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Young Social Entrepreneurs - OpEd, The Chronicle

Young Social Entrepreneurs

The Chronicle, 1 August 2017

One of the most inspiring things that I do as a local MP is host breakfast for young social entrepreneurs.

Sunny Forsyth, Neha Pathak and Tristan Skinner work with Abundant Water, which distributes water filters in developing nations such as East Timor. Through Raize the Roof, Lincoln and Danielle Dal Cortivo are supporting seriously ill children in the ACT and orphaned children in Botswana.

Hannah Wandel leads Country to Canberra, providing mentoring support to young women in rural Australia. Francesca Maclean started Fifty50 to promote gender equity in science and engineering. Maddeline Mooney is exploring the need for a new body that looks at mental wellbeing in the deaf community. 

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We've got to tilt the playing field back towards first home owners - Transcript, Triple J Hack

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

RADIO INTERVIEW

ABC TRIPLE J HACK

WEDNESDAY, 2 AUGUST 2017

SUBJECT/S: Inequality; HILDA survey results; Housing affordability; Labor’s plan for a fairer tax system for all Australians.

STEPHEN STOCKWELL: I want to bring in the Shadow Assistant Treasurer who is also an economist, Andrew Leigh, thank you so much for joining us on Hack.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Pleasure, Stephen. Great to be with you.

STOCKWELL: It's lovely to have you here now to start with, from the stats we've just heard it is very likely that if you were a young person today you would be living with your parents, would you like the sound of that?

LEIGH: Well I think young Australians want options, just as the generation before them had. The real risk that we've got today is that we might have a generation that for the first time since the 1930s, are worse off than their parents were.

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More young Australians are living with their parents - Transcript, ABC News 24

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

TV INTERVIEW

ABC NEWS 24

WEDNESDAY, 2 AUGUST 2017

SUBJECT/S: Inequality; HILDA survey results; Labor’s plan for a fairer tax system for all Australians

ROS CHILDS: Let's get more reactions to today's HILDA report which shows a growing wealth divide across the generations which has been compounded by rising house prices. I'm joined by Shadow Assistant Treasurer, Andrew Leigh. Overall, what do you think of the picture painted by the HILDA report?

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: It's a pretty grim one if you are a member of Generation Y. You’ve seen the under-40 home ownership rate drop from more than a third in the early 2000s to now only a quarter. More and more young Australians are living with their parents. It means that that Australian dream, the notion that if you take a middle-class job, you can afford to buy a home in a decent suburb, is slipping out of the grip of many Australians. Comes on the back of these other statistics showing we have got the highest household debt load in the world and suggesting that increasingly Australia is moving from being a nation of home owners to a nation of renters.

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Error 404: Responsible government not found - Media Release

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER

ED HUSIC, SHADOW MINISTER FOR THE DIGITAL ECONOMY

ERROR 404: RESPONSIBLE GOVERNMENT NOT FOUND

Another day, another article on IT outages at the Australian Tax Office.

The ATO is trying as hard as it can, but it’s been left struggling thanks to staffing cuts by the Coalition. Just last week we read reports that the Turnbull Government is planning to continue with its cuts over the next three years, climbing to almost $30 million in cutbacks.

Australians deserve better than this Pushme Pullyu of a policy. Labor has repeatedly called for an investigation into these interruptions, but Malcolm Turnbull has team have done nothing to reassure the public. He needs to step up and ensure the Tax Office has the support it needs to do its job.

Labor has constantly asked the agency designed to help digital transformation is doing to help the ATO. They've always said nothing. Now that they have been shamed into acting, the test is whether they will improve things.

WEDNESDAY, 2 AUGUST 2017

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Labor is not only making our system more equitable but also pursuing pro-growth policies - Transcript, Sky To The Point

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

TV INTERVIEW

SKY NEWS TO THE POINT

MONDAY, 31 JULY 2017

SUBJECTS: Labor’s plan for a fairer tax system for all Australians;

KRISTINA KENEALLY: I think we've given Andrew Leigh enough time to consult his factsheets.

PETER VAN ONSELEN: Yes we saw you sort of busily studying. I would have thought that you would have already know the policy well enough that you don't need to be rereading to remind yourself 5 minutes before the interview.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Peter, it's a mark of how much detail we've released in this ten page factsheet, significantly more substantial than anything you'll see from a Government budget night announcement that even I can't keep it all in my head at the same time. So just going through some of those finer points that I'm sure you will be wanting to delve into.

KENEALLY: We're going to get into those in just a minute but I have a burning question since the NSW state conference this weekend, Andrew Leigh. We have a photo here of the NSW Senators and MPs on stage awaiting the arrival of Bill Shorten and I thought hang on a moment, right there next to Jenny McAllister, there's someone who doesn't look like they're from NSW. Andrew Leigh what were you doing interrupting on the stage there?

LEIGH: Kristina when we're talking about inequality and tax fairness, it's frankly pretty hard to keep me away. These are topics which I think are fundamental to building a better Australia and was very pleased to have the opportunity to assist Bill Shorten and Chris Bowen in the development of the policy.

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One fair system for all - Transcript, ABC Melbourne Mornings

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

RADIO INTERVIEW

ABC 774

MONDAY, 31 JULY 2017 

SUBJECTS: Labor’s plan for a fairer tax system for all Australians.

RAFAEL EPSTEIN: Andrew Leigh is the Shadow Assistant Treasurer, he is part of Bill Shorten's team. Good morning.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Good morning Raf, how are you?

EPSTEIN: How many trusts will pay more tax because of this? 

LEIGH: Something in the order of around 300,000 trusts, affecting only around 2 per cent of taxpayers. This is dealing with the issue of income-splitting, which is a trick by which high income professionals have been able to use multiple tax-free thresholds. Where a regular wage earner gets to have their one tax-free threshold, there has been increasingly this practice of income-splitting which has meant that people have been able to use adult children and sometimes the tax-free thresholds of their parents to pay less tax than regular PAYG taxpayers.

EPSTEIN: I guess the obvious question is how do you know you're hitting income splitters and not genuine small businesses?

LEIGH: Because that's exactly the way the policy is designed, Raf. There has been some speculation around taxing trusts as companies. We looked at that, but we thought that that would have exactly the sort of unintended results that you're talking about there. What we've done is build on work that John Howard put in place in 1980 as Treasurer. He changed the rules at that stage and so that for people trying to distribute money to children, those children would then pay the top marginal tax rate. We haven't said that people will pay the top marginal tax rates for distributions to mature age beneficiaries, we've said instead it would be a 30 per cent tax rate. But it does go to exactly that same issue of income-splitting.

EPSTEIN: How do you know you're not going to hit people? There might be someone distributing to people in the trust and they’re not at that 30 per cent, they're a genuine part of a small business you might hit them?

LEIGH: Well Raf, if you're an employee of a small business then the regular arrangements continue, you're unaffected by this. But if passive income is being distributed through a discretionary trust, then you pay a 30 per cent tax rate on that. If you look at who is getting the benefit of trusts, they're heavily skewed to the top end, the richest fifth of Australians have almost all of the wealth that is held in discretionary trusts. This is about making sure that our system is fair, that you don't have what Bill Shorten has correctly called a two class tax system in which one set of taxpayers simply have a single tax-free threshold while another set of taxpayers get to make use of the tax-free thresholds of their family members.

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A Fairer Tax System for All Australians - Media Release

BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

CHRIS BOWEN, SHADOW TREASURER

 ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER

A FAIRER TAX SYSTEM FOR ALL AUSTRALIANS

Today Labor is announcing new plans to improve our tax system so that it is fair for all Australians.

A Shorten Labor Government will introduce a standard minimum 30 per cent tax rate for discretionary trust distributions to mature beneficiaries (people over the age of 18). 

Labor’s policy will tackle the use of income splitting to minimse tax – making the tax system fairer and improving the budget bottom line.

Australia currently has a two-class tax system. While most people pay the tax that they owe through normal PAYG arrangements, the system includes generous subsidies and loopholes which allow some wealthier people to minimise their tax.

Wealthy individuals are much more likely to benefit from a trust than low and middle income earners. The average amount of money held in private trusts by the wealthiest 20 per cent of households is $123,000, while for the next wealthiest quintile it is just $4,000.

Individuals and businesses use trusts for a range of legitimate reasons, such as asset protection and business succession. But in some cases, trusts are used solely for tax minimisation. 

Discretionary trusts allow for trust income to be distributed on an entirely discretionary basis. This means distributions can be artificially split between different people in lower tax brackets so that the tax paid on the overall amount is much less than it would otherwise be.

While artificial income splitting is completely legal, that doesn’t mean it is fair.

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Opening the new offices of Griffin Legal, Canberra - Speech

SPEECH OPENING THE NEW OFFICES OF GRIFFIN LEGAL, CANBERRA

TUESDAY, 25 JULY 2017

It is a real pleasure to be here opening a Canberra legal office. As a current politician, former economist and a former lawyer, it feels like a bit of a homecoming. I acknowledge that we are meeting on the lands of the Ngunnawal people and I pay my respect to their elders past and present. I acknowledge Griffin Legal’s partners Claire Carton, Peter McGrath and Carina Zeccola, as well as military officer, writer and cricket buff Catherine McGregor, recently appointed as Senior Consultant in your firm.

So let’s start with cricket.  

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Cuts no solution to Tax Office outages - Media Release

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER

ED HUSIC, SHADOW MINISTER FOR THE DIGITAL ECONOMY

CUTS NO SOLUTION TO TAX OFFICE OUTAGES

The Turnbull Government is planning to keep cutting the Tax Office at a time when they are struggling to stay online.

Despite repeated outages, there are reports today that the Turnbull Government is planning to continue with its cuts over the next three years, climbing to almost $30 million.

This is madness.

The Turnbull Government needs to support our public servants and come clean on the rolling outages, which have disrupted so many Australians’ tax time.

Labor has repeatedly called for an investigation into these interruptions, but Malcolm Turnbull has team have done nothing to reassure the public.

The Turnbull Government hasn’t explained how the current staff will be able to cope with the on-going disruption of outages during tax time 2017 – not to mention the disruption to tax agents and the general public.

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Mind the inequality gap, Mr Morrison - Media Release

MIND THE INEQUALITY GAP, MR MORRISON

The Reserve Bank Governor has confirmed what many Australians already know – that inequality is indeed increasing.

Dr Lowe told an event organised by the Australian Business Economists that inequality "grew quite a lot in the 1980s and the 1990s and it has risen a little bit just recently… It has become more pronounced in the past few years because of the of the rise in assets prices and people that own those assets have seen their wealth go up".

The facts tell a clear story. Since the mid-1970s, earnings have risen three times as fast for the top tenth of Australians as for the bottom tenth. The labour share in the economy is at a four-decade low, and the home ownership rate is at a six-decade low.

Labor will tackle inequality through fair tax reforms, needs-based school funding and defending universal health care. The Turnbull Government prefers to prevaricate and procrastinate.

Since they came to office, the Abbott and Turnbull Governments have proposed slowing the rate of pension increases, cutting the income support bonus, and removing consumer protections from the financial advice market.

They have reduced the pay of the men and women who clean their offices, and just delivered a $16,400 tax cut to those with million-dollar incomes.

As the saying goes, when you’re in a hole, stop digging. Scott Morrison needs to admit that his claims about falling inequality are bunkum, and join the constructive conversation about building a more equal Australia.

WEDNESDAY, 26 JULY 2017

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