Weaker competition widening the wealth gap, The Australian, 21 October 2016
Paying more for your pint? You’re not alone. Lately, beer prices have risen significantly faster than most other prices. Over the past decade, the cost of a beer has gone up 42 percent, meaning we’re paying as much for a middy today as a schooner ten years ago.
So naturally my ears pricked-up when I recently heard of a merger between the company that makes Carlton, Fat Yak and VB (SABMiller) and the company that makes Corona, Budweiser and Stella Artois (Anheuser-Busch InBev). If it goes ahead, the merger will create the world’s largest beer manufacturer.
There are many reasons why beer might have become more expensive, including taxes, the rise of craft brewing, and an increased appetite for premium beers. But one factor could be a lack of competition. Beer is one of the most concentrated markets in Australia. The four largest beer manufacturers control a whopping 90 per cent of the market. This has increased significantly over the last decade when the largest manufacturer (SABMiller) bought Fosters in 2011 and the second largest manufacturer (Lion) bought James Boag in 2007.
Wait, I hear you shout. Having fewer competitors doesn’t necessarily mean reduced competition. True, but it certainly doesn’t help, either. As any economics textbook will show, reduced competition means higher prices, less production, less innovation and ultimately less growth and fewer jobs. It might also be worsening inequality.Read more
The Age of Ambition, New Matilda, 20 October 2016
Globally, these are tough times to be a social democrat. The cumulative social democratic vote share in Western Europe has fallen by one-third, to its lowest in 70 years. Angry politics is alive and well in the person of Trump and Le Pen, Farage and Wilders. It’s a politics that emphasises differences within the community, and urges citizens to jump at the shadows of trade, immigration and foreign investment.
Amidst secular stagnation, fear of terrorism, and a hate-filled politics, a message of inclusion, egalitarianism and multiculturalism doesn’t always resonate. In that environment, what is the best approach for the left’s party of government, the Australian Labor Party?
Labor is now in our 125th year – the seventh age for Australia’s oldest political party. Some have argued that we need to defend the status quo, and tweak our way to a better world. There’s nothing inherently wrong with any of this. Indeed, there’s a bit of me that’s temperamentally technocratic – desiring to defend against cuts, and fight for better indexation.
But it’s not a whole program. Labor’s story has always had a touch of élan, a bit of vision, a sense of excitement. Ours has always been the party of ambition.Read more
Documents from the Prime Minister’s own department confirm what Treasury officials revealed yesterday – the Treasurer is on track to break his promise of introducing a Diverted Profits Tax before the end of the year.
Speaking on Radio National this morning, Mr Morrison repeated the explicit promise he made immediately prior to the federal election to introduce a Diverted Profits Tax by the end of this year to tackle multinational tax avoidance:
"We have budget revenue measures which are about improving the integrity of the tax base, whether it be our diverted profits tax legislation which comes in later in the year.”
– Scott Morrison, 20 October 2016.
This is where it starts to get awkward. Because according to two excellent sources – the Treasurer’s own department and the Prime Minister’s department – Mr Morrison will not keep that promise.Read more
MEMBER FOR LYONS
ANDREW LEIGH MP
SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER
SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMPETITION AND PRODUCTIVITY
SHADOW MINISTER FOR CHARITIES AND NOT-FOR-PROFITS
SHADOW MINISTER FOR TRADE IN SERVICES
MEMBER FOR FENNER
Growing up, we were both fans of the television show Sale of the Century. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, millions of Australians tuned in to the quiz show, to see contestants try their hand at winning cars, holidays and cash. Guided by hosts like Tony Barber, Glenn Ridge, Delvene Delaney and Jo Bailey, some contestants won big. In 1992, Robert Kusmierski took home cash and prizes worth $676,790. But most who chanced their hand went home with next to nothing.
It made for a terrific gameshow, but today, as Labor parliamentarians, we’re worried that our society is starting to look too much like a gameshow. If you compare wages in 1980 (when the first episode of Sale of the Century went to air) with today, then you see a labour market where earnings have growth three times as fast for the top tenth as for the bottom tenth. It’s been a great generation for lawyers and landlords – not so much for retail workers and renters.
To some extent, success in life is determined by hard work, but luck matters too. Billionaire Warren Buffett likes to reflect on his good fortune at being born in an era when his investing skills can be put to work. For most of human history, those skills wouldn’t have been much use. We also know that the labour market pays more to men, tall people and right-handers. That’s luck, not skill.Read more
During last night’s Estimates hearings the Australian Statistician admitted to Labor Senators how much extra money the Turnbull Government will spend rescuing the 2016 Australian Census – universally known as the ‘Worst Census Ever’ – from complete failure.
“(A)s a result of some of the remedial activities we took in terms of the Census we have to date probably incurred additional costs of around $20 million…and we anticipate possibly spending another $10 million.”
– David W. Kalsich, Australian Statistician, Senate Economics Legislation Committee [10.05pm, 19/10/2016]Read more
Immediately prior to the federal election, Treasurer Scott Morrison made an explicit promise to introduce a Diverted Profits Tax to tackle multinational tax avoidance by the end of this year:
"Two pieces of legislation in particular that the government enacted will target this conduct of booking profits offshore - the Multinational Anti Avoidance Law (MAAL) and the Diverted Profits Tax (DPT). ...The DPT will be introduced in the second half of 2016 and will apply from 1 July 2017.”
– Scott Morrison, 27 June.
However, in response to questions from the Government’s own Senator Ian Macdonald in Senate Estimates today, Treasury officials noted that, “the legislation is yet to be drafted.” [Senate Economics Legislation Committee, 16.38.32]
With just over three sitting weeks to go until the end of the Parliamentary year, the Treasurer has dozens of tax measures that he has announced but not enacted. When it comes to taking on the big end of town, Scott Morrison is all mouth and no trousers.
WEDNESDAY, 19 OCTOBER 2016
MEDIA CONTACTS: TAIMUS WERNER-GIBBINGS 0437 320 393
How to make innovative co-ops work better, The Canberra Times, 19 October 2016
A few years ago, a group of community activists in one of the most disadvantaged parts of Canberra decided to set up a bulk-billing medical practice. They chose to make it a cooperative – recognising that its purpose wasn’t to make a buck for the shareholders, but instead to address a social need.Read more
When Isam Gurung first came to Amaroo Primary School he was in an unfamiliar environment - House of Representatives, 17 October 2016
Dr LEIGH (Fenner) (16:16): When Isam Gurung first came to Amaroo Primary School he was in an unfamiliar environment. Isam is deaf, and had moved from a specialist school in Sydney to a mainstream school in Canberra. He found it difficult to adjust and was initially very shy. That was before he befriended Ross Kelly: a boy who decided, after passing notes forwards and backwards, that he would go a step further and learn sign language to help his friend.Read more
At a time when wage inequality has been rising, Australia needs strong collective action - Sky AM Agenda
SKY AM AGENDA WITH KIERAN GILBERT
MONDAY, 17 OCTOBER 2016
SUBJECT/S: Unions and inequality; Royal Commission into the banking sector; ACT election.
KIERAN GILBERT: The Government is attacking Labor over the contributions of the CFMEU to the Labor Party upwards of $2 million since 2010 and arguing that's why Bill Shorten is turning a blind eye to the poor behaviour of many unionists within the CFMEU?
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Kieran there's nothing wrong with unions, individuals or businesses donating to political parties. We draw the line at tobacco firms, something that our Coalition colleagues haven't always done but when it comes to donations, when it comes to a $2 million donation, let's focus on the $2 million that the Prime Minister gave the Liberal Party at the last election and hasn't yet disclosed.Read more
Old Malcolm would have liked that ACT Labor is committed to renewables, same-sex marriage and progressive economic reform - Doorstop, Canberra
PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA
MONDAY, 17 OCTOBER 2016
SUBJECT/S: Reelection of the ACT Barr Labor Government; Kimberley Kitching’s Senate appointment; ABCC bill.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Good morning everyone, I'm Andrew Leigh, the Shadow Assistant Treasurer. A couple of weeks ago we had Malcolm Turnbull launching the Canberra Liberals campaign - planting his flag very firmly on the side of the Canberra Liberals. Over the weekend, we saw the repudiation of that view, with Andrew Barr's Labor Government convincingly re-elected.
What was striking about the platform that the Barr Labor Government ran on was that Old Malcolm would have found a lot to like about it. Old Malcolm would have liked the fact that ACT Labor was committed to renewables, committed to action on same-sex marriage. ACT Labor believes that governments should invest not just in roads but also in rail. Old Malcolm would have liked the fact that ACT Labor is leading the nation in making the transition from stamp duty - a tax on mobility - to a much more efficient land tax base. But New Malcolm decided he would put himself on the side of the Canberra Liberals who were thumped on the weekend and will spend another four years in Opposition.Read more