Mistakenly Seeking Solitude
The Chronicle, 1 May 2018
On the count of three, Albert Hall suddenly echoed with a hundred new citizens saying together ‘Namaste’, ‘Ni Hau’, ‘Hola’, and ‘G’day’. Then we immediately laughed at the way we’d mispronounced each other’s greetings – particularly the Irish woman who’d just taught me to say ‘céad míle fáilte’ (‘a hundred thousand welcomes’).
Speaking at citizenship ceremonies is one of my favourite parts of being a federal member of parliament. To illustrate the point that each new citizen brings something valuable to Australia, I often ask them to take a single minute to teach a stranger how to say hello in their language or accent.Read more
CHRIS BOWEN, SHADOW TREASURER
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER
Big company tax cuts reward the banks and offshore shareholders
The Sydney Morning Herald, 1 May 2018
Sometimes, what people say in private can be different from what they say in public. A report last month reported on a confidential survey of businesses, which asked them whether a corporate tax cut for the big end of town would improve their business prospects.
If you’d been listening to the Turnbull Government spin, you’d think that every company would favour a tax cut. But only half of the companies in the poll said that a tax cut would better secure their businesses prospects.
What would they do with a tax cut if they got one? Again, the Liberal spin would have you thinking more jobs and fatter pay packets. But managers said that a tax cut would be more likely to go to buying machines and paying down corporate debt. Only 7 percent of firms said that they would grow employment. Just 4 percent said they would increase wages.Read more
ABC NATIONAL WRAP
SUNDAY, 29 APRIL 2018
SUBJECTS: Tampon tax, Banking Royal Commission, Malcolm Turnbull’s $13 billion handout to big banks, the Turnbull Government’s Medicare backflip, immigration, Michael Sukkar’s ‘termite’ comments.
PATRICIA KARVELAS: Labor’s Shadow Assistant Treasurer Dr Andrew Leigh and Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar join me now, Welcome to National Wrap.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Great to be with you, PK
MICHAEL SUKKAR: Thanks, Patricia.
KARVELAS: Under Labor’s proposal, Michael, that was announced today tampons and women’s sanitary products will no longer be taxed. Why doesn’t the government move in this direction as well, given these products are a necessity?
SUKKAR: Well, Patricia, under the intergovernmental agreement, it requires any change to the base or rate of the GST requires the consent of all of the states and territories including the Commonwealth and as recently as 2015 we took this to the Council of Financial Relations – essentially the Treasurers COAG – we put it forward in 2015, the states and territories couldn’t agree to it and since then none of the territories or states have raised it. The announcement from Labor today was meaningless without a signed piece of paper from every state and territory saying they supported this. Because without their support, it doesn’t change.
KARVELAS: So, Andrew, is that right? Do you have their support?
LEIGH: Patricia, there’s a simple reason Joe Hockey couldn’t get this done in 2015 and that’s because he couldn’t find an offset source of revenue. What we’ve done today – and it’s a real credit to Catherine King, Chris Bowen, Tanya Plibersek and Bill Shorten – is to identify natural therapies not supported by clinical evidence and under a bipartisan policy not supported by the private health insurance rebate and say we would put the GST onto those natural therapies and as a result provide the additional revenue. Indeed, over the decade we’re providing the states with more revenue from the natural therapies decision than from the tampon tax. But it’s the kind of positive policy you can expect to be coming out of a party that is now 48 per cent women.Read more
JIM CHALMERS, SHADOW MINISTER FOR FINANCE
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER
WORKERS MUCH WORSE OFF UNDER TOP END TURNBULL’S TAX HIKES
Tax on workers has grown 25 times more than tax on companies under the Liberals.
A new analysis of the Budget papers reveals that workers were hit with $38 billion in extra taxes in 2017 compared to 2013, while companies’ taxes have only gone up $1.5 billion over the same period.
Taxes on workers have grown eight times faster – at 5.5 per cent – than company taxes, which have only grown 0.7 per cent during that time.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
TANYA PLIBERSEK, SHADOW MINISTER FOR WOMEN
CHRIS BOWEN, SHADOW TREASURER
CATHERINE KING, SHADOW MINISTER FOR HEALTH AND MEDICARE
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER
LABOR WILL AXE THE “TAMPON TAX”
A Shorten Labor Government will end Australia’s unfair and discriminatory “tampon tax”, partnering with the states and territories to remove the GST on women’s sanitary products.
This is a tax on women.
Australian women spend around $300 million on sanitary products – tampons and pads – each year.
Currently, every single one of these products is hit with the 10 per cent GST – around $30 million a year in tax – because they are not considered necessities.
SKY NEWS AM AGENDA
TUESDAY, 24 APRIL 2018
SUBJECTS: Debt reduction, Malcolm Turnbull’s zombie budget measures, health funding, Banking Royal Commission.
KIERAN GILBERT: I spoke to the Shadow Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh earlier this morning about this Newspoll that shows that debt reduction is a bigger priority for many of those surveyed. I asked is debt reduction still a major priority for Labor heading into this budget season.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Absolutely it’s a priority for us. As Wayne Swan said when he was treasurer, you can’t be Keynesians in the downturn and not be Keynesians in the upswing. It’s really important that we pay down that debts, but it becomes so much harder when you’ve got a government which is determined to maintain zombie cuts in the books, some $2 billion of cuts that in some cases they haven’t even put to parliament, in other cases they know they’re not going to pass parliament. Things like raising the pension age to 70. The government needs to be fair dinkum with the Australian people, take those zombie cuts out of the budget and show the true state of the books, and then they need to rethink their daft position on some of these tax breaks. We can’t continue to be the only country in the world that provides cash refunds on dividend imputation. We can’t continue to have this uniquely generous system of tax breaks for negative gearing and the capital gains tax discount that are blowing up the housing market and making housing unaffordable for young Australians. We can’t keep on maintaining the systems around trusts which create what Bill Shorten calls a two class tax system in which one group of people are able to avoid paying tax, and another group of people have to pay their PAYG out of every pay packet.Read more
TIM HAMMOND, SHADOW MINISTER FOR CONSUMER AFFAIRS
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER & SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMPETITION AND PRODUCTIVITY
$700,000 PENALTY FOR ‘FLUSHABLE WIPES’ CLAIM A DROP IN THE BUCKET
Labor has welcomed the Federal Court order that Pental Limited and Pental Products Pty Ltd (Pental) pay $700,000 for claiming that their toilet cleaning wipes were flushable, but we note the penalty pales in comparison to the cost of evacuating the blocked up sewers they cause.
Last year, we drew attention to the 500 tonnes of so-called flushable wipes that Sydney Water says are removed each year. Around the country, the cost to swipe wipes from pipes has been estimated at over $15 million. One veteran plumber reported removing a 12-metre block of wipes from a single home.
Labor has long criticised the penalties for anti-consumer conduct – only $1.1 million per offence. For large multinational companies, wee penalties like that could just be chalked up to ‘the cost of doing business’.
We are pleased the Government has taken our advice to increase penalties.Read more
ABC PERTH BREAKFAST
THURSDAY, 12 APRIL 2018
SUBJECT: National Disability Insurance Scheme; Income Taxes
PETER BELL: Dr Andrew Leigh is the Shadow Assistant Treasurer with the Labor Party. Good morning, Dr Leigh.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Good morning, Peter. How are you?
BELL: Well, thank you. Why don’t you support an increase to the Medicare levy across all income brackets?
LEIGH: Peter, we think there’s a fairer way of ensuring that the national Disability Insurance Scheme is properly funded and that’s to constrain the increase in the Medicare levy to those earning more than $87,000 and then to put back that budget repair levy on the top income earners, people earning over $180,000. You take that approach and 7 million Australians, including most of your listeners, don’t get an income tax increase. We’re able to fund the scheme – we actually raise more revenue over the course of the decade – and it’s a good deal fairer.
PAULA KRUGER: So are you confident that with your budget repair levy and hitting people over $87,000 - is that enough to address the funding gap?
LEIGH: Absolutely. Both our approach and the Government’s approach raise $8 billion over four years. Our approach raises significantly more over the course of the decade. I also think we need to be careful, Paula, about his notion that there’s been a massive cost blow out. The Productivity Commission last October brought out a report on NDIS costs that confirmed the initial funding projections are correct and the scheme is being delivered on budget.Read more
ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER OWN GOAL FROM THE TURNBULL GOVERNMENT
Reports today identify a “strange anomaly” in tax law stemming from the Turnbull Government’s $65 billion big business handout that may cause “fairly serious errors” because of how the changes interact with GST law.
The Tax Institute’s Bob Deutsch has identified a potential oversight stemming from the Treasury Laws Amendment (Enterprise Tax Plan) Act 2017, which has already passed parliament.
If true, this would not be the first time the government had botched its company tax changes. Last year, the Turnbull Government was forced to go back to parliament with amendments to ensure that passive investment companies would not get the benefit of the tax cut for small and medium sized firms. That exercise ended in farce when the government had to amend its own amendments.Read more
INVESTIGATION INTO THE AUSTRALIAN TAX OFFICE
This morning, Bill Shorten called for an investigation into the Australian Tax Office, following matters raised by a joint Fairfax Media-Four Corners investigation.
This afternoon, the Turnbull Government has heeded our call, announcing that the Turnbull Government will launch an investigation into the Australian Tax Office.
Genuine concerns have been raised and Labor will ensure that a thorough investigation is conducted.
While an investigation into the tax office must be conducted, Labor also recognises that tax office staff have been left struggling as a result of staffing cuts by the Coalition.Read more