Media


OpEd - Why the 1% Think They're the 99% - Business Insider

WHY THE 1% THINK THEY'RE THE BOTTOM 99%

Business Insider, 3 May 2017

Reducing economic inequality means addressing the widening social gap in Australia. New research shows that the income gaps within our cities have grown larger since the 1990s. Compared with two decades ago, well-paid workers are less likely to live in places with low average incomes. University of New South Wales economist Bruce Bradbury, who carried out the study, sums up his findings with the old joke: ‘What did the rich man say to the poor man? Nothing, they never met.’

A major risk of social bifurcation is that policymakers and commentators become disconnected from the reality of lived experience in Australia. Looking out from the boardroom, the parliament or the newsroom, it’s easy to forget that half of all households have disposable incomes below $80,000.

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SHORTEN & LEIGH - MEDIA RELEASE - LABOR TIGHTENING MULTINATIONAL RORTS - WEDNESDAY, 3 MAY 2017

THE HON. BILL SHORTEN MP

LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

SHADOW MINISTER FOR INDIGENOUS AFFAIRS AND ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDERS

MEMBER FOR MARIBYRNONG

 

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

 

LABOR TIGHTENING MULTINATIONAL RORTS

A Shorten Labor Government will improve the Budget bottom line by $5.4 billion over the decade through reforms ensuring multinational companies are no longer given a free pass to use the Liberals' tax loopholes.

Labor’s five point plan will restore integrity to the Australian tax system through stronger laws which will close loopholes and increase tax scrutiny.

Labor’s package - Their Fair Share –includes measures that will:

1. Tighten debt-deduction loopholes used by multinational companies, improving the Budget by $4.6 billion over the decade.

2. Increase compliance activity by the Australian Taxation Office

3. Remove tax advantages and inconsistencies between Multiple Entry Consolidated Groups (consisting of Australian-resident entities that share a common ultimate foreign owner) and Australian-owned ordinary consolidated groups.

4. Deliver more tax transparency by restoring Labor’s $100 million threshold for public reporting of tax data for private companies. This threshold was raised to $200 million in another deal with the Liberals and the Greens political party.

5. Appoint a community sector representative to the Board of Taxation to ensure community sector voices are heard in tax design and review processes.

Labor’s laws helped deliver victory to the Australian Tax Office against Chevron – Malcolm Turnbull is only interested in delivering a $50 billion tax handout to big business and the banks.

Malcolm Turnbull has a simple choice: to stand up and fight for Australian workers and businesses who pay their fair share, or sit idly by as budget revenue and fairness slip away.

A fact sheet is available here

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Op-Ed - The Bush Capital Shouldn’t Go Bush - Canberra Chronicle

The Bush Capital Shouldn’t Go Bush

Canberra Chronicle, 2 May

Earle Page may not have been Prime Minister for long, but his shrewd advocacy for Canberra merits him a proud place in our city’s story. Faced with a Canberra-bashing MP, Page invited the man to visit from Western Australia for a weekend. They went trout fishing one night (the visitor caught three large ones), hare shooting the next morning, and quail shooting in the afternoon. After that, Page recalled, the MP became a Canberra enthusiast.

Canberra’s advocates have found different things to love about the nation’s capital. Andrew Fisher championed the art collection.  Joseph Lyons believed a ‘young country’ needed a great National Library. John Curtin enjoyed the fact that Canberra left governments less vulnerable to special interests. Robert Menzies initiated the annual Prime Minister's XI cricket match, and aimed to 'build up Canberra as a capital in the eyes and minds of the Australian people'.

Telling the proud history of Canberra isn’t just a matter of civic pride – it’s critical to ensuring that the national purpose of our city isn’t eroded. The decision to relocate the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority will cost taxpayers more, produce worse scientific outcomes, and disrupt hundreds of staff. Since 2013, one in 13 federal public servants have lost their jobs – a virtual decimation of the national bureaucracy. Now, the successors of Earle Page and Robert Menzies are telling departments that they have to justify staying in Canberra.

Already, six out of ten federal public servants live outside Canberra. But the policy role needs to be in the national capital for the simple reason that proximity produces better outcomes. If you like efficiency and joined-up government, you should love Canberra. Recently, a friend told me the story of how she had solved a problem that crossed departments. The solution came on the soccer field, where the two public servants played in a local tournament. It saved taxpayer money, and would never have happened if the departments had been located in different towns. Enough bashing the bush capital.

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How do we become a clever country if we keep on cutting our universities? - Transcript, Sky AM Agenda

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

TV INTERVIEW

SKY NEWS AM AGENDA

MONDAY, 1 MAY 2017

SUBJECT/S: Liberals’ Budget mess; University funding; Competition policy; GST.

TOM CONNELL: Joining me now is Andrew Leigh, Shadow Assistant Treasurer from the Labor Party. Thank you for your time today. Starting on this Deloitte Access Report, lower tax receipts than we were expecting, bigger budget deficit happens under both parties these days it seems?

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: We had a global financial crisis which led to governments around the world taking on debt as you well know. The difference is with Australia is that other countries have started to pay down their debt. But since 2013 Australia’s debt has increased by over $4000 or more for every man, woman and child in Australia. So a Government who campaigned in front of debt trucks really should be driving debt road trains around the country right now if they were being honest.

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Op-Ed - Why We Need to Fix Fundraising - Canberra Times, 29 April

WHY WE NEED TO FIX FUNDRAISING

Canberra Times, Saturday 29 April

In the year before she took her life, 92 year-old Olive Cooke received 466 letters from charities asking for money. Nearly 100 charities were asking her for money, and many were passing her details on to others. Ms Cooke was a generous donor, but she suffered from depression, and her family said that the pressure from charities ‘led to her feeling distressed and overwhelmed’. Her 2015 suicide led to a spate of media reports on the pressure that British charities were applying to their donors. Trust in charities in Britain is now at an all-time low.

For Australia’s charitable sector, the events in Britain are a reminder of the importance of maintaining public trust and confidence. Every day, thousands of Australian charities help the homeless, clean up our environment, assist people with disabilities, and tackle global poverty. Every year, Australians provide around $11 billion to help our charities do their important work.

Unfortunately, the laws that govern fundraising are hopelessly outdated. Charities in Australia who want to raise money online must register in seven states and territories (only the Northern Territory does not require registration). Each state’s rules are subtly different. In Queensland, charities need to advertise in the paper. Western Australia requires police checks. Some states want bank details.

We don’t make Australian drivers get a new driver license when they want to cross a state border. We don’t make our companies register again if they want to sell a product interstate. So it makes little sense to tell charities that they have to register everywhere if they want to fundraise online.

Faced with such a heavy paperwork burden, small charities often decide not to bother registering everywhere. They just cross their fingers and hope they don’t get caught. Larger charities tend to comply, a process that can cost around seven working days a year. I’m yet to meet a donor who wants to see their money wasted in complying with duplicate rules.

To address these challenges, dozens of charities have joined together on a campaign to ‘Fix Fundraising’, arguing that one set of national fundraising rules should be written into the Australian Consumer Law. Because it’s a law written and administered by states, territories and the federal government, the states wouldn’t need to give up control.

Fixing fundraising would be a sensible step now that the Turnbull Government has come to its senses on charity regulation. The Coalition spent most of its first term in office trying to kill the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission, a body that had been set up in 2012. Supported by four out of five charities and recommended by more than a dozen inquiries, the charities commission was helping reduce red tape – so it always seemed bizarre that the Coalition fought to close it in the basis of ‘red tape reduction’.

Thankfully, the Turnbull Government performed a clumsy backflip on the issue last March, and is now committed to keeping the charities commission. This has allowed states and territories to start working with the national body on scrapping duplicate regulation.

The Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission also plays a valuable role in checking up on dodgy charities – investigating and deregistering about a dozen each year, so that they don’t tarnish the good name of the thousands of great charities that serve our community. If someone knocks on your door, it’s now easy to log ontowww.acnc.gov.au to check out their credentials.

Sensible fundraising laws are fundamental to a strong charitable sector – which is in turn vital to a healthy society. And as any good economist knows, life is about more than money.  As Adam Smith wrote in The Theory of Moral Sentiments, ‘to be amiable and be meritorious, that is to deserve love and deserve reward, are the great characters of virtue. Man naturally desires not only to be loved, but to be lovely. To be that thing which is the natural and proper object of love.’

Most people don’t just want to do well, they want to do good. We seek that sense of inner tranquillity that comes from feeling that we are decent, ethical and admirable. In Smith’s formulation, most of us want to be ‘lovely’. Helping voluntary organisations is one way we can do that. Having charities that spend their time on filling hearts rather than filling forms will make us a happier, healthier and more connected community.

This is an edited extract of a speech delivered at the launch of the ‘Fix Fundraising’ campaign, and was first published in The Canberra Times on Saturday 29 April 2017.

MEDIA CONTACT: NICK GREEN 0402 575 042

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Media Release - ScoMo Praises Multinational Laws... That He Voted Against

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 

 

SCOMO PRAISES MULTINATIONAL TAX LAWS….THAT HE VOTED AGAINST

With extraordinary chutzpah, the Turnbull Government tried to take credit for the Australian Tax Office’s victory over Chevron in the Federal Court by claiming their own piecemeal tax measures are “working”.

On the day of the Federal Court decision, Scott Morrison tweeted:

But here’s the rub – they voted against the very laws used by the tax office to take on Chevron.

In 2012, the Coalition voted against the then-Labor Government’s Tax Laws Amendment (Cross-Border Transfer Pricing) Bill (No. 1) 2012. At the time, they claimed that the law was retrospective, when in reality it simply clarified the operation of our tax laws, and ensured that multinationals couldn’t exploit loopholes.

It was Labor’s transfer pricing laws – opposed by the Coalition – that were integral to the court decision.

In welcoming the Chevron decision, the Coalition effectively admitted that they got it wrong when they voted against the laws that enabled the judgement.

If the Coalition had gotten their way five years ago, the budget would now be hundreds of millions of dollars worse off, and net debt would be rising even faster than it is already.

If the Turnbull Government is serious about multinational tax avoidance, they can prove it today by backing Labor’s fully costed measures to close debt-shifting loopholes.

If they refuse to take real action on debt-shifting, then just as in 2012, the Coalition is all sizzle and no steak.

FRIDAY, 28 APRIL 2017

MEDIA CONTACT: NICK GREEN   0402 575 042

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Media Release - Help Wanted for Slomo's Taskforce

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

 

HELP WANTED FOR SLOMO'S TAX TASKFORCE

Scott Morrison likes to talk up the Tax Avoidance Taskforce, announced with great fanfare in the 2016 Budget (despite primarily consisting of 900 staff in existing programs).

But in answering a Senate Estimates question on notice, the government has now revealed that it has yet to fill 43 of the funded positions.

When it comes to providing a tax cut to the big banks or firing 3000 tax office staff, the Turnbull Government is quicker out of the blocks than Usain Bolt.

But when it comes to closing loopholes or appointing staff to tackle tax avoidance, they are slower than a snail in molasses.

FRIDAY, 28 APRIL 2017

MEDIA CONTACT:             NICK GREEN           0402 575 042

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Op-Ed - How Can We Reduce Inequality? - Huffington Post

HOW CAN WE REDUCE INEQUALITY?

The Huffington Post, Thursday 27 April

On Sunday 9 April, two jets left Chicago. One was a private jet, with eight leather seats. The other was an overbooked United flight, which only departed after passenger David Dao was forcibly removed, suffering a broken nose and teeth in the process.

The contrast symbolises much of what has changed in society over recent decades. At the top end, some airlines offer in-flight showers to their first class passengers, and the private jet market has doubled. Meanwhile, economy passengers grumble about skinnier legroom and fatter surcharges for snacks and baggage.

Inequality isn’t just in the skies. Over the past generation, earnings have grown three times as fast for the top tenth of Australian workers as the bottom tenth. Since the early-1990s, average CEO pay in large firms has risen from $1 million to $3 million. The top 1 percent share has doubled, and the richest 200 have a rising share of our national wealth.

How might we create a more equal Australia? Let’s start at the beginning. No, actually, let’s start before the beginning. Babies born too light (below 2.5 kilograms) or too early (before 37 weeks) are more likely to have health complications, less likely to do well at school, and less likely to earn a decent income. In richer Australian households, only 3 percent of babies are of low birth weight. In poorer households, that figure is 7 percent.

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Op-Ed - The Mechanics of Competition - Daily Telegraph

THE MECHANICS OF COMPETITION

The Daily Telegraph, Thursday 27 April

The neighbourhood where my office is located is changing fast. A generation ago, it was filled with car dealers and mechanics. Now, because it’s close to the city, the hipsters have moved in. Give it another generation, and the only sign of the suburb’s heritage will be bars with names like ‘Grease Monkey’.

The disappearance of independent mechanics from areas like Leichhardt, Bankstown and Rozelle illustrates how Australian cities are losing an iconic part of their light-industrial identity. It also means that competition in the car service sector is shrinking, to the detriment of car owners, as large car manufacturers centralise and corporatise their service businesses.

One of the key areas making it difficult for independent service and repair businesses to compete is the limited access they are given by manufacturers to standard servicing information.

A generation and a half ago, the point of reference for servicing a car was a spanner. Now it is an iPad. Cars in 2017 are basically driveable computers. If independent mechanics can’t access the information and download error reports, it’s hard for them to offer competitive car servicing prices.

Independent car service and repair businesses claim that most manufactures are restricting access to the standard service information. This is despite the Voluntary Code of Practice-Access to Service and Repair Information for Motor Vehicles, which was released by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries two years ago. That voluntary code was meant to establish an information portal like those in Europe, the USA and Canada.

Alas, the key word in the above sentence is “voluntary”. Car makers can choose whether to use the portal, and among the big manufacturers, only Holden has volunteered to do the right thing. With 18 million registered vehicles in Australia, less choice among car repairers hurts most of us.

Whether you own a Toyota Corolla or a Ford Ranger, everyone should be able to choose whether to get their car serviced by the dealership or an independent mechanic. 

According to Stuart Charity, executive director of the Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association, “If you want to choose who repairs your car – the dealer or a local repairer – you should buy a Holden, because every other brand finds a way to force you to go back to the dealer and this costs on average 25 per cent more than an independent repairer.”

Like most things in life, the behaviour of car manufacturers can be explained by economics. With car buyers having more information at their fingertips than ever before, the amount that dealers make on sales can be as low as $100. But parts and servicing can bring in steady revenue for years – particularly if you’re charging a quarter more than the independent mechanic down the road.

Yet while Australians overpay for their car services and local mechanics shut up shop, the Turnbull Government has been reluctant to act. Worse, government ministers have continually broken their promises to independent mechanics. First, they promised to review the voluntary code by September 2016, but failed to do so.

Next, the Turnbull Government promised to review the voluntary code by October 2016. Again, that deadline came and went. Although I’ve written directly to Treasurer Scott Morrison about this issue, getting the government going on it seems harder than starting a car without the spark plugs. Their latest wheeze has been to claim that the government doesn’t have to do anything, because the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission is looking into it.

While the government dithers, millions of Australia motorists continue to pay too much for servicing, while more and more of the nation’s 21,000 independent car repairers go to the wall. Our nation’s drivers and mechanics are rightly angry at a government that seems to be asleep at the wheel when it comes to getting them a fair deal.

If the government wants to do the right thing, it’s time to consider making it compulsory for car manufacturers to let everyone access the information on our cars’ onboard computers. That would create a level playing field for all mechanics, and fair competition for consumers. Then we can go back to enjoying those Grease Monkey burgers without feeling guilty.

This piece originally appeared in The Daily Telegraph on Thursday 27 April 2017

MEDIA CONTACT: NICK GREEN 0402 575 042

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LABOR CALLS FOR DELAY TO GST ON LOW-VALUE IMPORTS - Media Release

CHRIS BOWEN MP

SHADOW TREASURER

MEMBER FOR MCMAHON

 

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

 

SENATOR CHRIS KETTER

CHAIR, SENATE ECONOMICS REFERENCES COMMITTEE

SENATOR FOR QUEENSLAND

 

LABOR CALLS FOR DELAY TO GST ON LOW-VALUE IMPORTS

Following revelations the proposed GST on low-value imports may be unenforceable and cause major disruptions for families and small businesses, Labor today calls on the Turnbull Government to delay its implementation for one year, until 1 July 2018.

Labor has supported the removal of GST on low-value imports with a feasible model, and remains supportive in principle. The bipartisan hand has always been extended to the Government to work constructively on this measure.

But today’s hearing found the Turnbull Government has botched its implementation, with Treasury admitting the lack of a Regulation Impact Statement was in breach of the Office of Best Practice Guidelines.

The Australian Taxation Office, lumbered with a vague plan by the Government, were left to explain that jurisdictions like the USA and China will not enforce the measure on their behalf. Platform compliance is largely reliant on the goodwill of overseas operators.

eBay claimed that Treasury officials had told them they expect a 25-30% compliance rate.

Affected retailers raised questions on how platforms (and the independent sellers who use them) would interpret Australia’s unique GST regime and its exemptions.

When asked by Senator Chris Ketter about economic modelling and consultations on alternative models, Treasury and Australian Tax Office officials were left in the awkward position of defending the Scott Morrison’s decision to legislate the ‘vendor-based’ model.

Treasury officials declined to answer questions about whether alternative start dates had been modelled. The measure is due to take effect in just over two months’ time. Yet witnesses – from the Australian Taxation Office to online retailers – all raised more questions than answers on how the measure will be implemented and enforced in overseas jurisdictions.

Both the Conference of Asia Pacific Express Carriers and the Freight and Trade Alliance called for a 12-month delay.

Today’s public hearings clearly show that Scott Morrison has failed to properly consult with stakeholders and develop a workable model for taxing low-value imports.

Scott Morrison likes to talk about reducing the impact of red tape, yet in this case he has failed to produce a Regulation Impact Statement, as the Office of Best Practice Regulation guidelines recommends.

As such, Labor is calling on the Government to:

  • Delay the start date to 1 July 2018
  • Engage with all stakeholders and review alternative models
  • Deliver a Regulation Impact Statement to assure small businesses and consumers that the measure will operate as intended.

Applying GST to imports valued at less than $1,000 has Labor’s in principle support. But Scott Morrison must show that his preferred model is workable and enforceable.

Too many stakeholders now have concerns about the Treasurer’s ability to implement this measure without it severely disrupting this important and fast-growing part of our economy.

FRIDAY, 21 APRIL 2017

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