Tax transparency (via Labor. Again.) - Media Release


Labor will continue leading the policy debate on tax transparency today with a move to force hundreds of Australia’s biggest private companies to be open about their tax affairs.

Our private senators’ bill will, if passed, require private companies with more than $100 million in turnover to release their tax information to the public annually – effectively putting a spotlight on the taxpaying behaviour of big firms to ensure they pay their fair share.

This stands alongside other transparency measures proposed by Labor, including disclosure of tax haven activity in government tenders, public reporting of country-by-country reports and protection for whistleblowers who uncover tax dodging by multinationals.

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Labor will stand up for marriage equality - Transcript, Lateline





SUBJECT: Marriage Equality

EMMA ALBERICI: Andrew Leigh is Shadow Assistant Treasurer and Shadow Minister for Competition and Productivity. He joins me from Canberra. Bill Shorten has made it clear that Labor hopes to push fiercely for the yes side of this issue on same-sex marriage. What form will that campaign actually take?

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: It's great to be with you Emma. I think the push that we will make for this is a simple case that we didn't want to be here, we didn't want to be achieving same-sex marriage in this way. But given that we have this postal survey, Labor will participate in the process. But it's so unnecessary. We didn't have a postal survey for the last 20 changes to the Marriage Act, there was no postal survey to put in place the Racial Discrimination Act or the Sex Discrimination Act. Tony Abbott didn't offer the Australian people the chance of a postal survey when he set about breaking promises on health and education. It will be divisive, it will hurt families. We held a roundtable earlier this week with many gay and lesbian families talking about the harm that they anticipate will come. We have already heard allegations of polygamy and bestiality which will hurt kids in school yards and hurt families.

ALBERICI: Sorry to interrupt but the question was what form your campaign will actually take. Let me rephrase the question, presumably there will be posters, rallies, letterbox drops, special events that give you the opportunity to present and broadcast your case. How much will you spend supporting the LGBTI community in this way?

LEIGH: We certainly haven't figured out the full parameters of the campaign.

ALBERICI: You are the Shadow Assistant Treasurer, you have got to have put some money aside, it is not cheap exercise to campaign publicly?

LEIGH: Marriage equality groups have been anticipating this outcome, not because they wanted it but because they knew -

ALBERICI: Hold on a minute. Labor, Bill Shorten has staked his reputation on this, very forcefully in the Parliament. It wasn't a bit of grandstanding, was it? There will be something behind this in terms of campaigning isn't there?

LEIGH: Absolutely we'll campaign on it. I don't have a dollar figure for you tonight but we will certainly be arguing that Australians should in the first instance get on the electoral roll and then make sure that they vote yes. We will be running that campaign in all corners of Australia and also trying to make sure that people are brought into this postal survey who might otherwise be missed. We are worried that a postal survey run by the Bureau of Statistics which saw the crashing of the Census website on Census night last year could well have a lot of problems. For remote Australians, for silent electors, for Australians living overseas. We'll make sure it's as inclusive as possible but we didn't need to be here, Emma.

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Is Turnbull for small business or the status quo? - Transcript, Doorstop





SUBJECTS: Labor’s Access to Justice for small business legislation passes the Senate; Morrison runs from banks Royal Commission; Godwin Grech MkII.

CHRIS BOWEN, SHADOW TREASURER: Thanks for coming, ladies and gentlemen. We have a few issues to cover this morning. Firstly the Labor party is very pleased that the Senate has passed our access to justice policy. This is a policy which gives small business a chance to get a fair go in court against big business. The Labor party believes in proper policy development and leading the way in the policy debate. And as the government is paralysed like kangaroos in the headlights – unable to deal with marriage equality, unable to deal with energy prices - Labor continues to lead the policy debate. We’re doing so on equality in the tax system through our very substantial announcements and doing so when it comes to small business and competition policy as well. I congratulate Andrew and Katy Gallagher on seeing the Senate adopt Labor’s policy and we call the government to recognise good policy and recognise the will of the Senate and adopt this good policy in the House of Representatives as well. In a moment I’ll ask Andrew to add to those remarks.

There are two other issues I want to cover before I open it up to questions. Earlier this week in the parliament, the Treasurer said all options were on the table when it came to banking misconduct. Today, he took the biggest and best option off the table. The policy couldn’t last from Monday to Thursday, when the Treasurer ruled out a Royal Commission into the banks. I think the Australian people understand that the banking sector needs a Royal Commission. How much more evidence does the government need? How much more evidence does this Treasurer need, a Treasurer hopelessly out of his depth. The fact of the matter is the banking and financial system in Australia needs a Royal Commission and it appears only Labor will deliver one. Unfortunately, that means Australia will have to wait longer for it, until we’re in government, but we’ve been very clear on our policy. The Liberal Party has slipped around on this issue, the Treasurer saying all options are on the table and this morning taking the biggest and best option off the table.

Finally, earlier today, the Prime Minister and the Minister for Workplace Relations held a press conference. At that press conference, some remarkable things were said. Some very regrettable things were said. Now this was a desperate, shrill and grubby attack on behalf of Malcolm Turnbull and Michaelia Cash on the Leader of the Opposition. For the Prime Minister and for Minister Cash to say these things in relation to Government legislation, in relation to the Leader of the Opposition was remarkable.

This was Malcolm Turnbull’s updated Godwin Grech moment.

It was a grubby and desperate attempt to divert attention from the government’s failing agenda, the fact that the government is flailing around on marriage equality. The fact that the Government has no answer on energy prices, the fact that the Government is squibbing on a banking Royal Commission. They go the low road and attack Australia’s alternative Prime Minister in this fashion says a whole lot more about Malcolm Turnbull than it does about Bill Shorten. Malcolm Turnbull should apologise to Bill Shorten and do so before Question Time. For him to launch this attack shows that he is simply more than willing to engage in grubby politics. Let me remind Malcolm Turnbull that the government in which he was a member spent $50 million of taxpayers money on a Royal Commission into trade unions which made not on adverse finding against Bill Shorten. If he wants to go down this road, he can. Labor chooses to lead the policy debate and go the high road. Malcolm Turnbull chooses to go the low road. He should hang his head in shame. His comments this morning at the press conference were un-prime ministerial, unbecoming and not befitting the office he holds. He should reflect on his approach to the office he holds. He should reflect that he is the Prime Minister for all Australians. He has a job to do, a big job to do. Australia faces big challenges and opportunities and the Prime Minster is failing those challenges and opportunities. Instead he engages in a personal smear against a man who devoted his working life to improving the working conditions of Australians. Well I think Australians are seeing through Malcolm Turnbull’s disgusting smear campaign against Bill Shorten and as I said, it says more about Malcolm Turnbull that it does about Bill Shorten and Malcolm Turnbull is the one who has serious questions to answer about his conduct at that press conference earlier today.

I’m going to ask Andrew to add to my remarks and then we’ll take your questions.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Thanks very much, Chris. At the last election, Labor took forward a policy to provide access to justice for small businesses. It’s part of our concern that too many Australian markets are concentrated, that in more than half of Australian industries, the big four have a disproportionate market share. Access to justice provides an avenue through which a small business can challenge anti-competitive conduct by the big end of town. It allows a small business at the start of the case to go to the federal court to apply for a "no adverse costs" order, meaning that if they lose the action, then they won’t be bankrupted by the other side’s legal fees. It doesn’t allow vexatious cases to go ahead, but where an action is in the public interest - where it can help boost competition and assist consumers - then these no adverse cost orders can be critical. Meaning that if they lose the action then they won't be bankrupted by the other side’s legal fees. It doesn't allow vexation cases to go ahead but where an action is in the public interest, where it can help boost competition and assist consumers, then these no adverse costs orders can be critical.

I want to pay tribute to Katy Gallagher, Labor’s Shadow Small Business spokesperson and her predecessor Michelle Rowland for the work we’ve done together on developing this policy. We took it to the 2016 election and the Senate just voted for it, voted resoundingly for it by 36 to 22. The Senate has upheld Labor’s Access To Justice policy. That result has since been welcomed by the small business ombudsman Kate Carnell who said that this is an important step in providing a more level playing field for small business.

So the choice now for Malcolm Turnbull is simple: does he want to stand on the side of multinationals and monopolies or does he want to support Australian small businesses? 93% per cent of Australian businesses are small businesses, Labor stands up for them with our Access to Justice policy. The Senate today has stood up for Australian small business but will Malcolm Turnbull have the gumption to bring the vote on in the House? Will he be willing to bring the Access to Justice Bill to the House as he should to allow members like George Christiansen to decide whether they want to back small space business or whether they just want to support the status quo and the big end of town. This Bill must now be returned to the House so the House can vote on it and so for the sake of Australian small businesses, they can get the Access to Justice policy that will help level the playing field in Australia. 

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Time to back the little guys - Media Release




The Senate today passed Labor’s access to justice policy, which will help small businesses take cases of anti-competitive behaviour to court.

Currently, small businesses are less likely to take up private litigation against anti-competitive behaviour.

This is because big businesses have deep pockets and armies of lawyers, so the risk of small businesses being bankrupted by legal fees is a significant disincentive to taking action against anti-competitive conduct.

But this bill will allow a small business request a ‘no adverse costs order’ early in a court case. If the judge decides that the case is in the public interest, the small business will not have the risk of paying the other side’s costs if they lose.

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A Postcode Should Not Shape A Person's Destiny - OpEd, HuffPost

A Postcode Should Not Shape A Person's Destiny

HuffPost, 9 August 2017

The late historian John Hirst once told me that if you took a time machine back to the 1800s, the streets of Sydney would remind you more of Charles Dickens’ London than modern-day Australia. Landless labourers slept rough on the streets, while affluent landowners wore top hats and were saluted by police officers.

Australia wasn’t just more unequal, it was more static. The child of a labourer expected to be a labourer. The son of a lawyer looked to follow in his father’s footsteps. Going back centuries, surnames like Baker, Smith and Cook are a reminder of how little mobility there used to be among our European ancestors. Your surname was your job, and your parents’ job, and their parents’ job.

As Australia became more equal in the post-war decades, we probably became more mobile. Finishing school and attending university no longer depended on having rich parents.  We became a society based more on merit than the luck of birth. In the 1950s and 1960s, economic growth boosted middle incomes more than top incomes – and spread opportunity through society.

But over the past generation, we have seen the opposite trend. Since the mid-1970s, real wages have grown by 72 percent for the top tenth of workers, but by just 23 percent for the bottom tenth. If child care workers and cleaners had received the same wage gains as financiers and solicitors, they would be around $16,000 a year better off.

Rising inequality has direct costs. An economy that benefits only the fortunate few isn’t just unfair – it’s likely to be unhappy and unstable too. But inequality also risks harming social mobility; making it harder for a bright child from modest circumstances to make it to the middle class.

This pattern, dubbed ‘The Great Gatsby Curve’ by economist Alan Krueger, shows up across countries. The most equal nations – such as Denmark and Norway – are also extremely mobile.  The most unequal countries – such as Chile and Peru – are scarily immobile. Children are far more likely to move from rags to riches in nations that have a smaller gap between rich and poor. The same pattern shows up across cities in the United States: equality and mobility go together.

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The same-sex marriage postal vote is just a tactic designed to deal with the Liberal Party's internal issues - Transcript, Sky AM Agenda





SUBJECTS: Marriage Equality; Newspoll

KIERAN GILBERT: With me now on the program the Shadow Assistant Treasurer, Andrew Leigh. Thanks for your time. This idea of a postal vote with a set date for a Parliamentary vote potentially by the end of the year, you can make a case against a plebiscite but if it were to happen, surely Labor and the advocacy groups can win it and be done with it?

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: As Malcolm Turnbull said 20 years ago about a postal vote, it will ‘push to the margins of our political society those people who are already on the margins’. This is just a tactic designed to deal with the Liberal Party's internal issues. Australians support same-sex marriage and the majority of parliamentarians support same-sex marriage. We're the last advanced English speaking country not to allow same-sex marriage. We didn't have a plebiscite the last 20 times we changed the Marriage Act, including in 2004 when John Howard changed it so as to prevent same-sex marriage. This is nothing but a delaying tactic. We need to get on and provide equality to same-sex attracted Australians so they can tie the knot before grandparents pass away. Tori Johnson…

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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





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





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




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.


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