutral and sustainable, polluters should internalise the social cost of environmental damage, disincentives to labour force participation should be reduced, and the tax system should be as simple as possible.
I spoke in Parliament on Wednesday about the ACT Telstra Business Women’s Awards.
Telstra Business Women’s Awards
12 October 2011
I was recently privileged to attend the Telstra Business Women’s Awards, which recognise outstanding women and their contribution to the business community. Past winners include some of Australia’s most talented business leaders, whose career paths and individual achievements continue to inspire businesspeople around the country. It is often tough being a woman in business or in other leadership roles. In her book Delusions of Gender, Cordelia Fine tells the story of botanist Jeanne Baret and mathematician Sophie Germain, who around the turn of the 19th century were forced to pretend to be men in order to excel in the world of science. Thankfully, those kinds of games are no longer necessary. But it is still true that it is tougher to be a woman in business than it is to be a man.
I’m participating in the government’s Jobs Forum today (backing up after two very interesting days at the Tax Forum), but I can’t let the chance go by to say something about the tragic passing of Steve Jobs. If there was a Nobel prize for innovation, Steve would’ve won it. His massive impact on the face of computing can be seen in the New York Times’ graphic of some of the 317 Apple patents that list him as one of the inventors.
Even if you don’t use a Mac, an iPhone or an iPad, your life has probably become better thanks to Steve Jobs, since many of his ideas diffused across to Apple’s competitors. It seems appropriate that I’m typing this on an iPad, a machine that I couldn’t imagine myself using when I first read about it, and one that I now can’t imagine doing without (when I can prise it away from my four year-old).
Steve’s last big announcement, iCloud, strikes me as something that’s likely to be just as groundbreaking. His death at 56 has doubtless robbed the world of more ideas, but he created more than any other tech inventor of his generation. Steve, RIP.
My Australian Financial Review column today is on Google, and particularly its ability to forecast the present.
Google’s on Top of Today, Australian Financial Review, 20 September 2011
Some days, it seems that everyone has a crystal ball. Bank economists boldly predict exchange rate movements. Political pundits use polls to predict the next election. And fund managers vie to be the best stock-picker.
Alas, many of these forecasts aren’t much good. Exchange rates are equally likely to rise as to fall. Polls years out from an election have little predictive power. And the typical managed fund underperforms the All Ordinaries index.
Faced with the dismal performance of forecasting the future, one firm is taking a more modest tack. The wonks at Google are hoping that their new project will tell us what’s happening today.
Transcript below (thanks to Mitch’s team for transcribing).
I spoke in parliament recently about the passing of bookseller and social activist Bob Gould. I wouldn’t normally use this website to promote a business, but his daughter Natalie Gould wrote to say that she is trying to ensure that Gould’s Books survives, and is running a 50% off sale until 14 Aug. So if you’re strolling along King St Newtown, do drop in.
I spoke in parliament last week about the benefits of free trade to Australian consumers and businesses, and the legacy of the great Labor Senator Peter Cook.
23 June 2011
I rise to discuss the benefits of free trade to the Australian economy and the Australian consumer. Estimates from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade show that households have benefited by $3,900 per annum as a result of the reductions in tariffs and the elimination of export quotas over recent decades. A large part of that boost has been in the form of prices being lower for consumers than they would otherwise have been in the presence of tariffs. The real prices of heavily protected products have fallen sharply. Boys’ footwear has fallen by 50 per cent, prices of major household appliances have fallen by 47 per cent and prices of automobiles have fallen by 37 per cent. One in five Australians is now employed as a result of exports and imports. Australians working in export industries are paid 60 per cent more than other working Australians.
Tim Harford’s latest book is a cracker (Adam Smith meets Malcolm Gladwell). It’s titled Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure. Some choice quotes:
An enterprising civil servant… decided to bypass the regular commissioning process and order the new plane as ‘a most interesting experiment’. The plane was the Supermarine Spitfire. … it is only a small exaggeration to say that the Spitfire was the plane that saved the free world.