A decent wage not just fair, it's also good for business - OpEd, Daily Telegraph

Paying decent wages not just a fair go, it’s good for business too

The Daily Telegraph, 26 January 2018

In 1914, Henry Ford shocked America when he announced that he would double the pay of his workers, to $5 a day. He didn’t do this out of a sense of social justice or concern for his workers – remember that Ford Motors was known for its aggressive anti-union tactics. He did it because he understood the economic case for decent wages.

At a time when other car makers were trying to cut costs, Ford increased his wage bill by $10 million – more than half the firm’s annual profits. One competitor predicted that the workers wouldn’t know what to do with the extra cash – that they would be ‘demoralised by this sudden affluence’.

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Labor Backs Small Business, Turnbull Backs Millionaires - Media Release


A stone’s throw from the train tracks in the Adelaide suburb of Ascot Park is Mr Leeing’s Café, a small business opened by John as a tribute to his father.

While Malcolm Turnbull obsesses over giving a giant tax break to multinationals and millionaires, Labor is on the side of small businesses like John’s.

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Government's own numbers suggest growth dividend isn't tangible - Transcript, 2GB





SUBJECTS: Malcolm Turnbull’s giveaway to the big end of town, Scott Morrison’s plans to tax middle Australia, US tax cuts, company tax cuts.

ROSS GREENWOOD: Let’s go now to Dr Andrew Leigh, Shadow Assistant Treasurer. Thanks for your time, Andrew.


GREENWOOD: It’s a great debating point and, as I say, the difference of opinion is one that Australians have got to make their mind up to as they head towards the next election. In regards to those jobs created last year – 400,000 jobs created in Australia, most of those full time jobs, overwhelmingly full time jobs – that surely, no matter which political party you’re in, has got to be good news for Australian families.

LEIGH: Ross, I’d always welcome improvement in the employment numbers. But the key question here is should we give tax cuts to some of the biggest companies in Australia? What would that do for growth? So let’s unpack the Treasurer’s “big pie” policy. His own analysis, brought down on the eve of the budget where they announced this corporate tax cut, said that if you funded it by raising income tax on middle Australia – which is what he plans to do – it would grow the economy by 0.1 per cent. So imagine that I told you I have a great plan for growing a pie. I’m going to grow the pie by one one-thousandth. You’d say ‘I’m not sure I can actually see that, Andrew. When I stare at the edge of the crusts, they don’t seem to have gotten very much bigger.’ But that’s what Scott Morrison’s own analysis says is the impact of his $65 billion give away to the top end of town. Labor instead believes that we ought to be giving a better deal to middle Australia. We won’t support Scott Morrison’s attempt to raise taxes on everyone earning from $21,000 to $87,000. We don’t think that at a time when wage growth has been stagnant and corporate Australia is setting profit records that the right thing to be doing is raising taxes on middle income households and lowering the impact on big corporations.

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Fears Turnbull Wants Charities Seen But Not Heard - Media Release


Charities and not-for-profits fear a future where excessive red tape and unnecessary legislation will effectively put a price on free speech.

Federal Shadow Minister for Charities and Not-for-Profits Andrew Leigh and South Australian Minister for Communities and Social Inclusion Zoe Bettison today met with local charities and advocates to discuss concerns over the Turnbull Government’s latest actions to weaken the charitable sector.

Organisations including Uniting SA, The Sunrise Project and Welcome to Australia spoke on what they saw as threats to their work.

These are the people that the Australian public trusts to speak on their behalf on policy issues and Labor believes the contributions of experts who have experience working with the community should be welcomed.

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The False Economy of Public Service Sackings - OpEd, The Canberra TImes

The False Economy of Public Service Sackings

The Canberra Times, 14 January 2018

Would you burn a dollar of petrol driving to the other side of the city so you could save fifty cents filling up? Would you recommend to a friend that they buy the cheapest printer, knowing it has the most expensive ink cartridges? Do you advise family to save money by not getting the flu vaccine?

Of course not. Fortunately, we’re familiar with the idea of a false economy – a saving that turns out to be illusory because it eventually costs you more. 

Unfortunately, not everyone seems to have cottoned on to what this means for the federal public service. While public service jobs have been decimated, spending on consultants has ballooned. Work that used to be at the core of the public service, like policy development and stakeholder engagement, is increasingly being outsourced.

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Coalition following Trump over fiscal cliff - Transcript, Doorstop





SUBJECTS: US  tax cuts, Malcolm Turnbull’s cuts to universities, Scott Morrison’s delayed action on petrol prices.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Thanks very much for coming along today. My name’s Andrew Leigh, the Shadow Assistant Treasurer. Under the Abbott and Turnbull Governments, Australia has seen high inequality. We’ve seen home ownership fall to its lowest level in 60 years. We’ve seen wages stagnate. And yet the Liberals’ answer to Australia’s economic challenges has been a budget-busting corporate tax cut for big multinationals, paid for by raising taxes on middle Australia.

When they were first asked to show some evidence in favour of this, they produced research which showed that if you looked at the impact of a corporate tax cut for the big end of town, it increased household income by just 0.1 per cent in the 2030s if it was paid for by raising taxes on middle Australia. 0.1 per cent in the 2030s is hardly a pot of gold waiting the Australian middle class. It’s hardly a reason to be blowing out debt still further. It’s hardly a reason to be raising taxes on seven million low and middle income Australians, as Malcolm Turnbull plans to do.

Now the Liberals would have you believe that Australia’s company tax rate somehow ranks us the highest in the world. But the lie was given to that by analysis done by the United States Congressional Budget Office earlier this year. That analysis looked at the statutory corporate tax rate across the G20. It found that Australia had the 10th highest corporate tax rate in the world’s 20 largest economics – precisely at the middle of the pack. After the passing of Donald Trump’s tax cut, we’d move to ninth – still the middle of the pack. This analysis doesn’t take into account the deductions that are available and the effective rates that are available to companies. When the US Congressional Budget Office compared countries’ corporate tax rates on the average rate or the effective tax rate, which is the tax rate taken into account by businesses making investment decisions, they found that we ranked below average in the G20. And that will continue to be the case regardless of what the United States does.

Effectively, the argument that’s being made by the Liberals is that Donald Trump is doing it and we should follow Donald Trump wherever he leads. It’s absolutely clear from independent economic analysis what the Trump tax cut entails. We know from research done by the University of Chicago that the majority of eminent US economists believe that the Trump tax cut will add significantly to the deficit. It will be paid for in the medium term by the middle class and we know that, according to eminent US economists, that it won’t tangibly add to growth. So there are certainly similarities with the plan being spruiked here in Australia, with the snake oil plan being spruiked by Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison, a plan too which in Australia would increase the deficit, would be paid for by the middle class and would not tangibly add to growth.

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Feminism is Another Word for Equality - Blog, BroadAgenda

Feminism is Another Word for Equality

BroadAgenda, 18 December 2017

With sexual harassment scandals roiling Hollywood and Washington, we need more feminists, not fewer. With the gender pay gap about where it was two decades ago, it’s time for men to do our part for greater equity. With Australia’s corporate boards still three-quarters male and our federal parliament still two-thirds male, men need to join women in talking about how fair representation brings better results.

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Halting the havens - OpEd, The Canberra Times

Halting the havens

The Canberra Times, 14 December 2017

We often say that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. But for some multinational firms, their tax affairs often do.

In May 2013, Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook was being grilled by US Senators about the nature and structure of his company’s tax affairs.

Those Senators were scrutinising a complex corporate structure, and how Apple had come to amass over $100 billion of largely untaxed profits offshore. Mr Cook’s retort to the subcommittee was ‘We don’t depend on tax gimmicks… We don’t stash money on some Caribbean island’.

As the New York Times reported after the release of the Paradise Papers: ‘True enough. The island Apple would soon rely on was in the English Channel’.

Jersey, to be precise.

Like millions of Australians, my life is better as a result of using Apple products. But I want the company to succeed based on product innovation, not tax innovation.

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Time for Turnbull to get tough on tax havens and multinational tax avoidance - Media Release


One in three large firms still pay no tax in Australia.

Data issued by the Australian Taxation Office at 5pm today showed that 732 out of the 2043 companies examined failed to pay any tax the 2015-16 tax year. The companies that paid no tax include 108 firms reporting more than $1 billion in total income.

These figures highlight the failure of the Turnbull Government to make our tax system fairer. The only reason we know that 36 per cent of companies failed to pay any tax is because of Labor’s tax transparency laws, which passed the Parliament in 2013 amid objections from the Coalition.

Despite this, Malcolm Turnbull and his team still believe that cutting company tax rates – and punishing working and middle class families in the process - should be Australia’s top economic priority.

It does not get more out of touch than this. 

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Gary Johns is unfit to lead the charity regulator - Media Release


Appointing Gary Johns to head the Australian Charities and Not For Profits Commission is like putting Ned Kelly in charge of the nation’s bank security.

Johns has been a trenchant critic of charities throughout his career. His appointment signals a major escalation in the Turnbull Government’s war on charities, and shows that Tony Abbott and Kevin Andrews still run the Liberal Party

Announcing the appointment, Minister Sukkar admitted that he hadn’t read Gary Johns’ work. For the Minister’s benefit, here’s a few things he may have missed.

‘There is a great deal of impure altruism in the charity business’

-       Gary Johns, The Charity Ball, 2014

‘The idea of public benefit needs to be trimmed and tested’

-       Gary Johns, The Charity Ball, 2014

“The Abbott Government… should deny charity status to the enemies of progress”

-       The Australian, 2 December 2014

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