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How the randomistas can help fight inequality - Speech, Wellington

HOW THE RANDOMISTAS CAN HELP FIGHT INEQUALITY

PRESBYTERIAN SUPPORT NORTHERN SEMINAR SERIES ON CHILD WELLBEING
WELLINGTON

 FRIDAY, 6 APRIL 2018

I acknowledge the Māori people, the traditional owners of the lands on which we meet, and thank our hosts, Presbyterian Support Northern, for inviting me to deliver these lectures.

New Zealand has turned out to be a pretty good predictor of what’s likely to happen next in Australia.

New Zealand women won the right to vote nine years earlier than Australian women.

Your country enacted same sex marriage four years before we did.

You even gave Barnaby Joyce citizenship before we did.

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Flight Centre ruling shows need for higher penalties - Media Release

ANDREW LEIGH MP, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER

TIM HAMMOND MP, SHADOW MINISTER FOR CONSUMER AFFAIRS

FLIGHT CENTRE RULING SHOWS NEED FOR HIGHER PENALTIES

Federal Labor has welcomed the decision by the Full Federal Court to order Flight Centre to pay $12.5 million in penalties for attempting to enter into price fixing arrangements with airlines between 2005-2009, but has called on the Turnbull Government to increase maximum penalties for anti-competitive conduct.

The court found that Flight Centre asked a number of airlines not to publish ticket prices on their website that were less than Flight Centre’s prices.

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There's a lot to be learned in the egalitarian project - Transcript, ABC Radio National Podcast

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

ABC RADIO NATIONAL PODCAST

CLASS ACT PART FOUR: DON’T MENTION IT

THURSDAY, 5 APRIL 2018

SUBJECTS: Inequality, Class.

RICHARD AEDY: Hello, I'm Richard Aedy. This is Class Act on Big Ideas. We're looking at social class in Australia. In part one, you heard what our class system looks like and how we all fit into it. Part two was about how we got to where we are. And part three looked at inequality and social mobility – both are worse than they used to be.

This time we'll hear about why we don't talk about class, but we listen when other people do. There's also some ideas on what we can do about inequality, and what might be the beginning of a return to facing up to class, something we've done in Australia for most of the past 230 years – just not for the last 30. Here's the thing. We have a class system. It shapes the life we lead. But just like the movie Fight Club, the first rule of our class system is that you do not talk about our class system. The second rule of our class system is that you do not talk about our class system. It's weird. Here's the novelist Tim Winton.

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The rising gap between rich and poor in Australia - Transcript, ABC Radio National Podcast

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

ABC RADIO NATIONAL PODCAST

CLASS ACT PART THREE: THE DARK HEART

WEDNESDAY, 4 APRIL 2018

SUBJECTS: Inequality, Class.       

RICHARD AEDY: Hello, I'm Richard Aedy. This is Class Act on Big Ideas, looking at social class in Australia. In parts one and two, you heard what class is, how it's determined, how we got here and the way it interacts with Indigenous Australians and with our politics. In part three we'll look at the dark heart of the class system: inequality and what it's doing to us.

It affects our health, where we live, how well we do at school and our prospects after we leave. You'll hear how class is playing into another big change, between one generation and the next. And we'll focus on something that's closely connected to inequality, and for some individuals is the antidote to it: social mobility. Because what we don't have in Australia is a level playing field.

VOICE: There's a perception among people who reside in that less well-educated, less wealthy group, that they're never going to be able to change the life of their children. And I think that's terrible because I think anybody can help their children to change their lives. And that doesn't mean changing the class they belong to; it means changing the perception that there is an underclass.

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What can New Zealand and Australia learn from each another about reducing inequality? - Speech, Auckland

EQUALISING THE ANTIPODES: WHAT CAN NEW ZEALAND AND AUSTRALIA LEARN FROM EACH ANOTHER ABOUT REDUCING INEQUALITY?

PRESBYTERIAN SUPPORT NORTHERN SEMINAR SERIES ON CHILD WELLBEING
AUCKLAND

THURSDAY, 5 APRIL 2018

I acknowledge the Māori people, the traditional owners of the lands on which we meet, and thank our hosts, Presbyterian Support Northern, for inviting me to deliver these lectures.

In Eleanor Catton’s Booker Prize winning novel, The Luminaries, Crosbie Wells is writing back to his brother in 1854, explaining why he plans never to return to England. Naturally, he starts with the weather in Dunedin ‘The sun is bright on the hills and on the water and I can bear the briskness very well’. But then he turns to social class. ‘You see in New Zealand every man has left his former life behind and every man is equal in his own way. Of course the flockmasters in Otago are barons here just as they were barons in the Scottish Highlands but for men like me there is a chance to rise… It is not uncommon for men to tip their hats to one another in the street regardless of their station. The frontier I think makes brothers of us all’.

Ironically, it was in England that I first became interested in New Zealand inequality. Working with the late Sir Tony Atkinson, we began to explore long-run taxation statistics to ask whether the historical trends in inequality in Australia and New Zealand matched the myths. Was it true, as one 19th century gold-digger had written home to England, that ‘Rank and title have no charms in the Antipodes’?

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Do lower company tax rates create jobs? - OpEd, inequality.org

Do Lower Company Tax Rates Create Jobs?

inequality.org, 4 April 2018

As Australia’s conservative government tried to legislate a cut in the company tax rate for large firms, the Business Council of Australia stepped up to help. Attempting to persuade minor party representatives in the Senate, the lobby group circulated a letter signed by ten CEOs. They pledged that if the corporate tax rate was cut, then they would ‘commit to invest more in Australia which will lead to employing more Australians and therefore stronger wage growth as the tax cut takes effect’.

Unfortunately for the Business Council of Australia, someone in their organisation then leaked the first draft. In the original version of the letter, CEOs would have pledged to create more jobs, to avoid the offshoring of jobs, to increase wages, and to pay their taxes. But they baulked, and the Business Council ended up putting a red line through these stronger promises.

To make matters worse, it was also revealed that the Business Council of Australia had conducted a confidential survey of its CEOs. Asked what they would do with the money from a corporate rate cut, only one in six corporate bosses said they would spend it on employment or wages. Upon seeing the results, the Council decided not to release them to the public. Again, they were leaked.

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No one pays more tax under Labor's change - Transcript, 2GB

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

RADIO INTERVIEW

2GB

TUESDAY, 27 MARCH 2018

SUBJECT: Dividend imputation reform, Malcolm Turnbull’s $65 billion handout to big business.

ROSS GREENWOOD: Dr Andrew Leigh is on the line right now. Many thanks for your time, Andrew.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: My pleasure, Ross. Always great to be speaking with you.

GREENWOOD: Alright now. I said before that you've got to protect your own people, the low income earners, the pensioners, these types of people. What caused the change in heart? Because at the time there appeared to be no changing of the policy from your leadership team?

LEIGH: Ross, I think good policy making is about listening as much as it is about talking. We've heard the message from people about the concerns and the impact on pensioners. What we've said is that every pensioner will be able to benefit from cash refunds as well as allowees - people receiving parenting payment, Newstart and sickness allowance. It is a mark of the extent to which this particular tax concession goes to the wealthiest that this change takes about a quarter of the people who were originally affected out but still maintains 95 per cent of the revenue.

GREENWOOD: Okay. Does it mean you have to be a little careful also to watch the equity or fairness of this? Let's say for example, a person has worked all their life to become a self-funded retiree, they are not receiving a pension so they're just outside the threshold, the cut off around about $800,000 for a couple in assets outside their family home. That couple if you look at policy right now would probably give them an income on or around or even less than the aged pension for a couple, do you have to be a little careful to balance up the fairness of this system?

LEIGH: The advice that I've got on this is if you look at who is benefiting from the current system of cash refunds, 95 per cent of the imputation credits going to people over 65 are going to the wealthiest fifth of the population. This is a tax concession which is unique to Australia, no other country has it. And it's very heavily skewed to the most affluent.

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Unaffordable tax giveaway is not the secret to growth - Transcript, Doorstop

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

DOOSTOP INTERVIEW

PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA

WEDNESDAY, 28 MARCH 2018

SUBJECTS: Malcolm Turnbull’s $65 billion handout for big business, expulsion of Russian diplomats.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Thanks very much for being here this morning. My name is Andrew Leigh, Shadow Assistant Treasurer. We've seen today news that the Government has appears to have fallen short in the Senate in its attempt to give Australia's biggest businesses a massive corporate tax cut. This would be a corporate tax cut which the Government has tried to justify at every turn.

There is one simple number to illustrate why they have failed and that's four out of five. 

Four out of five Australians oppose giving money to big businesses and taking money away from schools. A Business Council of Australia secret survey revealed this week that four out of five CEOs say that if they got a big business tax cut they wouldn't spend it on wages. That accords with the evidence which we have from Australia and the United States. You look at companies that pay less company tax – that have a lower effective rate of company tax – they tend to have lower rates of job growth, not a higher rate of job growth as the Government would lead you to believe. That's true in Australia by my own research, it's true in the United States by research conducted last year. So this argument that this big business tax cut is just what the economy needs to kickstart growth is at odds with the evidence.

Indeed, it's at odds with the evidence that the Government brought down in the 2016 budget when they announced this unaffordable corporate tax giveaway. Their own estimates there suggested that a big business tax funded by increasing income taxes on middle Australia (a point the Government very rarely likes to admit), would only add 0.1 per cent to household income growth - a benefit that would flow in the 2030s. 

The Government tells us it is incredibly urgent to cut the big business tax rate but you can see the lie of that in their own schedule which would have the big business tax cut coming in mid-2026. If it's so urgent it's pretty hard to see why they'd have a 25 per cent rate cutting in in mid-2026.

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Labor is the party for pensioners - Transcript, 6PR Mornings

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

RADIO INTERVIEW

6PR MORNINGS

TUESDAY, 27 MARCH 2018

SUBJECT: Dividend imputation reform.

GARETH PARKER: My first guest on the program, he’s the Shadow Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh. Andrew, good morning.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Good morning, Gareth. How are you?

PARKER: I’m well, thanks. What has changed?

LEIGH: We’ve said from today that every pensioner will be able to benefit from cash refunds. Gareth, we’ve done this because we’ve always said we’d look after pensioners and because we want to make sure that Malcolm Turnbull has no longer any reason to be opposing this change. The notion of cash refunds just isn’t sustainable at a time when we’re looking to fund schools, to fund hospitals, to put important money into infrastructure in Western Australia. So this protects pensioners and allowance recipients from the change and sees that the cash refund change will only apply to those who aren’t on the pension and aren’t receiving allowances.

PARKER: So, if you’re pensioner or a part pensioner, nothing will change?

LEIGH: That’s correct.

PARKER: The big question then is what about who are self-funded superannuants, self-funded retirees?

LEIGH: Gareth, this doesn’t change the integrity of our policy, which is to say that Australia is the only country in the world that has a system of cash refunds for dividend imputation. The only country in the world that says that the Tax Office ought to be writing cheques out to people rather than assessing how much tax you ought to pay. That’s not an arrangement that would apply to most of your listeners. Most of your listeners would be thinking to themselves ‘how much do I owe the Tax Office at the end of the year?’. At a time when we have gross debt crashing through the half a trillion dollar mark, I don’t think it’s  fair and I don’t think it’s good for growth to keep this tax loophole open.

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Sukkar’s sound and fury signifies nothing - Media Release

SUKKAR’S SOUND AND FURY SIGNIFIES NOTHING

Another day, another mistruth from a Turnbull Government Minister on Labor’s proposed changes to dividend imputation.

Michael Sukkar has told Sky News:

It will be very tough for Labor, come the next election, to say to now-self-funded retirees “we’re going to tax you more”.

Yes, Michael - it will be very tough because it is patently untrue.

From the moment Labor announced our policy to close loopholes allowing large cash refunds to people who do not pay tax, we’ve said no one will pay one cent more in tax.

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