Tax summit must break the impasse - Sky Lunchtime Agenda





SUBJECT/S: Shelved plans for fee deregulation; China-Australia Free Trade Agreement; Reform summit; Superannuation

LAURA JAYES: Dr Andrew Leigh, welcome to the program. Before we get to the Government's reform summit today, can I just ask you about this breaking news this morning where the new Minister for Education, Simon Birmingham, has decided to shelve reform plans on university deregulation. He's not dumping them altogether but at least putting this off to 2017. You'd welcome that kind of stability going forward for universities, wouldn't you?

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Laura, I welcome these reforms going on the shelf, but I'd welcome them more going in the bin. What we've got now is the situation where the Government is still committed to the reforms but it just doesn't think it can get them through the Senate. That's a mistake because at a time when technology is racing ahead, we've got to have more and more opportunities for all kids to go to university, whatever backgrounds they come from. A policy that cuts the student contribution from government by one-fifth is the wrong policy to encourage more kids to attend, and to stay at, university.

JAYES: Can I ask you though, there have been some sections of the crossbench – David Leyonhjelm for one – who wanted to go even further than the Government planned to go on this. There are varying degrees of support for these reforms; I know Labor doesn't support them, you've made that abundantly clear. But are you saying from here on in there will be no negotiation on any kind of fee deregulation and university reform is not necessary? Will you go back to the negotiating table with the Government?

LEIGH: Laura, we made an important announcement on higher education a couple of weeks ago. Kim Carr, Amanda Rishworth and Bill Shorten laid out how Labor will focus not just on improving the per-student contribution, but also on reducing the drop-out rate. One in four kids don't finish university and that number is even higher for disadvantaged groups such as kids from low income backgrounds or Indigenous students. Labor's plan is to try and improve the opportunities for university attendance because we know that this is fundamental to dealing with a technology-rich environment. If technology advances and education stagnates, then inequality will get even worse than it is now.

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Barney over effects test must not derail better competition reforms - Media Release


Joint media release with Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen 

Competition reform has ground to a halt in this country because the Liberal National Coalition is deeply divided over a single recommendation in the Harper Review’s 548 page report.

The debate about inserting a so-called ‘effects test’ into Australia’s competition law has so far completely derailed any discussion of the report’s 55 other substantial recommendations.

Ranging across infrastructure access to intellectual property reform, and from planning and zoning to retail restrictions, the report maps out a comprehensive blueprint for competition reforms that can help spur a new round of economic growth.

When the Keating and Howard Governments adopted the recommendations of the Hilmer Competition Review in the 1990s, this added an estimated 2.5 per cent to GDP over the decade.

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ACT leading the way on innovative policy, again - ABC 702 Sydney





SUBJECT/S: ACT Government legalises ridesharing.

RICHARD GLOVER: Andrew Leigh joins us from Canberra now with his thoughts on UberX and so-called digital disruption. Good afternoon, Andrew.


GLOVER: They've tried to nut out some sort of compromise in the ACT today, have they got it right?

LEIGH: I think they have, Richard. One of the things that is part of the ACT's move to allow ridesharing is making sure there's the same criminal history and background checks for taxis, hire care and ridesharing vehicles. So they're making sure there's a level playing field for the checks on drivers and the checks on cars. They're also curtailing some of the use of surge pricing, which has been pretty controversial when it's been used by Uber. The ACT Government is saying it can't be used in emergencies. And then they're also bringing down the taxi licence fees.

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The PM has changed, now to change the policies - RN Drive





SUBJECT/S: No change in Liberal policies; Australian economy; Share market jitters.

JONATHAN GREEN: Joining me now is the new Assistant Minister for Productivity, Dr Peter Hendy. He played a crucial role in the Turnbull leadership ascension. Joining me also is Dr Andrew Leigh, the Shadow Assistant Treasurer and author of a new book 'The Luck of Politics'. Welcome to you both.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Thanks Jonathan, and congratulations Peter.


GREEN: We'll come to the markets in a moment but let's get to the former Prime Minister first. Tony Abbott gave his first in-depth radio interview today to, of course, Ray Hadley on 2GB, the broadcaster of choice. He urged Liberal voters to keep supporting the party, even if through – to quote him – 'gritted teeth'. Peter Hendy, is Tony Abbott going quietly?

HENDY: I think he's got a right to make statements; you were just talking about free speech before. The events of the past few weeks were quite traumatic for Tony, obviously, and he will feel very bruised about it. I was, in some way, on the receiving end of a similar thing back in 2008 because I was Chief of Staff to the Leader of the Liberal Party at that time which was Brendan Nelson. He was beaten by a particular guy named Malcolm Turnbull and –

GREEN: He was not best pleased!

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Labor leads on the sharing economy - Media Release


The ACT Government’s announcement that it will legalise ridesharing again shows Labor is taking the lead on innovative policies for the sharing economy.  

The announcement of new ridesharing rules and associated taxi reforms will pave the way for ridesharing companies to operate legally for the first time anywhere in Australia.  

This milestone comes as Federal Labor moves towards finalising our response to the sharing economy Discussion Paper launched in March. This looks at how we can get the national policy settings right to support the growth of this new sector while protecting Australian workers and consumers.

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(Un)happy anniversary for hot mess of a tender process - Media Release


Tomorrow marks one year since the Liberal Government announced it was considering ripping the Department of Immigration out of Belconnen.

After 365 days, multiple community forums and thousands of signatures petitioning the Government to keep the department where it is, we are no closer to getting answers about Immigration’s future.

Worse, the entire process has now been jeopardised by the Liberals’ apparent decision to exploit the tender for their own financial gain.

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Why the sharing economy offers a brighter future for Australian cities - Business Insider

Why the sharing economy offers a brighter future for Australian cities, Business Insider, 24 September

You might not be familiar with the names Michael Nuciforo and Robert Crocitti, but they’re the kind of blokes you want to have around when you’re trying to solve a tricky problem. They’re the creators of ParkHound, an app that lets you find and hire private parking spaces in busy metropolitan areas. They decided to start the company after circling around East Melbourne on the hunt for parking near the MCG before an AFL game.

As they tell it: “We drove past parked car after parked car, after….empty space that required a parking permit. There were dozens of empty garages and driveways right near the ground. It then hit us. Wouldn't it be great if we could just knock on someone’s door and ask to park at their place for a small fee? The more we thought about it, the more it made sense. We don’t need more parking spaces, we just need to utilise the parking spaces we already have.”

ParkHound is just one of dozens of new app-based services that have sprung up recently in the so-called sharing economy. While the kinds of services offered differ, fundamentally they all link people who have surplus goods to those who can make use of them.

In thinking about the rise of services like ParkHound, AirBNB and even the controversial Uber, it strikes me that the sharing economy has great potential to help us address some of the big challenges our cities face. As Australia’s cities continue to grow, issues like congestion and the use of space are becoming increasingly urgent. The mounting pressure on our built environment puts the people who live in it under pressure too. 

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Even big business wants more tax transparency, why doesn't Turnbull? - Media Release


BHP Billiton’s decision to voluntarily publish an in-depth report on its tax affairs shows the Abbott-Turnbull Government is going the wrong way in its efforts to gut Australia’s tax transparency laws. 

BHP has recognised that the community expects and demands greater tax transparency these days, and is taking positive steps to provide this.

Other major companies like Rio Tinto have also begun publishing information on the taxes they pay on a country-by-country and project-by-project basis in recent years. The Senate’s corporate tax inquiry has recommended more transparency to hold companies accountable for their tax dealings.

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Is the Government running up the white flag on the tax white paper? - Doorstop, Sydney





SUBJECT/S: Government confusion over tax white paper; Revenue and spending; Women in politics.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Thanks for coming along today. It's been reported that the tax white paper process is in jeopardy. This is a tax white paper which was announced before the 2013 federal election, and one that Tony Abbott promised would produce concrete policy proposals by 2016. There have been 18 people in the Treasury working on it, and five more in the Minister's office. There have been millions of dollars spent by business, community sector groups and the Treasury itself in preparing the tax white paper, and the Government has so far spent $650,000 publicising it. The suggestion that this tax white paper could be completely junked in a 'captain's call' from Malcolm Turnbull will be extraordinarily disappointing for the many Australians who participated in good faith in this tax white paper process.

I also want to make a couple of remarks about reports on the China Free Trade Agreement today. For all Malcolm Turnbull's statements about bipartisanship, he seems to have fallen disappointingly short when it comes to the China Free Trade Agreement. Labor's concerns about the China FTA are not around the trade portions of this agreement. This is, after all, an agreement that Labor helped to negotiate. All we're calling for is for proper labour market testing for projects over $150 million, making sure that we have proper safety and skills safeguards, and that we see foreign investment increasing Australian jobs and boosting wages – not reducing jobs and driving down wages. Happy to take any questions.

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Labor is up for a conversation about ideas - ABC NewsRadio





SUBJECT/S: Tax reform; Labor’s positive plans for innovation and education.

STEVE CHASE: We're hearing a lot from the new Cabinet under Malcolm Turnbull about re-setting policies. That puts pressure on the ALP, especially on the issue of raising the rate of the GST, which the Labor Premier of South Australia, Jay Weatherill, wants.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Steve, Labor strongly welcomes a conversation about ideas - that's exactly where our policy should be. We shouldn't be trading slogans and insults. That's not edifying for the Australian people and it's not good for the job we do. On the conversation about the GST, Labor's considered view is that raising the GST wouldn't improve either efficiency or equity, which are two of the key touchstones when you're looking at tax reform. The Treasury's own tax white paper puts the cost to the economy of the GST at about the same level as income tax. So it's not this fabulously efficient tax as some would have you believe, but it is a tax that falls disproportionately on those at the bottom of the distribution. I think one of the attractions of raising the GST has been that people have thought they could spend the money on a whole lot of almost mutually exclusive things. Social services groups have sometimes argued that you can give it all back as transfers and tax cuts to the bottom; Mike Baird has been arguing for spending it on health; Joe Hockey used to argue for spending it on cutting federal taxes and others to use it for cutting state taxes. But you can't do all those things with a GST rise.

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